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Devil's Club wins Alaska's first ever co-ed vs. co-ed derby bout


Mandy Kivisto / Altered Perceptions Studio

Devil's Club blocker "Baby Cakes" clashes with "MiniFridge," the jammer for Fairbanks' Frozen Chosen, in Alaska's first ever co-ed vs. co-ed derby bout.

Petersburg hosted and won the state's first co-ed vs. co-ed roller derby bout Saturday night, and "oh my gosh, it was so great," Devil's Club Co-Captain Rebecca Anderson said of the experience.

The Southeast team, comprised of Petersburg and Wrangell skaters, defeated Fairbanks' Frozen Chosen 182-165 in the Petersburg High School gym.

Devil's Co-Captain Shawna Buness, of Wrangell, said the co-ed bout "was really exciting for how new derby is in Southeast." The men who normally referee the game got to actually play in it.

Anderson, of Petersburg, said the Petersburg Ragnarök Rollers (PRR) and Wrangell Garnet Grit Betties joined forces to create the co-ed team just so they could play Frozen Chosen. The team hopes to help eliminate the notion that derby is just a female sport.

"I loved it," said Frozen Chosen Coach Zack "NoMad" Sherman, even with the loss. "But I'm kind of an addict."

Sherman developed the first co-ed derby team in the state and was excited for the chance to play another co-ed squad.

Every bout, he added, presents a chance to get better. And derby, it's a big community.

"We're not going out to kill," he said. "We have a lot of fun."

Devil's Club Co-ed Derby (DCCD) was formed within about a month, Anderson noted, with its three male members getting very little contact practice beforehand. The team hadn't even practiced together before Saturday's bout.

"We didn't expect to do as well as we did," she said. "We kind of just went in there with the mentality of 'we're going to go in there and have fun and do the best we can and just enjoy this experience of the first co-ed, co-ed game.'"

But after the first 15 minutes or so, she added, they realized they had a shot of winning.

There was a shift from "let's just have fun" to "we could win."

Anderson said containing Frozen Chosen's jammers, the position that works to get past blockers to score points in a bout, and keeping play clean was key.

She was really impressed with Charles "4Chuck'sAche" Ross, of Wrangell, who's fairly new to the world of derby. During the final jam, a two-minute round where each team attempts to score and block opposing jammers, Ross "racked up points."

After the bout, Anderson noted many of the players talked about how fun co-ed was.

"It beat our expectations in every way," she said.

PRR fell short after a hard fought battle during the second and final bout of the evening against Wrangell's Betties, losing 120-230.

Anderson said a part of it might've just been exhaustion. She and five other skaters played in both bouts.

There were also "jammer heavy penalties that held us back."

But everyone at practice on Sunday felt good about the bout, she added, like they were "fully capable of competing with them (Wrangell)."

It was a boost in confidence to the women who've only been competing since January 2014.

Mandy Kivisto / Altered Perceptions Studio

The co-ed teams, referees, NSOs, and other volunteers posed for a photo after Saturday's history-making co-ed bout.

Angela "Dark Flow Rider" Denning received the jammer MVP for PRR.

"It was her best game ever," Anderson said. "She's been working really hard, so it was nice to see the pay off."

Rachel "aRachNophobia" Newport, who never seemed tired, Anderson added, received MVP blocker.

"Maybe she did get tired but it didn't show," she said. "I was impressed by that."

Up next for some of the team members is a scrimmage in Ketchikan followed by the state tournament the weekend of the Little Norway Festival.

Anderson said not everyone can afford the trip, so a few of the girls will be joining a mash-up team, the Southeast Sirens, for the tournament.

Then, for PPR, it's getting back to the basics to see what works and what doesn't to continue improving.


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