Weeks before the Arch Rival bout, there was little else the Chicago Outfit talked about more than the league trip to St. Louis. This past weekend was the first away-bout attended by all three teams this season and the opportunity to skate and travel together is always met with excitement and preparation. There were a few speed bumps along the way-lost uniform tops, canceled rides, ‘80s prom dress shopping at the Salvation Army-but once things got rolling and league members made it to the hotel it was all fun and games. Some gals and guys, myself included, decided to arrive a day early to attend the City Museum and none of us were disappointed. We all prayed for no injuries and quickly made our way through the maze of secret slides, cave tunnels, rope swings, and finally a large ferris wheel on the roof. Everyone stayed safe and we were ready to play the next day.
The next morning some of us slept in while others roamed around the pool and found breakfast. We were all anxiously awaiting and mentally preparing for the upcoming bouts we’d play later in the evening. Finally the time came; we all packed up our gear and headed for the Midwest Sports Complex. We warmed up, we strategized and stretched in the dressing rooms, and we ate the free snacks. Both teams, first the Shade Brigade and then the Syndicate, skated hard that night. It was even our own Claudia Van Damage’s first bout with our league! But unfortunately, in the end, our B team lost 155 to 53 and our A team lost 191 to 100. Our league members, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands etc all cheered their hearts out in the audience, though, and never once stopped supporting our teams. During the Syndicate bout we even started doing push ups for every point our own team scored, screaming chants like “We want to get buff!” or “We want a work out!” and even counting down the points as they were announced.
After the unfortunate two defeats, but very serious efforts, the league headed back to the hotel/casino Harrah’s for the ‘80s-themed after party. Food was set out and the Arch Rival ladies were incredibly welcoming and friendly. We gussied up in our shoulder pads and side ponytails and even one of our refs, Ref Furry, donned his infamous fake breasts/long dress combo. As if we already didn’t love him enough for making and bringing us homemade cheesecakes. The food, costumes, and people were great but I was one of the skaters playing in the Sunday scrimmage the next day and caught some early shut eye with another skater.
Unfortunately for the people riding in my car, the valet backed my mini van into another car the next day and we were stuck waiting for insurance information to be exchanged. By the time we got in the car and sped to the roller rink, we were a few minutes late. The first bout whistle was blown as we quickly pulled on our elbow pads and got an impromptu equipment check by Ref Furry. Rushing onto the track, we all immediately regrouped with our Shakedown bench coaches and teammates. For the first half of the bout, the scores were incredibly close with us generally holding on to the lead. During half time we all congratulated Jane Flinch on doing such a wonderful job and pumped each other up. Although we ended up losing 136 to 92, it felt great to skate so hard and work so well together. The Shakedown, our C team, feels like it’s really starting to work well together and having skaters from our other two teams cheering us on made the whole weekend a personal and league-wide victory.
Photo credit: Bob Dunnell