USA Roller Sports and USARS Roller Derby are presenting the 2016 Roller Derby National Championships, held this year in Lincoln, Neb. The event is a part of the combined USARS Nationals happening all this month, and is the capper to a full week of roller derby that included the JRDA Championships and Roller Derby Junior Olympic Games.
Until this year, USARS Roller Derby has been off to the side of the larger USA Roller Sports family, holding its national championship in the fall independently of the other USARS disciplines. That worked well in the beginning, but after struggling to attract new teams and finding existing teams had conflicts with their WFTDA commitments, USARS had to make a change.
That change wasn’t just made in the roller derby arm, either. USA Roller Sports effectively cleaned house, ousting its previous leadership and making sweeping changes to unify everyone under the USARS umbrella. That ultimately resulted in the combined national championship, where all USARS disciplines will be competing under the same roof during an entire month of solid rollersports action. It also led to the partnership with the JRDA, who organized the junior roller derby events ahead of USARS Nationals.
The agreement between USARS and the JRDA is already proving useful to USARS Roller Derby. Many young skaters that participated at JRDA Champs and at the Junior Olympics are staying on for the rest of the week to try their hand at USARS-style roller derby, either joining the rosters of existing senior teams or forming all-juniors teams of their own.
The influx of skaters and teams to USARS Nationals made it necessary for USARS to expand the schedule to include a third day, after originally being scheduled for just two. The timing of the tournament is a bit odd—Thursday through Saturday morning, instead of the typical Friday-Sunday weekend we’re used to—but with how the JRDA schedules panned out and with everything else going on at the venue during the week1 it was the only way to make it work this year.
Seven teams will play for the championship, including the returning and four-time champions the Oly Rollers. The Chicago Red Hots are also returning to Nationals. Everyone other team competing this year is new to USARS competition.
That’s kind of been the pattern for USARS over the five years it’s been offering its roller derby option. It has no problem generating interest and getting new teams to form, but it has had a lot of problems keeping those interested teams around to commit to the tournament season. USARS is hoping that things will start improving moving forward now that it has some stability with the date and location for Nationals—the tournament will be in Lincoln next year as well.
Like the rest of the USARS events happening throughout the month, the roller derby portion of Nationals will be streamed live online, though not for free. Like, really not free: The sticker price for a full event pass is $45. A coupon code provided after free registration will knock 15% off that price (making it $38), and day passes are available if you just want watch a portion of the competition. Still, that ain’t cheap.
The silver lining for USARS and its fans is that the broadcast setup this year is leaps and bounds better than last year. In 2015, there was no official broadcast, just an unofficial Periscope feed. In 2016, there will be a full-production HD feed with multiple camera angles, viewable on all your devices.
The stream for USARS Nationals is available to purchase from Tenacious Sports, the official broadcaster, via this link.
The full schedule, bracket, rundown of teams, and rosters are below.
2016 USARS Derby National Championship
All times Eastern
Thursday, July 14
10:45 a.m. – Opening Ceremony
11:00 a.m. – G1: Chicago Red Hots vs. California Mayhem
1:00 p.m. – G2: Coast 2 Coast vs. Lincoln Lightning
3:00 p.m. – G3: Midwest All-Stars vs. Oly Rollers II
5:00 p.m. – G4: Oly Rollers I vs. G1 Winner
8:00 p.m. – USARS Social Open Skate
Friday, July 15
11:00 a.m. – G5: G2 Winner vs. G3 Winner
1:00 p.m. – G6: G2 Loser vs. G2 Loser
3:00 p.m. – G7: G1 Loser vs. G5 Loser
5:00 p.m. – G8: G6 Winner vs. G4 Loser
8:00 p.m. – Team USA Scrimmage
Saturday, July 15
10:00 a.m. – Third Place: Winner G7 vs Winner G8
12:00 p.m. – National Championship: Winner G4 vs. Winner G5
5th Nationals Appearance
4-Time USARS Champions (2012-15)
Though still a member of the WFTDA , and forever and always the 2009 WFTDA National Champions, Oly has heavily committed to its USARS roller derby program over the past several years to allow for their juniors to skate with their adult players (and against adult opponents) in competition, something that only USARS allows. That’s yielded a USARS national derby championship every year they’ve fielded a team.
Oly is doubling down in 2016, sending two teams to Lincoln. Yes, that’s right—two separate squads flying under the Oly Rollers banner. (USARS derby nationals is an open tournament, which allows any eligible team to enter. This includes secondary teams from the same skate club.) Oly I is the defending champion, the top seed, and will receive a bye into the second round. Oly II will have to fight it out in the first round like the other teams.
Oly I consists of many of the usual suspects, including Sassy, Tannibal Lector, Re-AnimateHer, Blonde ‘n Bitchin’, and Dee-Stroyer. The team hasn’t faced much resistance during their previous title runs, though their game against V-Diva and the PA All-Stars in 2015 was the first time they were held to under 100 points in interleague USARS play.2. PAAS isn’t at the tournament this year, so there’s no sure bet as to who might challenge Oly this year.
Unless it’s the other Oly?
Oly II mostly consists of skaters, many of them juniors, from other area leagues that have joined the club to play at USARS Nationals. One of the standouts on the second squad is Frank the Bunny, who only last month was named Most Valuable Jammer for her regular RDCL team, the Tilted Thunder Peeps, at Battle on the Bank IX in Philadelphia. Mad Medic and Dainty Disaster are among others on Oly II who competed with Oly at Nationals last year.
It’s a sure bet that Oly I will be in the final playing for the gold medal once again. Will Oly II be joining them for an all-Oly final?
Oly Rollers I Roster
Oly Rollers II Roster
Chicago Red Hots
3rd Nationals Appearance
Best Finish: 4th (of 4 teams, 2015)
The Red Hots are the most successful USARS club in the country, at least off the track, having carved out a nice fanbase in the Chicago area. On the track? They’re working on it. The lost all of their games at Nationals last year, including twice to Oly by scores of 280-5 and 265-5. With two Oly teams this year, a rematch with them seems unavoidable.
On the other hand, the team does well at home against fairly good opponents. In Feburary they beat their MRDA friends the Chicago Bruise Brothers 60-41, and also defeated MADE National Champs Fountain City Roller Derby last month. More pertinent to USARS Nationals, the Red Hots had two wins over fellow nationals competitor Midwest All-Stars, 135-56 and 167-44.
Chicago is led by captain Gwen Goolie and Dakota Prosch. Prosch skated with Windy City as Kola Loka before founding the Red Hots in 2012. They’ll be joined by two outstanding junior skaters, sisters Lily and Mackenzie Chesko, who are also participating in the inaugural AAU Roller Derby Junior Olympic Games happening in the days before Nationals. If all goes well for Chicago, they will be playing in as many as five straight days of tournament roller derby!
Chicago Red Hots Roster
1st USARS Nationals Appearance
Though the club is new, many of its members have lots of experience in USARS roller derby through the various Northern California teams that have participated in past USARS tournaments. But besides that, no matter how the Mayhem fare this week, they’ll return home winners in at least some regard.
The Mayhem juniors team was also in Lincoln for JRDA Championships, where they placed third in the open division. A few of the players from that team will be joining the senior team at USARS Nationals, along with a sprinkling of junior skaters from elsewhere.
In fact, “elsewhere” is from quite a few places. Despite the California moniker, skaters from Arizona, New Jersey, South Carolina, and even Saskatchewan are rostered on the team and ready for some roller derby mayhem, USARS style. They’ll take on the Red Hots Thursday morning in the first game of Nationals.
California Mayhem Roster
1st USARS Nationals Appearance
Like many teams that form up to play USARS, the Midwest All-Stars prefer a “faster form of roller derby.” They’ll certainly find that at Nationals this weekend! The club is co-ed by nature, but will only be fielding a ladies’ squad this time around.
Actually, most of the team’s games this year have been co-ed. Their first-ever game was against Chicago, the 135-56 loss in Feburary. That was girls vs. girls (as would be a potential rematch at Nationals) but the other two games of significance were XXY affairs. The co-ed game with the Red Hots in May was their other loss against the team. Last month, the Midwest got a 119-61 win in a hangover bout against Fountain City after they played the Red Hots in their game the day before.
The team’s first game of the tournament will be against Oly II, which should prove to be a very good litmus test for both teams.
Midwest All-Stars Roster
Coast 2 Coast
National Pick-Up Team
1st USARS Nationals Appearance
Every team at USARS Nationals this year has a fair number of under-17 skaters on their rosters. Coast 2 Coast is one of two teams that is virtually all junior skaters!
And a very eclectic selection of them at that. The bulk of the team comes by way Florida (Tampa, Duval, Attack Pack), Colorado (FOCO), and Arizona (Tucson), with some adult veterans from WFTDA leagues in the midwest are also sprinkled in there.
The seemingly random selection of the team is very interesting, to say the least. The biggest thing they have in common was that the majority of skaters participated at JRDA Championships earlier in the week. Still, we have no clue how it will fare in this tournament, which is played under USARS rules. If anything else, Coast 2 Coast is very fortunate to be facing the most favorable possible opponent in the first round…
Coast 2 Coast Roster
1st USARS Nationals Appearance
Taking the USARS regulations on juniors participation to their logical extreme, the Lincoln Lightning are—near as we can tell—nothing but outstanding junior players. One of them, Betty Rocker, was selected for the Roller Derby Junior Olympics.
Needless to say, the team’s entry into USARS Nationals is uncharted territory for roller derby, let alone for USARS. We have to wonder if pairing Lincoln and Coast 2 Coast against each other in the first round, the two teams with the heaviest makeup of juniors and least USARS experience, was a deliberate move by the organizers in a bid to ease everyone into things.
Nonetheless, it will be mighty interesting to see how well the juniors do against other teams as they progress through the bracket. A lot of people in the roller derby community like to think that a lot of junior skaters, most of which have years of skating and derby experience under their belts despite their age, could take it to the adults if given the chance.
Well, here’s their chance. What will they make of it?
Lincoln Lightning Roster
Team USA Women’s Roller Derby
Since the end of Nationals last year in Philadelphia, USARS has been going through the process of selecting a national roller derby team. A series of tryouts held across the country, and a final tryout at the home base of the Oly Rollers in Washington state, whittled down the field of prospective players. What remained is the 27 skaters making up the first officially-recognized Team USA for roller derby.
Wait a minute, you might be thinking. Isn’t there already a Team USA roller derby? The World Cup team? Well, yes and no.
Of course there’s the existing USA Roller Derby team, the team borne from the WFTDA roller derby community that was formed leading up to the inagural Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup in 2011.
The problem is—if you see it as a problem—USA Roller Derby is not currently recognized as the official representative of the sport by the United States government and all of its sporting agencies. Because of this, the WC teams (the women and the men) are not allowed to use the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Team USA™ trademark3 to promote itself and cannot participate in officially sanctioned competitions in the Olympic family.
That’s something USARS and its international rollersports parent FIRS has been working towards. Earlier this week, the first fruits of those efforts came to being with the inagural Roller Derby Junior Olympics competition. Next year, FIRS will offer the first roller derby world championship competition at the Roller Games in China.
This (“the”) Team USA will be playing for that championship. But first it will be cleaved in half and made to play against one another in an exhibition game/final test on Friday night at USARS Nationals. Depending on how the roster is split, it could turn out to be an Oly vs. The Rest of the U.S. game, with the Oly Rollers making up half of the full roster.
But it’s sure to be a fast, fierce, and competitive game nonetheless. For as relatively small as the USARS roller derby community still is at this point, putting together two highly skilled and evenly matched teams has been something that doesn’t happen often. (When it does happen, it’s mind-blowing.) With the Team USA scrimmage, everyone should get a clearer impression of the potential the USARS style of gameplay may hold, both domestically and internationally.
Team USA Women’s Roller Derby Full Roster
Chantell Bertollini – Bellingham, WA
Anice Bommerscheim – Westport, WA
Tannah Elwess – Olympia, WA
Siana Garcia – Vacaville, CA
Misty Greer – Fremont, CA
Casey Honeywell – Oak Grove, MO
Rochelle Jubert – Corvallis, OR
Amanda Kendal-Brown – Chicago, IL
Patricia Leazier – Greencastle, PA
Sara LeMay – Lakewood, WA
Yvonne Martinez – Bakersfield, CA
Kayla Meinheit – Port Orchard, WA
Angela Moscoso – Philadelphia, PA
Lindsey Mueller – Seattle, WA
Kristine Northrup – Endwell, NY
Susan Pack – Tacoma, WA
Jysela Pena – Olympia, WA
Alyssa Pray – Bonney Lake, WA
Dakota Prosch – Chicago, IL
Roismaire Rickel – Shoreline, WA
Decoda Sordahl – Olympia, WA
Erin Stillwell – Kansas City, MO
Dianne Story – Olympia, WA
Shannon Straws – Edgewood, WA
Bryce Tamaccio – Olalla, WA
Lexi Wagor – Olympia, WA
Selina Winner – Olympia, WA
Coach – Dani Lewis
Coach – Re-AnimateHer