Western New York's Official Women's Flat Track Roller Derby

Alley Kats Win 2017 QCRG Champs

Alley Kats Win 2017 QCRG Champs

The 2017 QCRG Cup Championship win by the Alley Kats over the Devil Dollies was a culmination of nine years of hard work. They came oh-so-close twice before: a two-point loss to the Suicidal Saucies in 2010 and a one-point loss to the Dollies last June. It was that last heartbreaking loss that drove them to win the teams’ first ever QCRG Championship.

The June 2nd game was a close one with the teams trading lead throughout the first period and into the second. It was about mid-way through the second period when the Kats began to pull away and extend their lead until the final jam when they solidified their win. Final score was 165-131 and the Kats joyously celebrated their first QCRG Cup win.

The Kats team was formed in 2008 and had the reputation of being scrappy and determined from the very beginning. It was a year when there were so many available draftees, they made up an entire new team. Right from the start they felt they had something to prove.

Photo by Jim Bush

Photo by Jim Bush

They came in last place their first year, but the next year they roared back and came within 2 points of winning the Cup, falling to the Saucies in the last jam. But they proved within one season that they were a team on par with all of the others.

Similar to this season, the Kats came back in 2011 intent on winning back those points and then some. They beat the Saucies soundly in the first game 131-109 but fell to the Dollies in playoffs with an 11 point loss.

The 2012 season started a rough patch for the Kats. They lost many skaters to injuries or retirement, including their captain and coach, and they headed into a drought and were winless in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in intraleague play.

Evil-Lyn Cognito has been on the Kats since 2009 and knows the joys of winning and how tough it is to slog through the losing years. “My first season I barely knew any rules and didn’t realize that any success I had was due to my killer blockers.”

It was in 2014, when ShockHer started coaching the team that there began to be a turnaround. “It really started with his presence,” said Evil-Lynn. “I think it was his belief that we could be a championship team. He didn’t sugar-coat how hard it would be; that it could take a few years.”

Photo by Jim Bush

Photo by Jim Bush

The story of the Kats is certainly a Cinderella story. They were at the bottom for three years and through hard work and focus they worked their way to the top. But the losing years earned them many die-hard fans including QCRG’s Head NSO Bobkat.

The first bout he ever attended was March 9, 2013 between the Kats and the Saucies. The Saucies won big: 246-129. Many first time fans might have gotten turned off by the one-sided game but Bobkat saw the determination and the fact that the “Kats never got down or lost their smiles. It was absolutely inspiring to me.”

It was inspiring to ShockHer too.

“My first objective for the team was to change the culture of the team. Those skaters that were left before the [2014] draft had experienced nothing but losing time after time,” said ShockHer. “The first draft left me with 12 skaters from Queens Court who had no experience playing derby. We set a goal that we would win the Championship in our 4th season.

“I told them that change does not happen overnight. I set a goal for myself to have them believing in themselves: to believe that they can and would eventually win.

“That session was nothing but learning the game and being a team; scores and the win/loss record meant nothing. In the second season my goal was to have them become competitive.

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

They saw that trust in each other and began to believe in themselves; that the hard work was beginning to pay off.

“The third season had a huge challenge because of the league-wide home team scramble. My first objective was to get the team together as Alley Kats so they didn’t feel like a mixed team. By our first game the entire team was working towards our goal, as Alley Kats. That season my goal was to show them how to win,” said ShockHer.

The first game of the 2016 season was the Kats’ first win in over three years. They beat the Dollies 164-161.

“They knew at this point that they could win, and the Championship was no longer just a dream. We came up a point short in the 2016 Championship game, but we were a season early in our 4 year plan so we were ok. No Kat felt defeated after that, just more determined.

“At the start of this season we drafted skaters that matched our skills, we had a good draft and the team came together quick. The entire team was working together from the first week.

“The Championship victory was very emotional for all. The victory was awesome, but seeing all of them the moment it was announced is something I will never forget. My hope is to leave them the legacy that teamwork, hard work, and a total belief in themselves will enable them to accomplish any goal they set.”

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee