High Impact

Roller Derby roars into Longplex

Photos and story Richard W. Dionne Jr.
Posted 6/25/19

Whistles echoed and bodies crashed to the floor in the new Longplex building as Providence Roller Derby hosted their annual Rhodey Robin Tournament in Tiverton on Saturday and Sunday.

Flat track …

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High Impact

Roller Derby roars into Longplex

Posted

Whistles echoed and bodies crashed to the floor in the new Longplex building as Providence Roller Derby hosted their annual Rhodey Robin Tournament in Tiverton on Saturday and Sunday.

Flat track roller derby teams from Quebec, Long Island, Rochester and host Providence set up camp in Longplex in a two day tournament of hitting, camaraderie and fun.

A track was set up on the Longplex basketball courts with stands, a scoreboard, much needed penalty box and souvenir shop.

“It’s nerve racking being out on the track,” said Providence Roller Derby president Shannon Haluck. “You can practice, but you never know what you’re going to get, so it can be really scary. But it’s fun too. It’s really fun!”

“There are four blockers and a jammer on each team,” said Haluck.

“The jammer wearing the star on her helmet, gets a point for every opposing blocker that she passes” but those points come at a price as the jammer is blocked and pummeled.

“There’s offense and defense going at the same time. It’s chaotic,” Haluck said.

BrassKnuckx, J-Ail-Jo, Bounty and Gigi Crackaface of the Quebec Les Duchesses were pitted against Turdschmerggle, Indiana Bones, Abra Cadaver and Crashtastic Cate of the Long Island Roller Rebels on Saturday.

The Quebec team steamrolled Long Island, winning the bout 302-82. The Les Duchesses are motivated bunch.The team is large in numbers and size and packs a big punch. Running up the score on the smaller Roller Rebels helped the team’s world ranking.

“We’re ranked 114th in the Flat Track Association’s world rankings and they are ranked 115th, said Susan ‘Bounty’ Plissey of Les Duchesses.

“We went into the bout thinking that it was going to be close. Our goal was just to win. But when you play a sanctioned bout, the more you win by,” the better it is for your ranking.

“We tried to keep our penalties down, said Plissey, “But we struggled with that. The other team did too.”

Plissy isn’t fond of her derby monicker. “My derby name is not that cool,” she said.

Plissey lives in Northern Maine and has been playing roller derby for six years. She began her career in Bangor, but liked what she saw in the Quebec team, so she made the switch three years ago.

“It’s been a good match. I recently had a child. The team bought me a car seat so I could still commute to practice. Even though my French isn’t that good, they are so accepting of me. They are like my sisters and I really enjoy playing with them,” she said.

Les Duchesses captain Josie ‘J-Ail Joe’ Garneau of Quebec City loves coming to Tiverton. “

It’s great to be here,” she said. “This is our second time playing in this tournament. We are enjoying the nice weather.”

Garneau cites Les Duchesses’ team strategy, hard work and team commitment for it’s success.

Plissey enjoyed playing on Long Plex’s grippy surface.

“It helped as a blocker,” said Plissey.

But Garneau, who is battling a leg injury, prefers the slick concrete that the Quebec team plays on.

“It was so grippy, I felt that we were always standing instead of moving quickly,” Garneau said.

Plissey and Garneau both see injuries and recruitment as two challenges.

Ankles and concussions are the most common injuries according to Garneau.

“Ankle sprains are the most common injuries. And then concussions,” said Plissey.

“It’s the impact. Then the movement of your head snapping forward and snapping back,” Plissey said. “Also there are a lot of high blocks, shoulders to the head. It’s a penalty. But it happens a lot.

Josie got one last year and she was out most of last year with a concussion.”

Finding good players isn’t easy.

“People see it as a cutting edge, cool sport to play. Then they get to a practice and they realize that they don’t just get to look cool and hit people. There’s a strategy and it’s a lot of hard work,” said Plissey.

Providence Roller Derby has two travel teams, the RI Riveters and the Killah Bees and three home teams, the Sakonnet River Roller Rats, the Old Money Honeys and the Mob Squad. Their next home bout is at the Alex and Ani Center on July 27.

For more, check their Facebook page or website at http://providencerollerderby.com/.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.