Rose City Wheels of Justice dedicate win to their late coach Robin “Rob Lobster” Ludwig
By Matt Pizzuti, PQ Monthly
It was a storybook finish in Minneapolis Nov. 9: Portland’s women’s roller derby team, the Rose City Wheels of Justice, dethroned the 5-time world champion Gotham Girls All-Stars of New York, who had been undefeated for five years. Rose City took home the World Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Championship trophy for the first time.
GGAS NY 2014 team highlights:
To make it to the 2015 championship, New York, and Portland beat out some 260-plus other teams in the massive international roller derby league with teams coming from as far away as London and Sydney. The final match was a rematch of last year’s contest between the reigning Gotham Girls and Rose City. Portland’s team especially determined to win the Hydra Trophy this year after team coach Robin “Rob Lobster” Ludwig passed away from a rare, aggressive brain cancer just three weeks before the match.
The 2014 Gotham Girls and Rose City Match:
“The fact that we lost him 2-3 weeks before champs was a major deal to distract us,” said team member Hillary Buscovick (Derby name “Scald Eagle” who was on the PQ Monthly’s cover on our March 2013 Edition). “We had a short time to process that and then came back with a trophy to honor him, which I’m really proud to say we did.”
The object of a roller derby match is for each team to help their designated point-scoring player, called a jammer, lap opposing players on a skating rink while the other skaters either block the opposing team’s jammer or try to ensure a clear path for their own. Each time the jammer laps an opposing player is worth one point.
The 1-hour match is broken into two-minute intervals called jams, with 30-second breaks between them. Typical game scores can vary dramatically ranging from less than 30 points to well over 200.
The Nov. 9 championship game turned out to be a nail-biter: “There were 11 lead changes; neither one of us had tight control of the game at any point,” Buscovick said. “Gotham pulled farther ahead a few times.”
In fact, the Gotham Girls had extended a 24-point lead during the last 7 minutes of the game, and with 1:20 left on the clock the New York team was still leading 183 to 178. But five seconds later, Buskovick had broken through a pack of blockers and the teams were tied at 183. In the end, Portland’s Wheels of Justice eked out the win with a score of 206 to 195.
“I have to thank my teammates for being awesome teammates. We really banded together to do what needed to be done to come back victorious,” Buskovic said. “Our fans and league mates were super supportive.”
The Wheels of Justice is the top tier of Portland’s all-welcoming women’s roller derby league, the Rose City Rollers, which has more than 500 members and makes room for even the greenest of roller derby beginners. New players can play in the lower league and compete in tryouts to graduate through various, increasingly-competitive levels to reach the tiers that play against national and international opponents.
The 2015 tournament, which aired on ESPN3, can still be viewed on espn.go.com/espn360 under “replay.” Search for WFTDA International Championships to find the video, which contains over 7 hours of footage from the roller derby championship series. The New York/Portland championship game begins 6 hours, 10 minutes into the clip.
Be sure to check out the history of Rose City Roller history: