(photo by Bill Rhodes)
No one was really sure how the new site was going to work out. The nay-sayers chimed in all winter with online comments like "you can't leave the [Asheville] Civic Center," "downtown is where you have to be," "every derby team in the country would kill to play in the Civic Center," and even worse ones that do not bear repeating. The team has been doing its best to get the word out about the positives of the move — free parking, tailgating before and after the bouts, more control over the entire venue — and it appears that worked.
As the fans lined up and streamed in today, it was clear the hard work behind the scenes all winter was going to pay off. Were there glitches? Sure, of course. Can they be corrected? Yes, of course. Sound, using the installed equipment was an issue — as it was for a while in the Civic Center — and a plan is already in place to correct it, based on what is needed for roller derby and learned from years in the downtown facility (now named the U.S. Cellular Center). Other issues were not as obvious to the fans but will be corrected before the next bout.
The first bout featured the French Broads against the Appalachian Roller Girls from Boone. Just like other leagues around the area, there is a fair amount of crossover in these two teams. There are players who came from ARG to BRRG and vice versa. Most of them are friends. ARG is having a tremendous season so far, especially for as young as the league is. The French Broads had a tough first half and in spite of a big come-back in the second half, and a nail-biting finish, but still fell 3 points short in a 122-119 loss.
The second bout was the BRRG All Stars against the Carolina Hurticanes. The latter is a constantly-shifting amalgam of players from teams all over North and South Carolina, usually dependent on who is playing elsewhere that weekend. Like Forrest Gump's 'Box of Chocolates.' you never know what you are going to get with them. The Hurticanes came this time with some really strong players, notably Elektra Q-Tion from the Carolina Rollergirls, TruckStop from the rarely-defeated Columbia, S.C., Quad-Squad, Chucktown Bruiser also of CQS,and, from well, Charleston, SC, and PunkBlocker from the South Carolina Coast. Some other ringers could not make it, and the ones who made the trek to the mountains were jokingly calling their team the "suicide squad" without them.
The result? 174-89 in favor of Blue Ridge. But even though the score appears lopsided, the Hurticanes gave as good as they got. Some suicides are poison pills, and I am sure there are some bruises and bumps being nursed all over Asheville today from this one. The victory was bittersweet for many fans and skaters. This was the last bout as a BRRG for Sugar Magmaulya. She has been an MVP many times and a critical 'big-play' maker throughout the history of BRRG and in spite of putting the best face on it, will be missed. She is moving to Nashville, and we wish her all the best.
Next home bout is May 26 with a double header against Atlanta and another sister league, Little City Roller Girls of Johnson City, Tenn. If you see one bout this spring, this might be the one.
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