SANTA CRUZ, CA >> The Santa Cruz Derby Girls took on the world, seemingly, this weekend — and emerged triumphant.
At the second annual Boardwalk Empire roller derby tournament, Santa Cruz’s all-star team, the Boardwalk Bombshells, achieved an impressive four-game sweep against visiting teams from Finland, Arizona, Maryland and Michigan.
The tournament was hosted privately at the league’s local practice facility.
Bolstered by solid wins against Helsinki’s Kallio All Colours, Phoenix’s Tent City Terrors and Baltimore’s Charm City All Stars on Friday and Saturday, the confident Bombshells completed their sweep by beating the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes Brawlstars, 177-92.
A home team victory was far from assured, however. With the Bombshells ranked No. 21 internationally and Ann Arbor close behind at No. 26, the stakes were high for this competitive match.
The top-tier level of skill and strategy on display from both teams resulted in a tense first quarter. Ann Arbor seized a narrow early lead, but Santa Cruz was never far behind. Following several lead changes, the Bombshells secured lead jammer status eight jams in a row, sprinting ahead for a significant advantage by halftime.
Jammers on both teams had to fight hard for every point, confronting well-coordinated and often impassable walls of blockers. In the penalty-laden game, Ann Arbor suffered from multiple jammer penalties, freeing Santa Cruz to pile on the points in high-scoring power jams.
“I’m super proud of them,” said Shana Kiyler Kerr, who coaches for Santa Cruz as Ima Hotmess. “That was a scary game. I never felt like the win was in the bag. It never felt easy.”
Santa Cruz also fielded a pick-up team, the Harbor Hellcats, for the B-level track of the tournament, competing against Arizona Roller Derby’s Phoenix Rising and the Undead Bettys from Antioch.
“We pulled together a pretty outstanding team, having only about four weeks playing together,” said Hellcats coach Erica Boehnlein, also known as Mean Bean Casserole. “We were able to have strong walls and good chemistry on the track.”
The Hellcats faced an especially tough opponent in Phoenix Rising. With both teams fielding daunting defensive walls and agile, tenacious jammers, the point spread remained close in the first half. But significant penalties diminished Santa Cruz’s forces, leading to an Arizona victory, 182-144.
The Hellcats sprung back with a decisive win of 311-101 against the Undead Bettys, building a steadily growing lead from start to finish.
“It’s always fun to play against competitive teams that give it their all,” said Hellcats captain Caroline Harness, who skates as Eve Elle Dewars. “(Undead Bettys jammer) Joss-Hole was an incredibly talented skater who gave us a run for our money, along with the rest of their hard-hitting team. This is what we practice for, this is why we play hard every chance we get.”
**Article by Sophia Booth Magnone as printed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel**
**Photo Credit: Lauren Macadaeg ©2017**