…also known as Regulation Scrimmage
(by Undead Miss Red)
Once a week, our practice time isn’t about drills and scenarios. We don’t focus on agility or endurance or speed. Once a week, we show up and just play roller derby together. Technically, it’s called Regulation Scrimmage; but since joining the Outfit in January 2013, I’ve always thought of it as Family Night. And here’s what it looks like….
We walk into our practice space at Fleetwood Roller Rink, wearing either black or white as our practice jersey — and all of us, to one extent or another, sometimes more intently than others, start looking around to see which Outfit skaters wore the same color as we did that night. (Full disclosure: Mimi Furst and I have been known to text each other in advance and agree on a color so we can play on the same side.) This is also when we wear some of our more ridiculous Outfit swag — Hero Shima, one of our PhD’ed skaters, wears her ‘Stoopid Shima’ jersey; Nikita wears one with her signature cheer for Matza across the back (‘Yeah, wife!’); and ask any 2013 Shakedown skater about our infamous Steak & Shakedown alter ego jerseys, because those are out in full effect at scrimmage, too. We get into our gear, warm up, and then get in line for an equipment check from our refs, just like you see before the start of a bout. The bench coaches and NSOs are there, too (along with penalty boxes). We split off into sides for a quick strategy talk, and then the first of two 30-minute halves gets underway.
The Chicago Outfit doesn’t have ‘home teams’ like many other derby leagues, where leaguemates compete against each other for a crowd. We are an all-travel league, which means we only play teams from other cities, either on their turf or ours. So our scrimmages are the one chance we have to play full-scale derby together. We capitalize on the strengths we see in our leaguemates, both veterans and newer skaters. We use the time to work on our weaknesses, both individually and as a league. Everybody jams. The hits are every bit as real as in a bout against another city, too. Take a second to consider what it’s like to join the Outfit and skate in your first scrimmage, heading out onto the jam line alongside Suzie Crotchrot, or to put on the jammer star for the first time ever and realize you need to get past Lethal Dose. It’s intimidating, but also one of the most supportive environments I’ve ever encountered.
We cheer like crazy when we see someone do something great — on either side, because we’re excited to see fellow Outfit skaters make something amazing happen, whether they’re wearing the same jersey as we are that night or not. We yell even louder when a newer skater out-jams The Joan Ranger, or ducks past Lady K in one piece. I’m pretty sure I’ve never skated back to the bench area after a jam at scrimmage without hearing at least one compliment from one skater to another. Our Family is awesome.
Tonight is our last Regulation Scrimmage before the last home bout of the 2014 Chicago Outfit season. While we practice in the off-season, we won’t start scrimmaging each other again until January. We’ll gear up, split into sides and play our guts out tonight. We’ll name MVPs at the end of the night, as we always do. But MVP or not, each of us will think about how we skated as we stretch out afterward. Each of us will mentally note something we did really well on the track; we’ll try not to dwell on that one thing we completely screwed up. And more than a few of us will realize how much we’ll miss Family Night during the off-season.
Come out to the Windy City Fieldhouse this Saturday for our Home Closer against the DC Rollergirls — doors at 6:00, first bout at 7:00. The Chicago Outfit has had a fantastic 2014 season, and there is no one we would rather celebrate with at our Home Closer than every single member of our Extended Family.
Click here for tickets, and we’ll see you Saturday!
by Suzie Crotchrot
Earlier last week, some members of the Chicago Outfit teamed up with our yoga sponsor, Indigo Studios, and joined Girls in the Game for some afternoon yoga in the park.
Established in 1995, Girls in the Game is a nonprofit youth organization that provides and promotes sports and fitness opportunities, nutrition and health education, and leadership development to enhance the overall health and well-being of young women. The Chicago Outfit supports Girls in the Game as one of our chosen bout charities, to whom a portion of our proceeds from a home bout is donated. This is our second season working with Girls in the Game.
We arrived to a picture perfect day at Union Park, where the sun and wind were in balanced harmony, setting an appropriate tone for our exercise. After introducing ourselves, we all sat and began our session. I was pleasantly surprised by how attentive and polite all of the participants were, because I have personally found that trying to lead a group of teens is comparable to herding kittens in a yarn factory. Not the case here — everyone happily participated and challenged themselves with no complaints, getting the most out of our workout.
After we all completed our session, Outfit members sat in front and started to talk about roller derby. Knowing that these young women knew little about our sport, we started off light, talking about our own experiences (or no experience) playing other sports which eventually led into why we play roller derby. There was an eclectic group of skaters there — Kim Mortal, Mimi Furst, Undead Miss Red and myself — ranging in age and lifestyle, so we were each able to provide a different background story and reason for playing. Some play for the camaraderie, some for the exercise…some for the violence in a controlled environment. No matter what our reasons for playing or joining, we all came back to a similar conclusion: we love the sport, for what it does for us mentally and physically, for bringing us together with a goal in mind no matter our lifestyle.
The question of injuries and size of players also came up. While I told them that various parts of my knees are held together by rubber bands and black magic, I got some worried looks. We then went on to explain that we are taught how to take hits and fall correctly, and that derby players will INDEED fall a lot. After the girls understood that this is just a way of life and how we don’t even notice after a while, their looks softened and became more intrigued. Then came the “what about small/bigger girls question”, which is my favorite, because we could surely provide some fine examples of small women that play like bulls and bigger women that move like gazelles. There is something for everyone of every size!
We all had a wonderful time hanging out and hope to have more opportunities with Girls in the Game. I personally really enjoyed it because this was something that I wish had been around when I was an awkward teen, figuring out awkward life. I mean, seriously, what if a group of women came up to me and told me they got together four times a week to kick each others’ butts for free for a few hours? Wait, no one had hard feelings about it after? No assault charges?! What?! DONE!
For more info on Girls In the Game, visit www.girlsinthegame.org
Check out The Chicago Outfit’s yoga sponsor, Indigo Studios at www.theindigostudio.com
The Chicago Outfit Roller Derby league needs your help! We have the greatest fans in the world and we are hoping you can help us get to Canada to do what we do best: PLAY ROLLER DERBY!
We have been invited to play at the WFTDA division 2 playoffs in Ontario Canada on August 23rd! We aim to win but there’s just one problem. We have to get there first! Funds donated will help finance our travel expenses on our way to compete. Each skater pays monthly dues to be a part of this non-profit league in addition to spending hundreds of dollars to travel and compete with teams all over the country! Your donation will help our charter skaters get to playoffs to compete in this expensive and exciting sport, while representing our fans with class, sass, and dignity.
If we reach our goal, it will cover the plane tickets of our dedicated 20 charter skaters.
Donate online here! http://www.gofundme.com/chicago-outfit-travel
Any amount means a lot to us! Thank you!
Those who have come to know and love Derby know that a relationship with her comes with many “feels.” If it were Facebook official, it would be “Complicated.” Thankfully, Derby is pretty forgiving, and wants to get back together with you as much as you want to get back together with her.
[Psst! Down here. Speaking of getting back together, The Outfit has been killing it lately, and the new June WFTDA rankings prove it. "They came out of the funk they have been in since late 2013 with some really important wins and jumped 20 places to 45, securing a 2014 playoff berth..." says Alex 'Lex Talionis' Sassoon Coby, of Derby News Network. That means you should really come see this Saturday night's home game. The Syndicate takes on Milwaukee, and the Shade Brigade faces So Ill. Get your tickets here!]
Do you know what day it is? It’s BOUT DAY.
The Chicago Outfit Roller Derby, member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), takes to the track for their second home bout of the season today, Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Doors open at 6:00pm at the Windy City Fieldhouse (2367 W. Logan Boulevard) in Chicago. The double-header kicks off with The Outfit’s Shakedown vs. the Southland Slashers (Channahon, IL) at 7:00pm, and the excitement keeps rolling with The Outfit’s Syndicate vs. Bleeding Heartland (Bloomington, IN). Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20.
In case you’ve missed the big news, The Chicago Outfit took home three out of three spectacular wins at Spring Roll 2014 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, May 16 – 18.
Last weekend, The Syndicate prevailed against Cincinatti (208-103), Connecticut (225-85) and Tri-City (161-131). Alex ‘Lex Talionis’ Sassoon Coby of Derby News Network calls The Outfit “the big rankings winners” of Spring Roll. With those three victories secured, Flat Track Stats estimated that The Outfit jumped 15 slots in its rankings, hopefully securing a slot in the D2 playoffs.