UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Inceptions can be tricky.
Ask any roller derbyist how and when the Mohawk Valley Cup originated and you'll get several answers-all of which are true. It's as likely to begin the story with Utica Quadfathers blocker Joe "Woo" Stever conceiving a men's roller derby tournament as it is to concede that such an epiphany couldn't take place without Graham "Grambo" Espe first founding the Quadfathers as a team a priori in 2008.
Others might sneak the burning of Rome in 64 CE into the equation, in one of those "history had to happen exactly this way for there to even be roller derby, let alone Mohawk Valley Cup!" ways.
The more postmodern derbyfolk will cite an infinite regress to the days of celluloid construction, maintaining that the ability to even have feet that can fit into roller skates made by hands brandishing opposable thumbs, happened eons ago and could be called the rightful beginnings of Mohawk Valley Cup.
Whatever one considers the start, all tracks will eventually join this weekend at the JFK Civic Arena in Rome, NY, where men's roller derby teams from three countries (America, Canada, and England) will battle for the Atlantic Northeast-on roller skates! Due to the successful launch of MVC last year, which featured teams from New York, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Vermont, the Utica Quadfathers has expanded the event abroad, inviting both Montréal's Mont Royal Men's Derby (MMRD) and Manchester's New Wheeled Order (NOW) to attend this year.
Another 2013 newcomer, Tacoma Washington's Puget Sound Derby Outcasts, will grace the JFK Civic Area as well. This latter team will kick off the Cup with what promises to be a hard-hitting, high octane bout against the event hosts at 9 am this Saturday morning. Last year, the Quadfathers placed 7th in the tournament; this year they are itching for a climb.
However, they must be cautious: Puget Sound, currently #5 in MRDA, has recently reaped rinks regarding its June 15th victory against Portland's Bridgetown Menace (242- 199). More recently, players from both Puget Sound and the Quadfathers have skated with and against each other in RollerCon's first ever MRDA All Star bout.
Next up we'll see Montreal's Mont Royals in a grueling sixty minutes against Massachusetts's Mass Maelstrom. The latter is a returning team to MVC, having entered Mohawk Valley 2012 as the 5th seed and leaving as the 2nd seed.
Since MVC 2012, Mass has added transfers from the Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen, packing an ever more powerful punch along with its usual suspects (last year both MVP blocker and MVP jammer went to Mass skaters, No Big Deal and Jack Hammer'd respectively).
As for the Mont Royals, this will be its first time at the Mohawk Valley Cup. Currently ranked 16 in the Men's Roller Derby Association (MRDA), and with 2013 victories over both Vermont's Mean Mountain Boys (303-126) and two wins over Ottawa's Slaughter Squad (208-132; 263-124),this bout is set to bring all the best skating skills and heart to the track.
Though it seemed like nothing could stop Montréal's monstrous momentum, 'Merica mounted munitions in the form of Connecticut's Death Quads (CTDQ), who toiled to soil the Royals' spoils in a nail-biter of a bout, evidenced by its final score that left the Death Quads as victors (167 -182).
And it is these very Death Quads that Albany's Capital District Trauma Authority will have to face in the third bout of the Mohawk Valley Cup in the third bout of Saturday.
However, Capital District, after a hard fought and victorious bout over the Quadfathers earlier this year (305-101), which bumped them up in MRDA rankings from 15 to 12, are poised for a brawl! And while it is hard to determine an outcome, I will allow myself one prediction: given the strength of these two teams, the bout is sure to evoke to leave audiences wanting more.
The final bout of Saturday will feature 2012 Mohawk Valley Cup winners, the New York Shock Exchange (NYSE), against Manchester England's New Wheeled Order (NWO). Manchester is no stranger to American derby; or the Shock Exchange. Last year, NYSE toured the English countryside, beginning in Manchester and ending in London.
Manchester, a new addition to MRDA, is currently on its own tour of America, having just bouted Pioneer Valley's Dirty Dozen in an impressive 516 - 57 victory along with a scrimmage against Connecticut's Death Quads.
But Mohawk Valley didn't just expand its horizons by inviting teams from over the skyline. Skaters aren't the only ones prepping for this glorious weekend; this year also marks the first ever MRDA officiating clinic!
Run by Ann Persand, Goldie Gloves, Lethe L. Injection, Bambi Lance, The Gorram Reaver, and Kilty Conscience the clinic covers classes considering conviviality, conflict resolution, rule reinforcement, probably proper Persandian paperwork preparation, necessary NSO notions, tips, techniques, training, and more!
So when and where do we start the story of Mohawk Valley Cup? The birth of the Quadfathers? The Quadfather's quadson, Woo, quadfathering Mohawk Valley Cup (thereby making Utica quadgrandfathers?). With the expansion of leagues, and addition of the clinics (and pool!), it seems Mohawk Valley Cup is, in the very least, in a state of healthy growth.
So perhaps that question is not as important as the consummate junction, where all tracks meet, in a continuous cycle of skates, blood, and heart, to be seen this weekend when 8 teams, 24 refs, and 24 NSOs will bring every last breath of determination they have to the track. For derby. For sportsmanship.
To set fire to Rome.
(Credit to: Tom "Bane-ana" Hatsis of the New York Shock Exchange)