ECE Preview: #1 Gotham vs #9 Windy City
Four bouts between The Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars and the Windy City Rollers All-Stars.
Four wins for Gotham.
Yet as the fifth meeting between the teams Derby News Network ranks #1 (Gotham) and #9 (Windy City) approaches this Friday evening at the East Coast Derby Extravaganza in Philadelphia, Gotham isn’t counting on a cakewalk. Instead, team captain Bonnie Thunders recalls a valuable lesson taught to her team in Raleigh, North Carolina last September.
“You have to keep perspective,” she said. “We had a really good example of how that happened when Philly beat us at Easterns last year. We always expect a tough fight from Philly, but we really had dominated them pretty intensely for most of the games that we played in the past, and it was kind of a surprise that we lost to them. So I think that’s always a good reference point to keep going back to, to remember that anything can happen at any time.”
Before Gotham lost to Philadelphia 90-89 in the 2009 Eastern Regional Championship, they had won 18 consecutive bouts, including a 2008 victory over Windy City that netted them a National Championship. As Thunders admits, “at times it’s hard to keep perspective when you just keep winning and winning.”
At the same time, Windy City was looking for the magic formula to climb over the Gotham hurdle. The Midwest standouts dropped bouts to the New Yorkers at the first East Coast Extravaganza in 2007, in the East Regional finals in 2007 and 2008, and then in the WFTDA Nationals. Ask Windy City co-captain Beth Amphetamine the first thing that pops into her head when the name “Gotham Girls Roller Derby” comes up, and she laughs.
“The first thing that comes to mind for me would be a growl,” she said. “They always beat us. We’ve played them four times in big games, and they’ve won every time. But we always look forward to playing them because we really, really want to win the game.”
And if she and her cohorts have their way, this Friday will be the night that they get it done, and make a statement to the rest of the WFTDA that this is their year. And this year, for the first time, the Gotham/Windy rivalry will be commemorated with the Skyline Cup, a new perpetual trophy jointly commissioned specifically this year by both teams to reward the winner of this big-city rivalry.
“There are a few leagues around the country that have been consistently in the national tournament for the last few years – us, Gotham, Texas, Seattle – and I think all of us share a friendly rivalry with each other,” said Beth. “Gotham has been able to be on top for quite some time, and I’m sure they’ll remain a really competitive team into the future, but we think that we have been as well, and none of the games [against them] have been huge blowouts as far as I can remember. So going into this game we have a lot more confidence, and we have a lot of new players who don’t have that sense of history, which is probably a good thing in this case (Laughs). But we want to maintain Windy City’s reputation as a top contender, regardless of who we’re playing, and we want to make sure we’re respected around the country as a formidable opponent.”