Last year I had the opportunity to shoot the Windy City Rollers All-Star squad shortly before they headed to the Declaration of Derby, the WFTDA National tournament in Philadelphia. And as much as I wanted to make some frames that would make Strazz weep with envy, I didn’t quite manage that. But I’m not one to just give up with one minor setback. They knock you down, you get right back up and try again. (Just so that it is said, I didn’t get knocked down. The girls did; I didn’t.)
When I learned that the Windy City Rollers would be hosts for this year’s WFTDA National tournament, Uproar On The Lakeshore, I applied for photo credentials. And got them! Although not for the entire tournament, I received a full-day press pass for the main day of action, Saturday. It was also the day the Windy City Rollers were guaranteed to compete. Being a single elimination tournament, teams only get one shot at moving on.
So, handy press pass in hand, I headed over to the UIC Pavilion yesterday morning and set about finding my way to the “digital darkroom”. This was serious business, this time around, with dozens of photographers from all over the nation covering the event. Team photographers, press photographers. The Derby News Network streamed all the action live online.
And then there was me jumping around trying not to get run over and trying to make some good shots at the same time. The whole style of the game has changed since last year. Last month, the Chicago Reader published an extensive feature about the advent of “slow derby” and its corresponding challenges to more traditional leagues like the Windy City Rollers. The tournament was a great opportunity to see these new styles in action.
Bout after bout the teams who best incorporated the strategies of the Western style came out on top, so I set as a goal for myself to try and capture some of the technique: the strategy of trading penalties, the massive walls of stopped blockers. And the ensuing frustration that played across more speed-and-power oriented teams.
I covered three bouts and stayed to watch the fourth and final bout of the day while editing what I’d shot:
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls vs. Gotham Girls Roller Derby