Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Gotham Girls Take Germantown!

Solidarity and cheers in Germantown PA

Over the weekend, GothamGirls Jr roller derby team made their way to Germantown PA for a weekend of matches.  I love coming to Germantown, a Philadelphia neighborhood full of cobbled 18th century homes, founded in 1683 off an old Native American trading route. 

I love Derby.  Both punk rock and competition, it draws a wild group of kids, most all rough and tumble.  Defying gender norms, the boys, yes boys skate, with girls. 

But this is contested terrain.  For some, it is a game like any other, with the competition which grinds.  For others, its a kindov punk rock.   Kids wear rainbow gear and brawl, embracing a DiY ethos.  Just as punk is more than music, derby is more than just a game.  Its an expression, bringing a wide variety of opinions, ideas, and ways of looking at sport.  This is to be embraced. 

At the games, bodies hurled across the rink as these kids smashed, checked, jammed, defended and generally wreaked havoc on each other.  

We arrived as Philly played Pittsburgh.  A mixed team with boys and girls, I saw one junior player in a man's body check a young woman from Pittsburgh, sending her flying face first into the floor, where she  seemed knocked out.  The  next play, I saw a girl from Pittsburgh go down hard, screaming, writhing in pain.  They needed to carry her off the field. Looked like she broke her leg. Alternately exhilarating and violent, the game is like rugby on skates. 

That afternoon, the Gotham Girls played Duval, a nationally team ranked team that played with cohesion and aggression.  My hero, Bernie Slammers, spent much of the game in the penalty box.

Hit, hit hit, they pounded Gotham, over two matches. The kids love skating together, learning a little about how to take a hit, get up, smile and smash back all afternoon long.  I always surprised where Derby takes us.