Recap of WFTDA Division 1 Tournament: Asheville Edition

 

We even found time to have some fun! Photo by Bill Rhodes for WFTDA

 

Recap of WFTDA Division 1 Tournament: Asheville Edition

As many people know, The Blue Ridge Rollergirls recently hosted a Division 1 WFTDA tournament in Asheville. Ten teams from across the nation arrived in our mountain town and played an action-packed weekend of elite-level roller derby, and our league had the opportunity to experience the behind-the-scenes action while watching some of the best teams in the world battle it out on the track. While there are so many things I could write about or mention in this blog, I’m going to do my best to narrow it down to a few observations that I made throughout the tournament. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

 

1. The Blue Ridge Rollergirls love Asheville, and this love is contagious. I heard one of the Gotham (NY) skaters say the following to one of our league members after asking about where to get some food: “Wow. You all love the town you live in. That is so awesome!” People were asking Blue Ridge a lot of questions about Asheville, and every answer I heard was contagiously enthusiastic. People could feel that we are proud of Asheville, and that enthusiasm permeated the venue.

 

2. There are some amazing derby teams who will not be going to Champs. That’s just how it is. The teams who played in our tournament were all good. Really good. It just boiled down to what team played the best in that particular moment.  Sometimes, it was a matter of one or two penalties. Sometimes, it was a matter of one or two really exciting jams. A couple of the losses were particularly heartbreaking, but all of the teams fought hard and played until the final whistle.

 

3. Derby photographers are the bridge between the players and the fans. We all know that derby photographers have the ability to get fantastic shots of women on the move. However, this weekend I noticed that many of them also get great shots of people in the crowd. After the tournament, I saw so many perfect photographs of derby fans. The photographers were really able to capture the emotional, high-energy moments that the sport inspires, both on and off the track. I don’t know how the photographers do this, except that they might be magical unicorns that arrive at venues through invisible clouds of glitter and double rainbows.

 

4. Derby folks (players and fans) are nice people. Derby is known for being a rough sport played by badass women who are athletic and tough. The fans are often rowdy and excitable. However, for the most part, derby people are also really sweet and down-to-earth. For instance, I almost had a walking collision with Death By Chocolate in one of the hallways. She gave me the most genuine smile and apologized profusely. Another example: one derby fan started helping me tear down the track after the award ceremony. He was not from Blue Ridge, and he could have just packed his stuff and gone home. Instead, he took the time to help me out. So nice!

 

4.5. There are secret rooms in the U.S. Cellular Center where one can take a quick nap when needed. That’s all I’m saying about that.

 

5. Hosting a tournament is hard work, but it’s totally worth it. Many of the Blue Ridge skaters and volunteers arrived at the venue each day at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t leave until long after the final whistle of the day. We sold merch, swept the track, organized gift baskets, hid behind tables to shoot confetti into the weary crowd, and wished for IV lines filled with coffee and Red Bull. Despite the time and energy this required, we all learned so much and came together as a team to make it happen. We are thankful to everyone who helped us out, and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it all!

 

The Blue Ridge Rollergirls will see you at the U.S. Cellular Center on October 12 for the next home bout!

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