For years, they were referred to as sister leagues, and traditionally, the Classic City Rollergirls would lose their most talented skaters to seemingly greener pastures down 316. Atlanta has a roller derby team perennially ranked in the Top 20 and great facilities, plus a bevy of talent. Until recently, it was tough for the smaller-market squad to compete. It’s 2018, and derby, like everything else, is fluid.
This relationship has evolved. Now, when CCRG and any team from the Atlanta league square off, there’s more rivalry in the air than reverence. As Athens continues to retain quality skaters and climb the WFTDA rankings, it's set its sights on Atlanta. The sport of roller derby will absolutely benefit from a long-term, competitive feud between two teams separated by a scrap of geography and connected by a decades-long roster incestuousness of sorts.
Another chapter in the rivalry was written Saturday night at the Athens Arena, when the CCRG All-Stars went toe-stop to toe-stop with the heavily favored Atlanta Rumble Bs. The hometown team took the track with a gutted roster—skating without key contributors Crazy Cait Lady, Elizabeth Impaler, Kill Easy, Lady Voldehurt and Cirque de Soleil—but they didn’t let the obvious disadvantage discourage them.
Down 0-4 early in the bout, CCRG stormed back, holding the visiting team scoreless in back-to-back jams to take a 9-6 lead with just over 25 minutes left in the half. The adversaries wasted little time establishing a fervent tug of war on wheels, with Atlanta immediately taking back the lead, employing a relentless defense that forced CCRG jammers to work hard. They did, and Atlanta never established momentum, and at halftime the home team was hot on ATL’s heels, trailing 72-75.
When defenders weren't completely successful holding each other scoreless, they delivered bone-rattling hits that left indelible marks on the bodies and in the minds of their foes. A pair of former ATL skaters, Dani Doom and Dr. Evil, anchored their respective defense lineups with an infectious, never-say-quit approach to disrespecting Atlanta’s jammers. The former also found herself wearing the jammer star on occasion, and that versatility was critically important to Classic City’s success.
In the first jam of the second half, CCRG co-captain Louis Strongarm picked up four quick points, putting CCRG back on top 76-75. Three minutes later, with our home team leading 82-77, a nasty pile-up in turn three left Strongarm with a back injury that kept her out of the lineup for a lot of the second half. Atlanta took a 91-86 lead two jams later and had to look over its shoulder the rest of the way, holding on at the end 160-143. Classic City has to be brimming with confidence after the awesome battle. Flagpole’s already ready for the rematch.
The Rollergirls are hosting a huge tournament, the Classic City Crush, at the Classic Center this weekend, July 7–8. Visit classiccityrollergirls.com for more info.