With just seconds to go and a tied score of 48, the San Francisco Bay Bombers had one shot to keep their championship title.
But for the first time since Jim Fitzpatrick headed the Bombers, the team lost the Professional Banked Track Championship to their rivals, the Brooklyn Red Devils, whose men’s squad scored four points in the final jam of the game.
“I’m proud of what they did,” Fitzpatrick said after the game. “We were so short of people and some players were really banged up this season.”
With skaters coming in from all over the U.S., transportation issues left the Bombers and the Red Devils short of players, particularly on the women’s squads. Up-and-coming competitor Megan Martinez and league all-star Lali Outhoummountry were among the Bombers missing last night.
“It might not be the game you want, but you just deal with it,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you’re professional enough, you do the best you can.”
While the Bombers played without alternates, the Red Devils’ women’s squad had to play with four players instead of the usual five.
“I think they did fantastic, especially the girls, with only four on the team,” said general manager Georgia Hase.
It was a big night for Hase. In her last game before handing over the reigns to a new manager, she not only walked away with the championship title, but the Manager of the Year award as well.
“Actually, I’m sad,” Hase said, who has been involved with roller derby for 40 years. “But on the other hand, it’s time to move on.”
Players who are planning to return are already enthusiastic for the next season. Red Devils’ women’s captain and 2012 female MVP Marnie Smith felt she could have skated another whole game after their victory.
“We came to win, and we did what we came to do,” she said. “(I hope) to do it again and be back to back champions.”
Despite their loss, the Bombers know they played a good game, and many feel there was no better venue than Kezar Pavilion for this championship.
“We were hoping to retain the championship, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get the job done,” said Bomber Pappy Stern. “But I loved (skating here). It was my first time skating at Kezar, and it was an honor and a pleasure.”
Though the crowd was thinner than it has been for past games at Kezar, the passion for roller derby was alive and well. Some of the skaters and fans grew up going to Kezar to watch roller derby.
“It was a second home growing up,” said Gary Carrasco, who came to cheer the Bombers on. “My brother used to play for the Bombers. I’ve always loved the game.”
“I used to watch it every Saturday night, family night,” added Richard Monteleone.
Though roller derby is no longer widely televised like it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and the economy has made it harder for players now to dedicate all of their time to the sport, the most devoted fans and players usually find their way back to the game.
“(Kezar Pavilion) has a lot of sentimental value to me, because this is where I grew up watching (roller derby),” said Fitzpatrick. “And it died out, but what sport has ever died out and now has a chance to bring it back?”