At roller derby, boxers lose

Albany team punched early on, but skated late to tighten score

JON WINSLOW Special to the Times Union
Section: Sports,  Page: C12

Date: Sunday, March 30, 2008

ALBANY - They're called the Empire Skate Troopers - but boxers, punchers, jersey-pullers and ultimately well-penalized women on wheels are better terms for the Albany All Stars Roller Derby team that took a thumping for two periods from the Suburban Brawl of Westchester County Saturday night at Washington Avenue Armory.

The Troopers skated better in the third period, winning three straight jams and tightening the game, but two periods of penalties were too much to overcome as Albany fell, 121-96, before about 1,800 curious onlookers. "We had trouble" at the start, said the Troopers' Michelle Darcy, aka Amazon Grace. "The Brawl pushed the pace of the pack early on. They really took it to us. They made us chase them. We broke down and were skating hard just to keep up."

During the bout's first two periods, Albany skaters spent a lot of time in the penalty box. Sometimes as many as three Troopers were found guilty of using their hands more than their feet and they all sat boxed together.

There, they watched the Brawl send its jammer whirring around the track, speeding by Troopers and quickly racking up points.

"The Brawl pushed the pace of the pack early on," said Darcy. "They really took it to us. They made us chase them. We broke down and were skating hard just to keep up."

In the first two periods, the Brawl used a solid wall to block their foes, giving their jammer chances to score. Albany skaters had to attack the wall one at a time, not in force. So, they took to fouling to even things out.

Halfway through the final period, the Brawl, with more than 100 points, had nearly doubled Albany's output.

That's when Albany turned things around. "Finally, in the last period, we began to just skate right," Darcy said. "I think we threw caution to the wind. We need to do that. We need to just have more fun."

"Toward the end of the bout, I told my rotation to start skating with emotion," said Tracy Willcox, aka Aurora Gory Alice. "I said, `If you have a personal goal, now is the time achieve it. If you want to knock some girl into the stands, do it now.'

"We sometimes get too caught up in skating instead of playing derby. My personal goal was to be Aurora Gory Alice tonight. To skate like Aurora Gory Alice would. That means passion, hitting and laying people out. It took a while before everyone got the same attitude.

"If we can skate like derby girls for the entire bout, next time, we're going to score some points," Willcox said. "We are going to win."

Jon Winslow, a freelance writer and photographer, covered the Albany All Stars Roller Derby League for the past six days. To read the stories and view photos, visit