[Today we have a guest entry from B. David Zarley, who’s going to fill us in on some of his favorite uniforms in the rapidly expanding world of roller derby.]
By B. David Zarley
This exceedingly superficial rundown will focus on the all-star uniforms for the top three D1 teams operating under the aegis of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, as well as a few of my personal favorites.
A few notes: Every team has a light uni and a dark uni; the skaters with the stars on their helmets are known as jammers, and they are the only ones capable of scoring points; the striped helmets are worn by the pivots, who are the only skaters who can be passed the star. Each skater has her own derby name, so I’ve included my favorite name for each team.
Okay, here we go:
• Gotham Girls Roller Derby: The indomitable Gotham Girls are the three-time defending champs of the flat track, and their simple black/white/red color scheme assures that the focus is on the skaters. Gotham’s dark uniforms are predominantly black, while the team’s light look trades out the onyx for a strong red. A notable uni quirk: Jammer Bonnie Thunders, a former synchronized figure skater, wears a small lightening bolt on her right hip.
Best derby name: Derby names are about the only aspect of the sport that the Gotham Girls don’t dominate, with Puss n’ Glutes being about the best of the bunch. (Photos by Sean Hale)
Best derby name: On a team with numerous strong contenders, best name on Texas has to go to jammer Olivia Shootin’ John. (Photos by Danforth Johnson)
• B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls: Based in Oakland, the Golden Girls may be the most aesthetically pleasing team on the track. Resplendent in black and gold, their dark uniforms have three stars across the chest framed by gold lettering, while the light uni changes the tops to white. Topping both iterations is a shimmering golden helmet. Bay Area pivot Demanda Riot adds ghostly face paint and black bars to the proceedings for a touch of menace.
Best derby name: Best name goes to belle RIGHT hooks, for her combination of the esoteric and literary with the obvious and pugnacious. (Dark and Demanda photos by Danforth Johnson)
• Windy City Rollers: Chicago’s team lifts its colors and design motif from the city flag — all-white for light uni and silver and black for the dark. As you can see in those photos, this team’s necklines have a bit more plunge than most, and their jammer’s star is six-pointed — another reference to the Chicago flag.
Best derby name: Can’t go wrong with Jackie Daniels. (Photos by Gil Leora and Danforth Johnson)
• Philly Roller Girls: The Liberty Belles share a similar color scheme with Windy City. The most notable aspect of their look is that they skate in skirts, which, when combined with the high-belting effect of their blue stripes, gives their uniforms a unique, quasi-vintage dress look.
Best derby name: The delightfully vulgar Heavy Flo. (Photo by Danforth Johnson)
• Montreal Roller Derby: Montreal’s New Skids on the Block are instantly recognizable in their incandescent greens. The light top is a screaming neon, and the dark is black with electric accents. Pink zebra-striped tights complete the look, which is either avant grade punk and an embrace of Montreal’s inherent hepness or an attempt to get rods and cones to careen into one another (just like the derby action on the oval!).
Best derby name: The brazen Mange Moi El Cul, which loosely translates to “eat my ass.” (Photos by Sean Murphy)
• London Rollergirls: London Brawling’s black and pink look revolves around a prodigious Union Jack. The black-on-black version is the more appealing of the two, as the Jack really seems to pop when they go dark.
Best derby name: Hell Vetica Black, the type wonk’s preferred skater. (Dark photo by Danfroth Johnson, pink by Cat Meaney)
This is an almost criminally incomplete assessment of roller derby’s aesthetic charms — there are over 200 other all-star teams not even touched upon here, and that’s not counting the individual leagues’ house teams. If you’re curious to learn more, check out the local league in your area.
Paul here — thanks for that rundown, David. I remember when NYC’s Gotham Girls team wore T-shirts with DIY graphics, so it’s interesting to see that some of the teams have Nike or Adidas logo creep. Really shows how far roller derby has come.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column features the results of our “Redesign the Cavs!” challenge. Enjoy.
’Skins Watch: A music festival has told bands not to wear Native American headdresses onstage. … A “Caucasians” T-shirt, which mocks the Cleveland Indians, has become a big seller on Indian reservations in Canada (thanks, Phil). … Probable presidential candidate Hilary Clinton thinks the ’Skins should change their name. … Some Indian tribes have declined to accept “bribe money” from Dan Snyder’s foundation, but a tribe in Montana has gladly accepted Snyder’s money to build a new playground. … The ’Skins would like you to believe that there’s a grass-roots campaign to support the team’s name, but some good investigative work by Slate has revealed that it’s actually an Astroturfing campaign by a corporate cirisis-management firm. In any case, the National Congress of American Indians says the pro-’Skins site has omitted a bunch of inconvenient facts.
Baseball News: The Tigers will wear “Tigres” jerseys tomorrow, as part of the team’s annual salute to the contributions of Latino ballplayers. … The Royals and Indians will wear 1974 throwbacks on Aug. 30. One major inaccuracy there: The Indians never paired the red top with gray pants (thanks, Phil). … Wait, check that — Joshua Lombay just sent me a photo of Gaylord Perry wearing red over gray in the 1974 All-Star Game. So there’s some precedent for that look after all. … Here’s a fun 1950s cartoon with some humorous uni-related suggestions for the national pastime (big thanks to Bruce Menard). … Todd Radom found this very odd photo of former Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan — what happened to his pinstripes? Baseball Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber showed the photo to Reds Museum curator Chris Eckes, who had this to say: “We have handled a number of jerseys that feature a different material on the sides of the jersey. … [The side panel] is made of a different material from the balance of the jersey. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it’s a stretchable material that I always assumed was there to give the jersey a bit more flexibility at what could be points of stress when swinging or throwing.” Todd then pointed out that Chris’s 1956 date made sense given what the Reds were up to that year. … On Wednesday Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose said longtime beat writer Marty Noble had told him a story, as follows: Noble said Tom Seaver and Lou Brock had been reminiscing at the recent Hall of Fame inductions at Cooperstown, and they had specifically discussed a game in which Seaver had hit Brock in the earflap with a pitch — and it happened to be the first game Brock had ever worn an earflap. This all sounded fishy to me, because I couldn’t recall Brock ever wearing a flap — I thought he had always gone flapless. But then I did some photo research and found this. Never seen Brock with a flap before! … Twins prospect Kennys Vargas has a tattoo of the MLB logo combined with the Puerto Rican flag (thanks, Phil). … The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will wear pink uniforms this weekend (thanks, Phil). … Yesterady’s trade that moved Yoenis Céspedes from Oakland to Boston creates a bit of a promotional problem for the A’s (thanks, Brinke). … Keith Olbermann wore the El Paso Chihuahuas’ “Bark in the Park” jersey on the air two nights ago (Phil again). … Rocker Jack White wore a Detroit Stars Negro Leagues jersey when throwing out the first pitch for the Tigers the other night. … If you wear a jersey, remember to wear a blank shirt underneath it (from Matt Larsen). … No photo, but Josh Harrison of the Pirates was apparently wearing the wrong cap last night (thanks, Phil). … Speaking of the Pirates, here’s something I hadn’t been aware of: Tony Peña wore Stargell Stars on the brim of his catching helmet (from Jerry Wolper). … The New Girl was shopping at Trader Joe’s and picked up this bag of high-end Cracker Jack. Super-delicious, and fun packaging, right down to the home plate-shaped UPC code.
NFL News: There’s an upcoming documentary on the four black players who broke the pro football color barrier. Judging by the trailer, it will have some excellent uniforms. … The NFL is putting electronic trackers in players’ shoulder pads to come up with new statistical metrics. … The Bucs’ new pants, with their truncated stripes, look brutal (from Phil). … As you know, the Vikings’ uni numbers have those asinine serifs for numerals in the tens column but not in the ones column. So players with single-digit numbers don’t have the serifs — except for the team’s mascot (good observation by Joshua, who didn’t give his last name).
College Football News: Good article on Georgia Tech’s 2014 uniforms. … New matte black helmet for Northern Illinois (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: Here’s a look at Louisville’s Opening Night helmets. … New tailoring template — but basically the same jersey design — for Ohio State (from Ryan Robey). … New alternate uniform for Air Force.
Basketball News: What took them so long: The NBA is adding its Twitter handle the game ball. … Pitt will be playing some exhibition games this month in the Bahamas. Here are the home and road unis they’ll be wearing (from Chris Weber). … New uniforms for VCU.
Grab Bag: Some friends and I recently played a round of late-night badminton with an LED-equipped shuttlecock, as you can just barely see in this crummy video that I shot. … Here’s an infographic listing the four occasions in Gaelic football history when a team has worn three different jerseys in the course of one season (from Graham Clayton). … “Got an email from Pitt with this logo in the signature,” says Sebastian Smelko. “Never saw it previously.” … This is pretty awesome: a look at the origins of common UI symbols. Highly recommended (big thanks, Brinke). … Here’s a soda display based on the U. of Illinois logo (thanks, Brinke).