The 5C Roller Derby Team (5CRD) took home a hard-earned win against the University of Arizona Derby Cats on Saturday, October 16th.
The bout took place at the Pitzer basketball court and was attended by a large crowd. 5CRD jumped out to an early lead in the first jam with Caitlin ‘Skatelin’ Halligan PZ ‘22, their MVP jammer, squeezing her way through the pack to put 5CRD on the board. The jammer is the person who scores points.
“Partially the ball and partially the quarterback,” described Mara ‘Marsinery’ Downing HM ‘20.
The scoring was high and the teams battled for every point, but 5CRD took the lead and eventually commanded the match, winning by a comfortable score of 164-103.
Toni Anderson SC ‘22, known by her derby name ‘Sweet Tea,’ said that the win came as a bit of vindication for 5CRD, who lost to the Derby Cats by almost 100 points when the two teams met last spring.
“Last year we got absolutely pummeled … it was so much fun this semester to come back and really work together as a team,” she said.
Sweet Tea attributes a lot of the enhanced teamwork to their new coach Marie ‘Lucyfer’ Rolla, a former player for Angel City Roller Derby. Lucyfer helped the team work cohesively and organize into groups of winners, elaborated Sweet Tea. “Here [at Pitzer] we had lots of team members, we had our training, and I’m really proud of everyone.”
5CRD has grown in the past year not only in following but also in players, from around five or six core members to a bigger group, 11 players on Saturday, excited to show up and play, said Sweet Tea. It is rare that first years, ‘freshmeat’ as they are called in the roller derby community, are called to participate in bouts this early in the season because they need to prove their skating ability first. However, Maya Levine PZ ‘23 (aka Pariah), participated in the bout and held her own against the older and more experienced players.
“She took some hard hits and I’m so proud of her,” smiled Sweet Tea.
In beating the Derby Cats, despite the fun of “giving them a taste of their own medicine,” the jammer insisted there was no strong sense of revenge within the team. “That’s not the kind of team we are,” she said. Sweet Tea admitted, “Yes, derby is a violent sport … but like we were just excited to play them … it’s just such a nice group of people- and then we just go hit people all the time.”
Even sweeter for Sweet Tea and the rest of 5CRD was the fact that the win took place in front of a big crowd at the Pitzer roller derby track. The crowd was loud and involved, cheering every time 5CRD’s jammers got through the pack and scored points.
“It’s so much more fun to play when you have a crowd because… jamming is exhausting and it’s hard and people are beating you up for like a solid hour, I love it, but when you break through the pack and you just hear that cheer and everyone is like ‘yeah Sweet Tea!’ it’s just the most energizing feeling.”
Though some in the crowd had to be taught the rules of derby, Sweet Tea could see why her sport attracts such a big audience.
“Derby itself, there’s just so much appeal to it. Like you’ve got the derby names, you’ve got the fishnets, you’ve got the violence.”
Crowd member, Ngaya Swai PZ ‘23 recounted some violence from the bout.
“There was this big guy [on the Derby Cats] …he basically body checked the other players and would often send them flying, which is a part of the game, but just didn’t sit right with the audience.”
According to Swai, the entire crowd got increasingly agitated until people began heckling the opponent.
“Eventually he got called for a penalty and people cheered as he skated in front of us. He yelled ‘Know the fucking rules,’ someone yelled back ‘know your fucking place,’ he yelled back ‘know yours’ and proceeded to pout in the penalty box.”
5CRD chose not to comment on the matter, emphasizing the kindness and sportsmanship of the majority of Derby Cat team members.
Their popularity has been growing but 5CRD is always looking to expand; they recruit players whenever possible with no prior skating experience or equipment necessary. To gain the equipment they need and hopefully to raise money for track improvements at Harvey Mudd, the team asks fans at their bouts to donate over Venmo.
Find 5CRD on instagram @5crollerderby for updates.
Jack Friedman ‘23 is from New York City and desperately misses bagels. The cream cheese, the everything seasoning… He also is often distracted by food and gets lost in his own thoughts. He is very undecided but planning on being a Political Science major.