OHRG takes to the track in last year's season opener. Photo by Earl Sod Courtesy OHRG
On March 8th, the Ohio Roller Girls (OHRG) will begin their season with a slam. The season opener will be a home bout against Nashville Roller Girl and may be a classic struggle. OHRG has not played against Nashville since 2010 when they were defeated handily despite predictions of a victory. Nashville started the season ranked 39 in the world but lost their season opener to Evansville Indiana by nearly 50 points in a close contest. Nashville has made it to the playoffs in the past but does not have the playoff record that OHRG does. The bout looks to be a classic battle between offensive and defensive minded teams. According to OHRG nine year veteran Amy Spears, who skates under her own name, Nashville can be expected to rotate players through the jammer position. The Nashville team has “Veteran Skaters, this should be a good game.” Spears continued by saying their rotation tactics give their team “a lot of breadth.” Nashville does feature memorable offensive players, including jammer Four Leaf Roller, who was termed “Very Strong.” 22nd Ranked Ohio will focus on their defense according to both Spears and OHRG veteran Bratislava Bruiser, or Bruiser for short. Both veterans emphasized “Keeping up strong walls” while Spears went so far as to call Ohio's defense “A well oiled machine.” OHRG will try to set the tone early on by using their tactics to kill Nashville's momentum and break their jammer's confidence. OHRG will also focus on a tactic called recycling, which switches the blockers most directly on the opposing jammer often, wearing them down. Both teams have seen roster changes since last season with a number of retirements. None of the players interviewed seemed to think this would affect the overall strength of OHRG which relies on teamwork. OHRG has also gained veteran players through transfers from other leagues including Ena Flash, who transferred from Glass City Roller Girls to play with OHRG. Slash previously also skated for the division one powerhouse London Brawling. OHRG does not seek skaters from other leagues for talent but instead accepts transfers if they are “culturally a good fit” with the group according to Bruiser. Slash commutes from Toledo three times a week to participate in OHRG scrimmages at the OHRG's south side facility. Having their own facility at their disposal has greatly improved their training regime. OHRG had been unable to set up a regulation track to practice on during borrowed and rented time at traditional skating rinks. The facility allows longer practices under regulation conditions for both the charter travel team and the B-team known as “Gang Green.” When not actively on the track during practice, OHRG members focus on non-skate exercises to build endurance and agility. Despite being both on average physically and numerically smaller than other division one teams, OHRG skaters all expressed pride and confidence in their training and teamwork. The bout will attract a large audience from all walks of life. The sport has garnered participation in Columbus from a wide variety of people as fans, support staff, officials and players. That atmosphere is family friendly, with kids showing up to get autographs signed and adults having birthday parties in the stands. The March 8th face off will be the first of six home and five away bouts for OHRG this season. This years schedule will be different, with fewer triple headers and more down time to process lessons between bouts for OHRG, something that Bruiser welcomes. The season opener will be covered by the Columbus Free Press.