Tell us about your derby name/number. How did you come up with it?
I knew right away that I wanted the number 1929. Every time I hear that number, the word “crash” instantly comes to mind. So, it’s a good number for a roller derby. I’m also a bit of a political/history junkie. So, I like that my number describes both a hard derby hit and the stock market crash that brought on the Great Depression.
What made you get into roller derby?
A friend invited me to the first meeting. Before that, I had spent a few years mildly stalking Steel City. When I found out there was a team forming in Johnstown, I had to try it.
What is your favorite thing about roller derby?
It’s a great escape. I’m generally pretty shy and anxious around large groups of people. I’m definitely not the type of person who would typically enjoy playing a contact sport in front of a crowd at the War Memorial. But, I do. I love that the minute I get on the track, there just isn’t time for that. All of the anxieties, insecurities, and day-to-day nonsense just goes out the window because you can’t really worry about that stuff when another girl is coming at you full speed trying to knock you to the ground.
Were there any skills/techniques that really scared you at first, but now come naturally to you? How did you overcome your fear?
There are so many! I don’t have a lot of natural skating talent. So a lot of the skills took me a lot longer to learn. I had to work at some things harder. When the turn-around toe stop was first demonstrated, I was certain I’d never be able to do it. I couldn’t even skate on one foot and I was supposed to whirl around and land on my toe stops?! When we learned the can opener, I thought it was the most dangerous looking thing I’d ever seen and I was certain I could never do it. I do it all the time now. That’s what I love about derby. If you work at it, you can really surprise yourself. Things that you thought were completely crazy and you’d NEVER be able to do eventually become normal.
Embarrassing derby moment:
I recently shoved my hand in my coach’s mouth. Twice. Our coach plays with us during practice and will also be playing in our co-ed bout coming up. I was watching the jammer while facing him and trying to anchor him. I wasn’t looking and used his mouth to brace him. I tried to correct it, again, without looking and did it a second time. I also recently confused my own jammer with the opposing jammer and ended up hitting my jammer pretty hard. It forced my team to call it off. Same person: Coach Brad. We have very, very understanding coaches.
Boutfits” Pro or Against?
Pro, Pro, PRO! I love that the heart of derby has always had a “misfits welcome” culture. I love derby names and the often dreaded tutu and fishnets. I know the sport is getting away from this as it becomes more “legit” but I hope that the misfit spirit never goes away. Not everyone is going to be Scald Eagle (who rocks some seriously impressive face paint, by the way) or Bonnie Thunders. While I love that derby is being taken more seriously these days, I hope that there will always be a spot for the small town weekend warrior who wants to create a derby persona, put on some glitter and hit some people.
What was the craziest photo taken of you playing derby? (Please share the photo) What is going on in this photo? OR Why do you like it?
This isn’t the craziest photo, but I love it because we look like children playing on the floor. This photo was taken at a game where we were really outmatched. The other team was just so much more experienced than us. It was taken towards the end of the game and we were losing by quite a bit. I collided with my own teammate, the amazing Kimber Kai, as the jam whistle blew and this is our reaction. We both just started laughing. It’s not the best derby moment, but it captures everything I love about derby. Where else do you get to have these genuine, playful, “rolling around on the floor laughing with friends” moments as an adult? I also like that we still felt this way while getting our butts kicked by an incredibly talented opposing team.
Is there someone who has been particularly supportive to you either on or off the track?
My husband, John, has been amazing. When we lived in Pittsburgh, I used to go all fan girl anytime I saw the Steel City players out and about. I’d get all excited, stare at them, and nudge John. “That girl plays roller derby!”(It’s seriously a wonder none of the Steel City girls have restraining orders.) He’d always try to encourage me to talk to them about it, but I never did. I didn’t even know how to skate! When I found out about this league, he really encouraged me to join. I was excited, but also really scared of failing. He basically told me, this is your chance, you HAVE to take it. I struggled a lot in the first year and I’d come out of some practices in tears, convinced that there was no way that I would ever be able to do this. He’d talk me down and get me to go back. He’s a good skater and he’d practice with me outside, patiently helping me learn the skills I was having trouble with. Now, he’s one of our coaches. Derby has become something we do together. I’m three years in and I would have never made it this far without his help and support.
Do you prefer blocking or jamming? Why?
Blocking. I just love it. I love rollin’ with my posse causing trouble. Jamming can be pretty great, but one of my favorite things as a blocker is the opportunity to cause chaos where it is not expected. The other team is usually focused and ready to do battle with the jammer, but as a blocker, we sometimes become invisible while opposing players are reforming their pack or focusing on other things (like jammers). I love finding those moments and taking advantage.
Do you have a favorite team to play? Why?
NARD. I just love playing them. It’s always a really competitive, fun game and they’re just great people to play against. They’re really talented and they have a great attitude as a team. (For those of you interested in a road trip, J-town will be playing them on August 27th in our first every outdoor bout!)