By Deb Boylan, Lehigh Valley Rollergirls Correspondent
I hope you enjoyed the last home bout at Independence Family Fun Center where the Hissy Fits took on the Central New York All-Stars. What? You weren’t there? Well I thought everyone was there because the bout sold out shortly after the doors opened just prior to 5pm on March 19th. We were lucky to have our tickets firmly in hand so we breezed in and secured a super viewing spot near the first turn while most of the crowd was stranded on line going through the ticket purchasing process. I highly suggest pre-ordering tickets for future bouts to avoid lines and delays in entering. Our photographer Ruth and I had our positions secured, equipment set up and I was at the merchandise table before most people had even entered the venue. Kudos to the girls working the ticket sales table in handling a huge crowd and getting their transactions handled swiftly and smoothly.
Both teams took several laps around the track to warm up, and they practiced some of their defensive moves prior to the start of the event. I noticed contingents of visiting Rollergirls in the crowd as well as pockets of friends and family who came out to cheer on their favorite derby girls. It is really wonderful to witness how supportive members of the sport are toward one another. Providing pre-bout and halftime entertainment was local metal favorites Sinister Realm (http://www.reverbnation.com/sinisterrealm ).
Prior to the bout the basic player positions and rules of the game were explained to the fans. Of interest are some of the indiscretions that can get a rollergirl tossed into the penalty box. Pushing, elbowing, holding, tripping, fighting and ignoring the referee are all considered illegal and will have a rollergirl seated lickety split. Penalties only last one minute but when several members of your favorite team are in penalty status it seems like an eternity as you watch the points against your team rise quickly on the scoreboard. Throughout the bout members of both teams could be seen biding their time in the penalty box. Players have to be careful about getting penalties because once a player has landed in the penalty box seven times during the course of a bout they are ejected from the game.
Roller derby is an extremely high scoring sport, this certainly isn’t a soccer match! Final scores can rise upward of 200 points per team and occasionally even above 200! The action is blazingly fast and teams will frequently trade the lead. This bout was no exception and our Lehigh Valley Hissy Fits took an early lead over the Central New York All-Stars in the first half which they were able to maintain over 15 minutes into the 30 minute period. Unfortunately with 2 members of the Hissy Fits in a penalty situation the All Stars managed to mount a strong comeback. Lehigh Valley was stuck at 31 points for several minutes while Central New York rapidly added to their lead. Members of CNY took their turn in penalty mode and Lehigh Valley was able to regain some momentum but the clock closed in and the score was 61-86 in favor of the All Stars at the completion of the first half.
The sellout crowd of 600 dispersed somewhat with many heading to the exit for fresh air, others gathered to enjoy Sinister Realm’s halftime set, and it seemed like the remainder headed for the restrooms. A tip if you are planning on attending a future bout; use the restroom upon arrival as the lines were similar to those earlier for tickets (out the door and long). During the half some Rollergirls from both teams mingled with the fans and their supporters while others retreated to their respective dressing rooms for a much needed break and strategy talk.
It is said (by who I don’t recall) that the second half of a roller derby bout is faster paced and more intense, and the second half of this matchup didn’t fail to disappoint. Unfortunately our Hissy Fits were unable to regain the lead, but they continuously nipped hard at the All-Stars heels and showed aggression and tenacity as they attempted to narrow the gap. With 2:44 remaining in the final half the score was Lehigh Valley 107 – 177 Central New York. The Hissy Fits were able to add an astonishing 35 points in those final minutes of the bout while keeping the All Stars from scoring any additional points for a final score of 142 – 177.
Following the match the announcers encouraged the fans to gather around the perimeter of the track to give the members of each team a high five as they skated a lap around the track. Rollergirls from both teams stuck around for autographs and posed for pictures with anyone who asked. Roller Derby more so than most other professional sports is accessible and fan friendly. I highly encourage you to check it out and I promise you will become as hooked on it as I have.
The Lehigh Valley Hissy Fits next take on Harrisburg Area Roller Derby (H.A.R.D.) Nuclear Knockouts @ Harrisburg on April 3, at the Olympic Skating Center in Enola, PA Doors open at 5:30pm, bout to begin at 6:00pm. Tickets are $10 in advance with online sales concluding12 hours prior to start. For additional information or to purchase tickets see: http://harrisburgarearollerderby.com/