Addy Rawl didn’t intend to become a roller derby ambassador when she signed up for the Queen City Roller Girls training camp in 2009. Not even when she tried out for Team USA. But in essence, that is what she has become.
She recently arrived home from an eight day trip to Helsinki, Finland and London, England where she and 15 other Team USA skaters, plus coaches, made the trip over the pond to play, teach and spread derby love. Team USA played four games against Team Finland, Team England Team Sweden, and London Brawling, a WFTDA chartered team. They also ran a two day training camp in Helsinki for skaters from Finland, of course, and England, Norway, Sweden and Australia where Addy teamed up with Bonnie Thunders to teach an off skates agility session and with Joy Collision to teach a pack dynamics class.
We want to spread the excitement of roller derby,” said Addy. “We want to help train teams in other countries that are newer to the sport. And we were so thrilled to be able to go to Helsinki to do it.”
On Saturday, September 1, Team USA geared up to play the teams from Sweden and Finland. The outcomes weren’t a surprise: Team USA 419 over Team Sweden 29 and Team USA 639 over Team Finland 6. What also wasn’t surprising was the passion and intensity the teams from Finland and Sweden brought onto the track.
Two days later in England, Team USA took on London Brawling, England’s who will be heading to Essex Junction in Vermont at the end of the September to compete in the WFTDA Eastern Region Playoffs. Final score of that game was 336-73 with Team USA grabbing the win. They also played Team England. The score of that game was similar: 296-70 in favor of USA.
“The scores of those games do not tell the whole story. These teams (Sweden, Finland, and England) have come so far since the World Cup just under a year ago,” said Addy. “The strategy was there, the teamwork was there, and the packs surely were not easy to get through.”
“Team USA’s defense is still so dominating. That is some of the reason behind the final scores, but those scores aren’t indicators for how we felt during the games. Those girls are tough and we were all exhausted when the final whistle blew.”
Team USA began as a single goal: play in and win the World Cup, a tournament which took place in Toronto, Canada in December 2011. Teams from 13 countries including Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, among others, came to play.
One of the unanticipated benefits of Team USA has been the Stars vs. Stripes games. Take the top 32 derby players, divide them into two teams and have them play each other. Can you think of a more exciting match up?
When Addy made the team she was named as an alternate. Originally she didn’t think she would play in a game, but knew that she would learn a tremendous amount through practices and all the derby talk. But then the idea of Stars vs. Stripes came up. Suddenly she went from alternate to rostered player, and has played in every Stars vs. Stripes game as well as making the roster for the Team USA vs. Philly Liberty Belles game at RollerCon and the European tour.
“Being a member of Team USA has been more than I imagined it would be. Initially when I was named as an alternate, I was ecstatic,” said Addy. “But it wasn’t too long before that excitement turned to ‘wait a minute, being an alternate it not good enough!’
“At the time, I had only had two and a half years of derby under my belt, compared to seven or eight years many of the other girls had. I asked myself: Did I really belong there? How could I earn my spot on the roster?
“I put my head down and went to work, and made sure that I was available for every Team USA event. I made a choice to be committed, and it has, hands down, been an experience that will follow me throughout the rest of my life.”
What started as a fundraiser to help offset the expenses of getting everyone to Toronto for the World Cup tournament has become a hot derby ticket. There have been Stars vs. Stripes games at the World Cup and ECDX.
“Stars vs. Stripes games, for me, are both exciting and nerve racking, though mostly exciting,” said Addy. “It is an opportunity to play the highest level of roller derby that is currently available, and I get to play with, and against, some pretty awesome people. It’s a chance to push myself harder and farther than I thought possible, and for me, that is what sports and teamwork is all about.”
Team USA has also run training camps and classes. The first camp was at 2012 ECDX in Philadelphia and this latest one in Helsinki.
So where is Team USA heading next? There are rumors that there will be more international travel and there are sure to be more training camps and most definitely, there will be more games.
Photos by Marko Niemelä.