By Tehya Boggs aka Bad Lil Jamma
An event that attracts teams from all over the United States, the Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) Championships (July 20th-22nd) present high-level teams with an opportunity to showcase their skills against some of the top athletes in the sport. Angel City Junior Derby’s (ACJD) Junior Charter team, The A-Listers, set their goal to compete at this event at the beginning of the season in January 2018. As a new skater on the team, I was one of several major roster changes that occurred between this season and the previous season. We jumped into our practices with an intensity to which I had to be quickly acclimated.
My team had our hopes set high for what we would accomplish at our tournament, SoCal Shakedown on April 6th-8th, 2018. We centered our training completely to contend with the respectable, hard-hitting teams of Gotham Girls Junior Derby and the Inland Northwest Island Pixies. These games were significant in that we were hoping they would act as a precedent for the games we would play in this season. The final score against the Gotham Girls was 270 to 171, and the score for the game against Inland Northwest was 311 to 194. In both games ACJD was triumphant, and we were thrilled as our confidence in ourselves and each other became stronger than ever.
The juniors resumed practice with our fiery determination in preparation for the annual Big O tournament in Eugene, Oregon on May 4th-6th, 2018. We planned to take on the Seattle Derby Brats, the Santa Cruz Derby Groms, and the Rose City Rosebuds. Upon arrival and warm-up for our first game against Seattle, the team was shaken up by the news that Dizzy Izzy, one of our starting jammers, would be unable to play in the game. The first half of the bout was complete chaos, and though we cleaned up our gameplay in the second half, we still lost with a score of 308 to 166. During the game, some of our skaters suffered injuries that prohibited them from playing for the rest of the weekend. Other than the major injuries, some of the team was beaten up and we were not in the mental space to play the powerful Derby Groms. Among others, these were the main reasons for the team to decide to forfeit our game versus Santa Cruz. We returned to the venue Sunday well-rested after having reflected on the setbacks of the previous day; we were ready for what could be the deciding factor on whether ACJD would make it to championships. Our team ended up winning the game 336 to 192, and it was a relieving way to end the emotional weekend.
When The A-Listers received the invitation to JRDA championships to represent ACJD, we were proud that we had achieved our goal, but something was wrong with our team dynamic. We were struggling to get through practices and it was like a switch had been flipped. The team was hesitant to whether we wanted to play in Philadelphia for the championship tournament. After a few weeks, we managed to get out of the bad mental state that seemed to hang over the entire team. Everyone committed themselves to giving everything they were capable of at practice because we were not about to give up. Later, we blamed the psychological rut on having injured skaters, in addition to losing and forfeiting two out of three of our games at Big O.
The juniors have had to demonstrate mental and physical resiliency to make it to champs. Though at times it seemed nonexistent, it was necessary to possess trust in ourselves as individuals and in each other as a team. Our plans to travel to Philadelphia would have been cancelled if the team did not get through the rough patches at practice and in games. We would not be as strong as I know ACJD is without the amazing coaching generously provided by Lo Betancourt, Brawl Stanley, Psycho, Rachel Rotten, Tui Lyon, Pearl Jam, Satan’s Little Helper, and Lady Trample who all worked assiduously to ensure that we were ready for any challenge we would face. Our season was also greatly influenced by our team therapists Brittney and Autumn, to whom we are extremely grateful.
At the championship event, we will be able to look back on all that we as a team have gone through and all the adversity we have faced and use it to fuel our tenacity. Performing well will only be a matter of our mental fortitude, as the team has the skills and abilities to accomplish anything. We will have to have the trust we have worked so hard to maintain, and it will be important for us to play as a team, and not as individuals.
Be sure to support our #3 ranked JRDA team, The A-Listers represent ACJD at JRDA Championships July 20th-22nd in Feasterville-Trevose, PA. Email Juniors@AngelCityDerby.com for more information.