LOOK OUT PITTSBURGH: ARRG TO TAKE ON DIVISION 2, AND WHY WE’RE EXCITED

We asked ARRG’s Temple of Doom to tells us all about the up and coming trip to D2 playoffs. Here’s what she said…

In only three short weeks from now, ARRG’s All-Stars will be packing their bags, heading over the pond and braving Trump’s America: all to compete as the number one seed in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) division 2 playoffs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Getting to the WFTDA playoffs has been a long time coming for ARRG. In 2014 we were ranked 72 at the time of playoffs seeding and still had a few spots to climb before we would be eligible.  After working hard in 2015, we were just outside the rankings cut-off for D2, which back then was 60, and we were ranked at 63. In 2016, we qualified!… but due to various factors beyond our control, couldn’t send a team and someone else gratefully took our spot. So here we are in 2017 and not only have we qualified, but this year we’ve steadily climbed the entire D2 bracket and come out at the top! As a team, we draw confidence in the fact that every climb we have made over these last few years represents genuine improvement in our gameplayEvery game, scrim, extra practice, additional work with a guest coach, time spent analysing footage, off-skates session and early morning gym trip has meant that each rankings increase has been hard fought and deserved.  This year we’ve had the privilege of being pushed even harder by a B-Team that’s currently kicking ass in British Champs  and going from strength to strength.

(Photo credit: Marko Niemiela Photography. Marko Niemelä Photography)

Despite being a long time coming, it is also a very good year to be joining the WFTDA play-offs structure. It’s the year that Gotham (NYC) has finally been dethroned of their world number one spot by VRDL after what’s seemed like a lifetime and the first time one of the playoffs locations has been hosted outside of North America (oh hai Malmo!). This year there are more “international” teams represented in the WFTDA playoffs brackets than ever before. I say “international” because, since it’s reboot at the turn of the millennium, roller derby very quickly spread beyond the USA. Yet “international” often still gets applied to non-US teams, even though really it’s just one big playing field (well, derby track) that we’re all playing a part in, whether you’re in the US or not. This year, in division 2 there are teams from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, France, England and USA represented – how cool is that? We are the only Scottish team going to playoffs  this year, and we want to help build up Scottish derby on the roller derby radar. For ARRG, it is great for us to be taking part in what will hopefully be the year we can stop talking about “international” roller derby and just call it roller derby.

Pittsburgh is a long way to go, there’s no doubt about it – getting there will cost us in time, money and our collective carbon footprint. To some extent you could be forgiven for asking, “is it worth it?” But for us, totally, it’s worth it 100%. I’ve already talked about being part of pushing the boundaries of internationalism within the sport. There’s loads for us to gain as a league from mixing up the gene pool: Playing different teams with different behaviours and styles of play is really important for flexibility and depth in our own game. It stops weird rankings enclaves from building up. Put simply, when the same teams play each other locally all the time, this can skew the rankings (which has historically had a negative impact on teams outwith North America), big international tournaments can iron things out. There’s also the small differences in where refs and officials draw the lines of what is or isn’t a penalty which are good to learn from and adapt to. Then there’s the mental focus and endurance that’s needed to play multiple games across a weekend on an unfamiliar floor in a different time zone, which can only help build resilience and strength individually and as a team. Throughout this, we want to learn and assimilate new information so we can take it back to our amazing league and we can all level up.

So, that’s just some of the reasons why we’re excited about heading stateside in a few weeks – and why we hope you’ll be following us and the Division 2 tournament on the 18th - 20th August. We will be adding game times and scores on our our “Division 2 Tournament” page  so be sure to check back to see how we’re doing. Our first game will be on Friday 18th August against Dublin (entering the tourney as 16th seed), who we last took on and won against in 2016.

Then, if we’re able to repeat our previous success against Dublin we’ll be heading on to play No Coast Derby (hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska) or Ohio Roller Derby, and we’ll be charting new territory with either league. And as for the rest, we’ll update you with news as we have it!

Next week in our blog we’ll be bringing you some of the many things we’ve been doing to prep for this tournament so we are at our peak mentally, physically and as a team when we take to the track in Pittsburgh. See you then!

In the mean time….

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