Eastbourne Extreme Roller Derby Tournament Preview

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This weekend sees the mighty Bourne Bombshells hosting the much anticipated third annual Eastbourne Extreme outdoor roller derby tournament. Saturday 12th features a four-team, seven-game tournament (matches consisting of two 20-minute halves). Sunday features five full length mixed games of varied genders and levels, plus a junior derby showcase. The event is bigger than ever this year. For the first time, there will be a second track, for team warm-ups – named ‘Track 66’ in tribute to the derby number of much loved, recently lost Nottingham Roller Girl Louisey Rider – and several internationally capped players will be appearing on the Sunday. In a moment we’ll hear from the tournament organiser, along with members of Saturday’s four competing leagues, but we’ll kick things off with details of the venue and the weekend’s timetable…

THE VENUE: ROYAL PARADE
The roller derby will be taking place in a caged off (basketball courts style) area by Eastbourne seafront, a little under a mile North East of the Pier, or roughly 23.7 minutes walk from the train station – zoom in on Google maps and look out for the ‘SK8school’ indicator. Various other extreme sports will be taking place on the seafront, in the sky and out to sea across the weekend. There are a few bars and cafes dotted around the front, although these (and the ladies’ loos nearest the derby) tend to get quite busy. The nearest alternative for pubs, takeaways and convenience stores is around five minutes inland on Seaside Road. All the after party venues are quite close to the derby, being a few minutes walk back into town. There’s also a really nice park, with a large pond, just across the road, should you be of the picnicking persuasion.

SATURDAY 12TH JULY – TOURNAMENT DAY
10:30 LRR RISING STARS v CROYDON VICE SQUAD
11:30 BOURNE BOMBSHELLS v SURREY ROLLERGIRLS
12:30 CROYDON VICE SQUAD v BOURNE BOMBSHELLS
13:30 SURREY ROLLERGIRLS v LRR RISING STARS
14:30 BOURNE BOMBSHELLS v LRR RISING STARS
15:30 CROYDON VICE SQUAD v SURREY ROLLERGIRLS
16:30 TOURNAMENT FINAL
17:30 AWARDS CEREMONY
18:30 AFTER PARTY @ REDOUBT ROLLER DISCO inc
19:00 STREAM: LONDON BRAWLING v GOTHAM GIRLS
LATE AFTER AFTER PARTY PARTY @ BUSKERS

SUNDAY 13TH JULY – MIXED TEAMS DAY
09:30 ROOKIE WOMEN’S GAME
11:00 NEW BOURNES JUNIOR DERBY EXHIBITION
12:00 INTERMEDIATE WOMEN’S GAME
13:30 MEN’S GAME
15:00 ADVANCED WOMEN’S GAME
16:30 CO-ED GAME
18:00 AWARDS CEREMONY
18:30 AFTER PARTY @ CROWN AND ANCHOR PUB
LATE AFTER AFTER PARTY PARTY @ BUSKERS

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SASSY McAWESOME – TOURNAMENT ORGANISER

The roller derby element of Eastbourne Extreme changes format each year, from a single dayer in 2012 to two one-day tournaments in 2013, to a tournament plus a day of exhibition games this year. What excites you most about the 2014 schedule, and what do you expect to be the highlights?
Each year we aim to get more roller derby to more people, so this year we had to think big. We really loved the tournament format last year. All the games were super close, so the plan for Saturday was a no brainer. But we now have three roller derby teams in Eastbourne; the well established Bourne Bombshells women’s team, the Bomb S’Quad men’s team and the New Bournes junior team, so we wanted to showcase all the varieties of derby. Suddenly we found ourselves with six games, featuring four different types of roller derby, on the Sunday!
    My highlights will be Croydon Roller Derby Vice Squad vs London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars (aka Badasses), which sees two highly ranked B-teams who haven’t come face to face before. Also the Sunday co-ed game, which finishes the exhibition day with the most advanced skaters. We imagine the general public will find this a controversial match-up, as there are no other games where boys and girls hit each other!

Is there a lot of organisation that goes into putting on Extreme? When did the planning for it begin, and who has been involved? Has the scheduling of a certain other game and boot camp [LRG v Gotham in Leeds] on the same weekend caused any problems?
It’s a Bombshells team effort, but I have headed up a small Extreme Organisation Chiefs committee with Beachy Headcase and Phoenix. We started the planning in January so we’re super prepared now! We’re lucky to have a talented and diverse team who are able and willing to offer their skills and talent to different aspects of the weekend. We read some controversial opinions about LRG putting on such a big event at the same time as Extreme, but let’s be honest – if Gotham say “we can play you in England this summer if you can find a venue”, you’ll find a venue and make it happen!
    Having one of the most highly anticipated WFTDA games on English soil is great for the UK roller derby scene, and we can’t wait to watch the stream of the game. We’re really lucky to have a large and loyal Extreme following. We were well into our planning when the LRG v Gotham game was announced, and whilst we lost a few advanced skaters, the vast majority remained dedicated to the tournament. Leeds is quite far away if you’re as Southern as we are, so we expect that helped us retain numbers. That and our vegan Oreo cake. 🙂

What are you expecting from Saturday’s tournament? Who are most looking forward to seeing of the visiting sides (Surrey, Croydon B and Rockin’ Rollers B) and how do you think the Bombshells will do?
We’re old friends with Surrey and Croydon B, so it’s always fun to play people you know, then catch up with them over a beer after. We had a steep learning curve after our last Croydon game where I think we averaged about 435 penalties (give or take), so we’re keen to come back fighting when we meet them. LRR B is definitely the unknown quantity of the day. They’re highest placed in the rankings, but as we all know, the rankings rarely accurately portray the difference between teams. As the organiser, I want every game to be a four point game, right down to the last whistle. As the Bombshells’ bench coach however, I want us to win by 200 points every time!

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Moving on to Sunday’s exhibition games, there’s a varied pool of skaters involved of all kinds of abilities, genders and ages. Any particular games that you’re looking forward to? Any players you think the crowd should particularly keep an eye out for?
The rookie women’s game is the first event in the whole of Extreme on Sunday, so we’re expecting to draw quite a non-derby crowd! Rookies are always relentlessly enthusiastic, so that guarantees it will be a great game. The juniors are scrimmaging in public for the first time, and the only thing cuter will be if someone invents roller derby for baby bunnies. The co-ed game is full of international superstars, so that’s the game to watch for the complex strategies. I’m really excited to see The Mechanic of SWS and Team Wales, as I’ve heard “he’s not a tank. He’s THE tank!” We also have a handful of players from France and Belgium, our first international participants, and it will be great to see their style of derby. And on a personal note, I’m excited to bench the advanced women’s game, which will not only be my last bench coaching game, but will unite Swann, Chunder Woman and myself for the last time!

For those coming down to Eastbourne from elsewhere, what other parts of the Extreme weekend, the seafront and the town itself can you recommend?
Extreme is a massive extreme sports fest, with all sorts of awesome sea, land and air action going on. If you can tear yourself away from the roller derby, we recommend checking out our friends at Eastbourne Skating Club, who have a couple of the top five slalom skaters exhibiting. But if you want to get away from the wheeled sports, the kite surfers are where the tricks and stunts will really wow you! But most importantly, you’re on the Sunshine Coast. Get some chips or an ice cream, wander down the pier, paddle in the sea, and avoid having your chips or ice cream stolen by the mutant-sized seagulls!

Finally, what can we expect from the after parties – there seem to be loads – and other social aspects of the weekend. Is the early start on Sunday going to curtail some people’s partying?
I’d like to think that the Bombshells involved in setting up on Sunday morning will curtail their partying, but I expect it’ll be me shouting “just one more” at 2am, so I don’t have high hopes… After the massive success of the Redoubt roller disco last year, we’ll be partying on and off skates in the fort again on Saturday, but this time we’ll be starting the night with an open air live showing of the LRG v Gotham game. We’ll be ending up in our favourite watering hole, Buskers, which promises copious drinks and a slightly sticky floor.
    Sunday will be the big night though. Three Bombshells (myself, All Seeing Ivy and Chunder Woman) will be saying their goodbyes after Sunday’s games, and the tournament will be ending, which means the officials and athletes can stop being official and athletic. Lots of folk are staying in Eastbourne for a long weekend, so we expect to eat too much good food at the Crown and Anchor, then return to Buskers to bring in the sunrise. It’s going to be epic!

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THE PHILOSOFEAR – BOURNE BOMBSHELLS

This will be the Bombshells’ second Extreme as competitors, having hosted but not competed in 2012 and lost the Saturday final last year by a single point. There are also a number of Bombshells (and Bomb S’Quaders and New Bournes) taking part as skaters and bench crew in Sunday’s mixed games. What are your hopes for the weekend?
Saturday’s tournament is going to be tougher for us than last year’s. We are the lowest ranked team of the four, so we are going to have to fight really hard. Having just lost our strongest player Swann (aka Toxic Block Syndrome) to Brighton, we’ve had to rework our line-ups. We’ve also made sure that all of our rookies are playing in at least two games on the Saturday. On the Sunday most of the Bombshells aren’t playing, so we can concentrate on running the day’s proceedings – with all the mixed teams it will take more organisation than a normal tournament does. We’re very much looking forward to the men’s game, so that we can cheer on the Bomb S’Quaders.

How does outdoor derby differ from indoor derby? How have you been preparing for the event – have you had many outdoor training sessions? Do you think experience of the venue/conditions will give you an advantage?
Outdoor derby doesn’t differ very much from indoor derby – the only real differences are the change of wheels, the lack of a rope boundary for the track, and the weather! Last year we found that a lot of the teams played a bit safer at the start of the tournament as they were getting used to playing outside (so we may have had an advantage), but by the end of the day everyone was playing like they would indoors, and so any advantage we had was lost.
    Our outdoor track is very smooth, but despite that there is a risk of losing a bit of skin if you slide along the track, so we advise players to dress sensibly; leggings, rather than hotpants, are wise if players wish to keep all the skin on their thighs. We’ve been practising outdoors to get ready for the tournament, but only for a few weeks. Still, even that gives us some confidence that the other teams won’t necessarily have at the start of the day. Our main concern about outdoor derby is the weather. But don’t worry, it WILL be sunny! One year it was quite windy, so that can have an impact too.

What do you know of your opponents, the Croydon Vice Squad, Surrey Rollergirls and LRR Rising Stars? Have you played many of them before, and how did that go? Any particular players or tactics you’ll be keeping any eye out for?
Surrey are ranked two places above us on flattrackstats.com, and last year we beat them at Extreme by a single point, so we’re expecting that to be a very close game. When I’m jamming – which hopefully won’t be too often! – I’ll be watching out for Evil Badger. She’s worked hard over the last year, and is a great blocker and big hitter. In terms of jammers, I’ll be watching out for Buffy Smothers. She’s very agile and nippy.
    We played against Croydon Vice Squad last August, and they beat us by quite a lot. Since then we’ve improved a great deal, so hopefully we’ll have a much closer game this time around. I remember their offence being very strong, so we’ll have to counter that – Inara Terra and Angel DDelight are both strong players to watch out for. LRR Rising Stars/Badasses are going to be a very tough team to play. We haven’t met them on track before so we’re not quite sure what to expect, but we think it’ll be our toughest game of the day.

Finally, any Bombshells players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the Bombshells fans in the crowd?
Eastbourne Extreme is the last Bombshells game for a few of the team. Chunder Woman is transferring to another league, and our line-up manager All Seeing Ivy and bench coach Sassy McAwesome are leaving us. So Bombshells fans in the crowd will need to try to ignore all the crying as there’ll be a lot of tears, especially on the Sunday night. A newer Bombshell to watch out for is Seoul Destroyer. Her jamming is amazing, and I think that by our August Heartland Series game she’ll be a regular on the jammer rotation.

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FACKELMAN – CROYDON ROLLER DERBY

CRD won the previous two Eastbourne Extreme tournaments. Are you hoping to make it three in a row? It’s your Vice Squad B-team, rather than Riot Squad, taking part this year – do many of them have experience of previous Extremes?
Croydon will be well represented all weekend as we have Vice Squad competing on Saturday and many of our A-team girls will be skating on Sunday. Eastbourne Extreme is a favourite of CRD and we look forward to it all year. The event is always exciting and challenging. Some of our B-team skaters competed in Extreme last year with Riot Squad and are gearing up for this weekend. Agent Cooper bouted with Croydon Roller Derby for the first time at Eastbourne Extreme last year, so when you see her this weekend you can wish her a happy one year boutaversary – talk about baptism by fire!

What is it that CRD like about Extreme weekend that keeps you coming back? How have Vice Squad prepared for this year’s tournament?
I think it’s safe to say that Croydon Roller Derby doesn’t shy away from hard work and Extreme is a great opportunity for us to be pushed to our limits. The sun and heat in previous years have made the long day even more exhausting and these are the conditions where we learn what we’re really made of as a league. This determination has paid off for us in years prior and we believe that Vice Squad has what it takes to stand up to the challenge.
    Vice have been training hard and recently had an epic game against Belfast’s B-team, where we had a chance to try some of our new tactics and see where we need work. Most recently our A- and B-teams have been working together to develop, as both teams have big games on the horizon! We’re very lucky to have the Riot Squad’s experience to draw from in our training and I think it will show this weekend.

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Surrey and LRR Rising Stars? Have you played them before, and how did it go?
Vice Squad’s first ever game was against the Bombshells last August. We have a lot of love for those ladies and a whole lot of respect. They’re going to be tough competition and we expect that both teams will have developed a lot in the past year. We haven’t yet had the chance to play Surrey or LRR previously, but we know that we will not be let off easy, and we’re looking forward to playing some really tough teams on Saturday.

Finally, any CRD players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? Any message for the Croydon fans in the crowd?
One of the many amazing characteristics of Vice Squad is that we do not have any particular skaters that you need to look out for on the track. You’ll find some incredible teamwork and standouts will vary from jam to jam. It would be a mistake to focus too much on any one skater because her teammates will exploit the opportunity to surprise you!
    There is so much excitement and derby love in the CRD camp this week and we thank our fans and gracious hosts for the opportunity to play our shapely derby bums off this weekend!

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DEMOLITION DARCY – LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS

This will be the London Rockin’ Rollers’ first appearance at Eastbourne Extreme. What do you know about the tournament?
We know it’s Extreme! A few of us have been to the tournament to watch before. It’s a great way to showcase the sport of roller derby to an audience who might not know anything about it, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.

Do the Rockin’ Rollers get much opportunity to skate outdoors? Have the Rising Stars done any special preparation for Extreme?
You might have seen us in London’s Pride parade at the end of June where we scrimmaged on Oxford Circus and down Bond Street, in running water! In fact, if you listen closely you might hear some squeaking, as some of our skates are still a bit rusty…

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Croydon Vice Squad and Surrey Rollergirls?
We played Croydon’s Riot Squad [A-team] over a year ago when our current B-team was in its first bouting season. Let’s just say it was a learning experience! There might be some familiar faces in the Vice Squad, but essentially we’re looking forward to playing three completely new opponents this weekend.

Finally, do you have any tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the Rockin’ Rollers fans in the crowd at Eastbourne?
Yes. In honour of it being an outdoor tournament, all of our tactics are temporarily named after types of fruit you might find in a Pimms. And for our fans in the crowd, you know the chant: “LRR LRR LRR…!”

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EVIL BADGER – SURREY ROLLERGIRLS

This will be SRG’s second appearance at Eastbourne Extreme. How did you find it last year, and what are your hopes for 2014?
Last year’s tournament was certainly an experience! Nothing like three derby matches in the sweltering heat to challenge you as skaters. We had melted wheels, skater numbers ‘tanned’ on to people’s arms and gravel graze, but above all we had great fun. This year we’re hoping to win (of course we’d say that), but more than that, to gain experience facing up against teams we’ve not played before – and have fun in the sun!

What is it that you like about Extreme weekend? Do you get much opportunity to skate outdoors elsewhere? How does it differ from playing derby indoors, and how have you prepared for this year’s tournament?
Extreme is a brilliant free event, and spreads the derby PR far and wide! We have much respect for the Bourne Bombshells for putting it on for the third year in a row (and for inviting us back for a second). In terms of outdoor skating, Crazy Cat Lady is the outdoor queen. She’s always rounding us up to go for an outdoor skate and we’re lucky to have some pretty great areas around us to go practice. Brooklands have an old go-kart track (complete with road markings and signs) which is perfect for skating, with lovely smooth tarmac and ramps if you’re feeling brave.
    Derby outdoors is definitely different, being aware that if you do fall you’re not going to get the ‘slide’ that you usually do indoors, and thus have a far greater risk of gravel rash. It also involves changing your skating style up a bit; plough stops tend to be a lot tougher, so derby stops and hockey honey shuffle win out on the day. The heat and sun definitely adds an element of difficulty as well. Last year most of us bouted in sunglasses!

What do you know of your opponents, the Bombshells, Croydon Vice Squad and Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars?
Of our opponents this year, we’ve only met the Bombshells on the track before. That was at last year’s Extreme, and it was a pretty nail-biting match with the Bombshells taking it by one point in the final jam. We’ve never met Croydon or LRR on track before, though we’re familiar with Croydon’s skaters – Lady Painelope was one of the original Surrey Rollergirls. We’re not taking any of the teams lightly, as I feel all will prove a challenge, but we’ll give it our best and enjoy ourselves doing so.

Finally, any Surrey players or tactics people attending Extreme should keep an eye out for? And any message for the SRG fans in the crowd?
I think Surrey have formed into a well-rounded group of skaters, all with different strengths that work together well. We’re challenging everyone to jam at the moment, so you may see a relatively fluid jammer line-up at Extreme throughout the three bouts. We’ve also had a bit of a line-up change since last year’s Extreme, with a lot of newer skaters coming out of our Fresh Meat programme last autumn. Watch out for Ada Shovelace, Bake ‘n’ Destroy, Impaler Swift and Luna Tonic especially. For fans of Surrey, cheer loud and we’ll bring the tea and scones… and I promise not to eat them all!

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/EastbourneExtremeRollerDerby
GOOGLE MAP: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.7776598,0.3052472,17z
EASTBOURNE EXTREME: http://www.visiteastbourne.com/extreme/
BOURNE BOMBSHELLS: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
CROYDON ROLLER DERBY: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/
LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: http://londonrockinrollers.co.uk/
SURREY ROLLERGIRLS: http://www.surreyrollergirls.com/

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