Published on January 22nd, 2014 | by Andy Frye9
Tink by Mark Sheehan
Roller Derby’s Wrecking Ball: Tink
During warm-ups for our 2013 bout against Race City in Indy, a few of my Chicago Bruise Brothers teammates saw TINK fire up his skates. One of our jammers pointed said, “He’s big, but we can handle him.” That was before TINK almost independently handled us.
It’s true that first and foremost, roller derby is a game that is about agility and mastery of speed on eight wheels. Most of the best players are also the game’s best skaters, men and women who have been tying up laces in a rink long before they could drive a car. But the game still evolves.
That Saturday afternoon, we knew that Race City had excellent jammers. What we didn’t anticipate was that in the efforts to contain their scoring assault that we would also have to contend with a wrecking ball on skates.
TINK is built like an NFL defensive lineman and represents a newer strain of derby athlete, one who makes weight-training a large part of his preparations for the flat-track.
While Race City expertly set up three-walls as any good derby squad, TINK added something more, acting more like a street sweeper, knocking each of us (and sometimes two or three of us) to the side, brushing us far to the outside line with barely a foot or two to spare before hitting the front row seats. When it was my turn and TINK isolated me, I didn’t even try to counter-block him. There would be no point.
What this new member of Team USA shows us is that there are new roles emerging within in derby that employ different skill sets as well as totally different mindsets. TINK can be found at the front of his own pack, taking out bigger blockers, while other times he is behind his pack, “playing cleanup” to dismantle what’s left of his opponents’ lines in anticipation of his jammer’s next lap. The former Race City skater has returned to the Cincinnati Battering Rams—lucky them!
I’ll assume – by his size, of course—that TINK probably spent some good years on the football field. And, whether or not it is intentional, TINK’s dual role as a blocker appears to be a combination of a center and a strong safety. In the front of the pack he’s like a lineman after the snap of the ball, wreaking havoc and running forward to get his point-scorer through. Only seconds later, he’s behind you with a tackle, just when you think you’ve gotten away.
Any roller derby veteran thinking that their fast feet and many miles on the track will do might want to think again. In this ever-changing sport in which smart teams put up diverse strategies and differing strengths to break you down, strength in roller derby is now as important as speed. And if you’re facing TINK this season, I’d start hitting the gym. Beware, the wrecking ball is coming.