(Photos by Bob Dunnell)
St. Louis sports fans might not be familiar with a local team on eight wheels that has garnered global exposure and success the past two calendar years.
If Arch Rival Roller Derby, the local women’s flat-track skating franchise, has their say this weekend in post-season play, their current status will keep pushing forward and upward and their legend will grow.
Currently ranked eighth internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), ARCH competes at the governing bodies’ international Division 1 playoff round held in Dallas, Texas that begins Friday morning.
In the twelve-team bracketed tournament, third-seeded St. Louis (4-4) plays a Saturday noon quarterfinal against the winner of a play-in game between the sixth-seeded Queen City Roller Girls and eleventh-seeded Houston Roller Derby held the day prior.
For the weekend, the top four finishers in Dallas advance to the WFTDA Championships that will be held at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in November.
Arch Rival seeks their third straight trip to the Hydra Cup international finale with a medal finish at Dallas this weekend. As one would expect, the squad is chomping at the bit to take to the flat-track.
“The anticipation of this weekend continues to build,” said ARCH co-captain Bricktator of the team’s mindset. “Like last year, we are playing in the final weekend of Playoffs. On one hand, it’s nice to get a sense of tournament play before we travel, but on the other hand, can we play already?”
As with any sports franchise, skills set, experience and depth are key components to potential success. For ARCH’s post-season, a majority of skaters in the charter have competed in the last two championship cycles.
“This team runs deep,” Bricktator assessed. “Everyone brings something incredibly valuable to the table and we wouldn’t be as successful without it.”
Alongside the co-captain, returning jammers Annie Swanson and Harmony Killerbruise will pace an offense that is supplemented by veteran blockers Cloak N’ Drag-Her, Smarty McFly, Shear-Ra Powers, Salty, Shimmy Hoffa, Kayla Woodward, Jamheiser Bush, Bolt Action, Krista Grant, CupQuake and Party Foul.
A pair of recent transfers, each that have prior post-season portfolios, will be added to Arch Rival’s 20-skater charter heading into the weekend. Jammer Reptar had solid seasons logged with Denver Roller Derby and Kansas City Roller Warriors and 10-year veteran Vicious Van GoGo has hoisted numerous Hydra Cups with Gotham Girls Roller Derby as a dual jamming/blocking threat.
According to Bricktator, both bring plenty to ARCH’s proverbial table this post-season.
“Vicious and Reptar have blended wonderfully into our team,” she said. “They are both incredibly kind, eager learners, and the best kind of weird.”
ARCH’s .500 record might be misleading as their four regular season losses were against leagues within the WFTDA’s global top five: Victorian (Australia), Gotham (New York), Angel City (Los Angeles) and Denver. Last month, the locals picked up Sunshine State wins again #9 Jacksonville and #13 Atlanta to prepare.
Bricktator feels that this strength of schedule could play to St. Louis’ favor.
“We know what it’s like to be in challenging and high-pressure situations,” she said. “Due to our schedule this year, we are battle-tested and ready for anything.
St. Louis is prepared for Saturday’s quarterfinal opponent, whether it be Buffalo, New York-based Queen City (4-1 and ranked #18 internationally) or Houston (4-1 and ranked #36).
“Friday is a scouting day,” assessed Bricktator. “It is our chance to see if teams are implementing new strategies or utilizing new skills that were not captured in footage from previous games.”
However, the squad does have a new historical benchmark to achieve as they have yet to reach the gold medal game at a Division 1 playoff. In the past two years, ARCH has competed, and won, a post-season bronze medal game.
“While we are coming in as a three seed, we definitely have our eye on that gold medal game,” said Bricktator. “The journey to that game will not be easy but we have the right mix of talent, grit, and smarts to make it happen.”
Weekend coverage is available for purchase via stream through WFTDA.tv.
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