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proud partner of the WFTDA

fiveonfive contents



advice ask swede hurt and suzy hotrod!

WFTDA The WFTDA’s Partnership with UN Women. We Believe: Empowerment, Equality through Roller Derby.


business attendance google drive

18-23 games and coaching

Jennifer M. Ramos


health and fitness getting fit for derby hydration for performance

36-37 derby photography

biking ride out teamwork

Triggerhappy explores her evolving derby photography through the evolution of the sport.

24-25 gear 30-31

junior derby a new generation of speedy gonzaleses


rookie belonging in derby confessions of a smash-a-holic

42-43 international derby

Laina McWhorter

toe guards

38-41 alcoholism Dawn of the Shred talks drinking and derby with brutal transparency.

editor phoenix aka stacey casebolt castle rock ‘n’ rollers art director assaultin’ pepa rocky mountain rollergirls contributing writers swede hurt stockholm roller derby suzy hotrod gotham girls roller derby

from the editor Welcome to the 37th issue of fiveonfive!

It’s hard to believe the summer has already passed and the leaves are already changing colors on the trees! Fall is most definitely my favorite season.

scarlett o’harder sheffield steel rollergirls bitches bruze southshire roller derby dstroyher philly roller derby slaps roller derby fitness

We want to send a special note of thought and care out to those of you who have been affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. If nothing else, perhaps the fall will bring an end to the crazy storms that have plagued the U.S. over the last few months. As for the snow, I say bring it!

catholic cruel girl rocky mountain rollergirls old xchool northern californian roller derby

While we wait for the snow (don’t curse me for that please), let’s focus on

coach j sin east side rollergirlz

a little bit of roller derby, shall we? In this issue we have so many great

kate rennels

articles! Suzy Hotrod and Swede Hurt are back as always with some great

hermione danger sheffield steel rollergirls

advice, and Old Xchool is back with more great blocking moves to help you

bobus maximus sheffield steel rollergirls

up your game. Scarlett O’Harder talks attendance, and Bitches Bruze has

angry topaz rocky mountain rollergirls

some great tips for using Google Drive to help your team manage, well,

triggerhappy arizona roller derby

everything. I won’t give away the rest, but make sure you don’t miss the great

dawn of the shred treasure valley roller derby

content by Dstroyher, Slaps, and J Sin to name just a few, and a powerful

bob noxious brown paper tickets

piece on alcoholism by Dawn of the Shred.

cover photo preflash gordon fiveonfive magazine

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the contributing writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of fiveonfive magazine.

Skate happy and safe!

Phoenix aka Stacey Casebolt

Castle Rock ‘N’ Rollers


Many thanks to our contributors who come from all over the roller derby community and share their knowledge based on their countless hours of dedication to this sport! Check out additional contributors at

Old Xchool Old Xchool started skating when he was eight years old, using the outdoor clamp on skates and trained at the Roller Derby Training School in Oakland, California when he was 12. In 1980, he went into flat-track speed skating and became a certified speed skating official. He refereed about seven years until his job took him overseas where he started a beginner outdoor speed skating team on the military base. In 2010, he started coaching the local women’s roller derby team the Tsunami Sirens in Crescent City, California.

Bob Noxious Bob Noxious is best known for his 12 years of announcing roller derby and helping derby events around the world. Bob’s “previous life” includes a BA in Business Management as well as many years managing people, projects and designing training within corporate America. He is currently a Doer for Brown Paper Tickets where his time is focused on helping the sport with event planning, business troubleshooting, and teaching basic business acumen.

Hermione Danger Hermione Danger has been skating since she was eight, and has been a part of the derby community since she was ten. She has roller skated in at least four different countries, and every one was different. Her whole family is derby, and she can’t imagine a world without this fantastic sport.

Dawn of the Shred Dawn of the Shred has been jamming for Treasure Valley since 2008. She has served in many league leadership positions. Off the track, she directs E-Commerce initiatives for a custom manufacturer. She lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and crazy German Shorthair Pointer.

Angry Topaz Angry Topaz has been skating roller derby on and off for seven years. She started skating with PJRD under OSDA rule set from there went into MADE rule set, while also skating banked track. Eventually skating RDCL rule set on the banked track and now skating WFTDA with the lovely ladies of Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. In other words: all the rule sets, all the tracks, ALL THE FUN!!

Suzy Hotrod

Swede Hurt

Gotham Girls Roller Derby New York, NY

Stockholm Roller Derby Stockholm, Sweden

dear blocker and jammer, I retired from derby about five years ago and have been thinking about going back. I’m nervous because I know the game/rules have changed and the skill level has increased so much since I left. Any advice on how I can prepare myself to return? -SCARED TO SKATE

dear STS, Things have indeed changed A LOT. I always say “derby is like dog years.” So yeah, like seven years of shit changes in a year. Look at rosters from any team, it’s hard to find that many familiar faces from five years ago. Skill level, you betcha. All the girls I met when I joined derby (myself included!) would probably not be joining current derby, it’s way too serious and athletic, haha. Before you decide to come back, I just want you to very seriously examine the reasons you retired and decide if you’re ready to commit yourself again. For all of my friends who have retired, they miss the camaraderie and community the most. Conversely, we all know that feeling of warm reminiscence we feel once we’re far away from something that we have left, but you need to remember all the negative aspects too. Commitment is crucial in your successful return and there were reasons your left. You’re always going to be connected to the sport and get pumped for that thrill of competition, but you need to make sure that your heart is fully in it. Also make sure your loved ones are ready for this return. We all know that your return to derby will change the amount of time you spend with family. So you’ve got two options: kick your butt into gear to get back out there or find an off skates way to get back out there. You sound like you’re ready to lace your skates back up so I’ll focus on that option. (As a Plan B, you can always get involved in committee work, officiating, or bench managing if you’re not feeling the return to skates.) So. Getting back out there. First I recommend making sure you are physically fit. So if you’ve been a little dormant, you’re going to need to get yourself to the gym, like whoa, NOW. It’s no secret, you can get seriously hurt if you’re out of shape. Roller derby is really dangerous... duh! You need your cardio up to snuff and your need to wake up those quads. You need strong muscles to support for your whole body because you’re about to get back into full on body destruction and strength will help keep you safer. On skates, if your league has boot camp/intro to skating events, make sure to attend everything. Don’t skimp on these re-introduction classes, even if you think you know all the basics... maybe you don’t. Many in the league don’t know you, so get your face out there and be seen. You need to show that you’re serious about commitment to a return. I’ve seen skaters return from long breaks who chose not to attend the intro classes and the coaching committee were not very impressed with the message it sends that they show up on tryout day “expecting” to get back in. Be humble and be ready to listen. I’ve worked with the coaching committee for many years and I can tell you they look for someone who is coachable and is receptive to feedback. If you’re a derby “old hag” don’t ever use that as a excuse, and don’t say it out loud. Stay chill, quiet, listen, and be positive. Be like a fresh rookie. Start watching more derby. Get out to the local games and also start watching the global stage of derby. Once you’re on a team, you’re going to catch up fast. Remember, girls who’ve never played derby join every season and learn the game fast. Your teammates and scrimmaging in general will get you up to speed quickly. Bring the best version of yourself to the track and the game changes will easily come to you. It’s still a sport on skates, so if you’re physically fit and strong in your skating skills you’ll be a great contributor to your team. You can do this!


Fall 2017 |

dear STS, You already seem to be prepared, you know it has changed and you are returning knowing that you probably will have lots of new skills and rules to learn. I would say that trying to skate as much as possible and also do some off-skate workouts will help you be more prepared for when you actually re-join. A fit body will be more adaptable and you will be able to keep your brain alert longer, if you aren’t exhausted. Roller derby is different from five years ago, but it is not rocket science. It is different, but to be honest, if you are willing to work hard, have fun, and keep on getting up when you fall, I don’t think you will have a problem returning. Don’t expect to be the best from the get go, set reasonable goals for yourself, and have fun! Laugh and learn!

dear blocker and jammer, Our league frequently has transfers from other smaller leagues, rec leagues or apprentice leagues. On their old leagues, these transfers may have passed the minimum skills test, bouted and been total rockstars, but they aren’t up to our league’s level of play or safety. We want to keep them around and help them increase their skills. How do we gently tell them that they aren’t rockstars here without them losing interest, getting angry or quitting? -LET ‘EM DOWN GENTLY

dear LEDG, I’m assuming these skaters have passed the WFTDA minimum skills assessment? Technically that means they are safe to bout, so I hope these skaters just need to reel in some wild tendencies or have bad habits they picked up and need to break. We host open scrimmages at Gotham and the coaches in charge are completely trusted to pull any skaters that look unsafe to the others. So get your coaches involved if safety is ever a concern during scrimmage. A business model that has worked successfully for the larger leagues is a talent training pool group. In Gotham, we only draft to our home teams once a year. So if transfers come mid year they can be evaluated by the coaching committee and formally transfer into the league to join open practices but but they are not placed on a home team midseason, they join our training and development pool (if you’ve seen Gotham’s, it’s called Diamond District.) We take skaters that we believe have potential to be coached, have potential for growth, and have a positive influence on the league. At tryout times that means we take a lot of our Basic Training program skaters who are ready to move up, but may not be ready to hold their own against out All Stars in blocking drills... yet. During open tryouts we take far more than we know we have space for on our home teams. These potential talent go to our training and development pool. They train together like a team would and when spots open on home teams they can be drafted and just this year we also allowed this talent and development pool to participate in tryouts for our travel teams of which we have A, B, and C levels. (Note: In Gotham we rarely fill a home team spot midseason because we draft for life on those teams, so team captains are not likely to immediately fill one spot if they can wait until the following draft season to have the pick of all the new tryout skaters, whereas traveling teams are likely to fill open roster spots immediately because each season skaters must tryout again for these teams.) Culturally we have had to deal with issues in keeping up morale of the talent and development pool. We’ve had to deal with frustrations of skaters year after year not getting drafted, we’ve had to deal with this group feeling like 2nd class league members because they have a different practice time slots and don’t mix as much with the other skaters, so it’s not been perfect and requires work to always improve it but year after year it has improved as it’s grown. Some skaters get drafted, some skaters keep working with the goal of getting drafted next season, some skaters are happy to call the training and development pool their home and don’t even ask to be put in the draft pool, and some skaters leave. If your league is larger, this has been a great way to grow our league numbers, invest in talent, and train skaters to our level of quality for the future. Your coaching committee needs to be very communicative and selective about who they allow in and if they will be placed on a team. No one should ever be able to transfer in without a coaching committee evaluation and letter or recommendation from their previous league. These skaters came to your league because you’re the bigger, stronger league. So demand the best of them. They’re not going to get angry and quit, or they wouldn’t have transferred to you. Having a group they can train in together will help keep them from losing interest, after all this is a team sport so a group to identify as your home is important. Before our training and development pool we had “rotten meat” which was a blanket term for all the homeless skaters who transferred in but had nowhere to go. We’re happy that’s over, and those skaters can all work together while they develop their skills and wait to see if roster spots open. Best of luck! Congratulations on being a league that gets smaller league transfers. You have to work hard to grow to that size!

dear LEDG, First we have to consider why they transferred. If they transferred because they wanted higher level play, they will understand if you are very honest and let them know what skills they are lacking. Give them goals and skills to work on, if they were one of the driving forces or talents on their old league, they probably will respond well to that. There are always some skaters that just are incredibly talented, and when transferring to a league with higher standards, it’s the first time they actually aren’t the “best” and that might be a blow to the ego. Some skaters might react with what seem to be anger, but it might just be their way of showing disappointment and them feeling like they are not good enough. It is hard to transfer to a new league, with new people and not knowing how you stack up. Letting a skater know what level you currently think that they are, but also that you see lots of potential is not bad way of getting them started. All skaters are different, and sometimes it might not be that the transfer thinks that they are a rockstar, but they are just used to doing it all by themselves. It takes a time of adjustment to fit into a new league. I’ve transferred several times, and the one thing I always wanted was just for someone to talk to me, let me know what was expected, and people to be willing to take a few minutes here and there to show me skills that were valued in my new league. And to be honest, to find someone that wanted to have a coffee or a beer once in a while... Bottomline, I think that being able to communicate to transfers that you see potential in them and that if they come to practice and work hard, they will succeed. In the end you can’t force skaters to become better, they have to want it themselves, but you can give them the tools to become better and reach their goal.

need advice? email | Fall 2017



If you’ve ever sat on a committee that has anything to do with team selection, you’ll know how often attendance comes into play and probably have felt frustration of its confines. Whether it’s an amazing player whom you just can’t field for fear of backlash from the team, or a lower tiered skater who attends every session but is overlooked for lesser attending but are ultimately more skilled players. At some point, you’re probably going to hit a wall that your team’s attendance policy has created and in my experience, allowing some wiggle room in order to remain competitive, is important. Everyone knows why attendance is important. It’s to both ensure truth is: some of your skaters may still be your best option EVEN your safety and efficacy on track – both in terms of your individual THOUGH they’re not high attenders. skills on track and way you gel with your team – I’m not saying ditch your attendance policy. but the reality is that just because you attend It’s important to have a benchmark but to remain ...if you wish every session, it doesn’t mean you are competitive, attendances should be an advisory to remain necessarily the right person for the job. criterion; something that is considered as part competitive, then I’ve skated for a few teams now and they’ve of the selection but that doesn’t automatically you need to be each had their own approach to attendance cut people out. We all know through playing and I’ve seen the positives and negatives to derby that life gets in the way sometimes as fielding your each of them, but one thing seems to be an well as injury being common and this must strongest team absolute certainty to me: if you wish to remain be considered. It seems that all too often possible and this competitive, you need to be fielding your attendance criteria are used as a carrot-andstrongest team possible and this ideal can stick combo and I couldn’t disagree more on ideal can often often fall flat when considering attendance. this method. fall flat when It is a sometimes difficult to swallow reality I don’t believe in forcing people to attend considering that there are some people who are just better, training by the threat of being removed from attendance. perhaps more experienced or simply they pick the squad as a punishment (often how it comes things up more quickly. You might even find that across), mainly because of the reasons above: these more highly skilled skaters could still trump most of your you risk cutting out amazing players who will guarantee you win team and only show up once a month. The rather inconvenient games as well as dragging tired and possibly grumpy skaters to

It’s important to have a benchmark but to remain competitive, attendances should be an advisory criterion; something that is considered as part of the selection but that doesn’t automatically cut people out.


Fall 2017 |

DoD photo by Ingrid Barrentine, Northwest Guardian staff (released: Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs Office)

training when they want a night off. That’s just a recipe for disaster on all counts. In addition, it often masks a bigger issue: if your league suffers poor attendance then you need to be looking at why that is and work on creating a culture that sees practice as a positive thing. Forcing people’s arms will ultimately make them feel resentful.

We know it’s important to have a policy in place so that our skaters know what is expected of them, but I do feel that having something so rigid in place can cause more issues than it solves. As with everything, it’s incredibly important that whatever your policy, it is transparent, easy to follow and always reviewed to avoid resentment. | Fall 2017


google drive for league business BITCHES BRUZE, SOUTHSHIRE ROLLER DERBY

Let’s face it, leagues conduct a lot of business and have a lot of paperwork and things to keep track of. While there are many paid solutions out there for storing and sharing files, perhaps none are as powerful and cost effective as Google Drive. Drive and its apps (Docs, Sheets, Forms, file management, and more) are used by businesses around the world to collaborate, but in order for Drive to work everyone on your league needs to be familiar with how to use it most effectively. Here’s a primer to get people up-to-speed on using Google Drive and its apps. collaboration on the cloud You’d be hard pressed to find someone today who uses the web and hasn’t interacted with “the Cloud.” Using the Cloud is simply having access to files stored on the internet on a device other than one you own. If you’ve streamed a movie or downloaded a song you have accessed the Cloud. Someone, somewhere, stored that movie or song on a computer, set permissions on who could play it (by selling you a membership or giving you a link) and then you followed a menu and found it. Google Drive operates much the same way. setting up Google Drive for your league I recommend the league have one central Google Drive account. You must have a Google account to use Google Drive. You do NOT have to use GMail to have a Google account (watch my video on how to set up a Google Account without GMail). It really can’t hurt to have a GMail account even if you don’t use it for the league’s email. It is a great way to organize information about your Google activity, retain institutional memory, and retain direct ownership of your league’s files. When a league is reveling in all its lovely new relationship energy it’s easy to forget the fact that you all won’t be doing this forever. Make sure you create an account that multiple people can access and keep it available after the founders leave. While it can be tricky to work with multiple people using a master email account, agreeing on basic protocol (if the email isn’t for you, mark it unread) helps tremendously


Fall 2017 |

with recording institutional communication. If you do not use a Gmail account, you’ll access Drive at where you will log in. You can log in to any Google product or even just Google (the search engine) and then click on the nine boxes in the upper right of the page to find Drive. organizing folders Like paper in the real world, folders organize content into understandable areas. When you think about folders by whom and when you’ll get the best organization possible. Each working group in your organization should have its own folder. For example, our league has separate folders for Coaching, Contracts, Games, Members, Sponsorship, etc. In each of those folders will be more folders. For example, in coaching you may have folders for practice plans, drill descriptions, rosters, and lineups, and assessments. After a year’s worth of practice plans, you might move those plans to a folder named with the year. A quick tip on naming files and folders; date stamp files that are related to a day or period. For example, if I were to make a practice plan for today, I’d name it 2017-08-09 Practice Plan because then all my practice plans, which will ultimately be listed in alphabetical order, will also be in date order. I used the four digit year, dashes are optional, followed by the next biggest thing which is the month – and I used 08 rather than just 8 because 8 is alphanumerically bigger than 10 (any NSO can tell you that). The two digit day rounds it out. This is great for practice plans and meeting minutes.

sharing folders and setting permissions The real power of using Google Drive comes in sharing and permissions. It can also be the most challenging for people who are not versed in cloud computing to understand. Every item in a Google Drive (folders, documents, sheets, photos, etc) can be shared or kept accessible only to people with access to the account. You can set a folder to be shared with specific people, or you can make Google Groups and set a folder to be shared with anyone in that group. You also have the options of sharing your folders and files to anyone who has the link or public on the internet. I’d encourage the use of groups for the bulk of your sharing. This makes adding and deleting people based on their membership easier than going into each folder or file that is shared every time leadership changes, someone joins the league, or leaves the league. You can make a group for your Board of Directors, a group for your Coaching Team, a group for Games Production, and a group for Membership. All these groups would get the appropriate access to various folders and the management of who gets what can stay at the group level. In addition to who can access files, in the “Share” settings you also set what level of access individuals and groups can have. The three levels are view, comment, and edit. With “view” people can look at a file but they will not be able to make any changes. In the advanced options, you can also make it so that people cannot easily copy the file (or folder) into their own drive. Comment is much the same as view, except people can leave comments on the file without actually changing the file. If you give someone the ability to edit, they can make changes to the document. Try to give the highest level of permission. Google keeps track of all the changes to a document for the life of the document and, if you’ve given people specific permission to edit, it will even tell you who did the editing and when. It’s very easy to revert back to older versions if someone makes mistakes in a file. In the advanced features you can make adjustments about whether editors can also add new people to the document. Whoever creates a file is its owner, but ownership can be

transferred. Owners always have all the rights to a document including the ability to transfer that ownership. An editor cannot transfer ownership. If you start your documents with the league account you will not need to anything. But if someone creates documents which you find should be owned by the league (in case something happens with that person), the original creator can change ownership in the “Share” settings. working in a personal google account with league google account When working with Google Drive, so long as your personal Google Account has permission to work on the organization’s files and folders in Drive, you can be logged into your own account. To get started, look in your “Shared With Me” folder in the left menu. Once you find a file or folder you are going to work with, you can organize it within your own Drive system. Perhaps you’ll want to make a folder in your personal Drive in which you’ll place the files and folders shared with you. That way each individual in an organization can organize the files and folders in ways that make sense to them, while keeping the organization’s organization intact. the google drive apps The main applications available in Google Drive are Docs (word processing), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations), Forms (surveys/voting/quizzes), Drawings, Maps, and Sites. You can also access Google Photos from your Google Drive. free training To learn how to do all these things and work with all of Google Drive’s Apps, I recommend becoming familiar with You may be familiar with Goodwill, your community thrift store. You may even know they are tasked with training people to be better employees, The GCF in is for Goodwill Community Foundation. They maintain this site of basic computer skills and applications and in it you will find out how to do all the things I mentioned in getting your league’s documents online and accessible to all the people affiliated with your league. | Fall 2017


getting fit for derby D S T R O Y H E R , P H I L LY R O L L E R D E R B Y F R E S H M E AT

My complaint: I can’t skate with my hips open. My hips do not open like that. The answer: Plies Once I got over the fear associated with having my skates pointed in opposite directions I quickly realized that my body did not open. Getting down on the floor and stretching my hips did not seem to have any benefit for me. So I went home and performed a plié to open me up. During my work day I stood in front of my desk with my heels touching and my toes pointing in opposite directions. I would then squat (keeping my core tight) and hold the position. Throughout the workday I did 20 plies and the improvement was very rapid. The comfort with the movement on skates became easier and my hips opened up while rolling. SUCCESS!

When I began my roller derby journey I had so many expectations. I expected to be able to immediately know how to fluidly skate backwards (like Catatonic Crush, Crossroads City Derby), to make killer stops on the banked track (like Penny Piston, Sun City Roller Girls), make amazing apex jumps (like Freight Train, Texas Rollergirls), block as if I am an impassable and frightening wall (like ZipBlock, Philly Roller Derby) while having great shoulders. So basically, I had only one unrealistic expectation. I thought that I would be able to do all of the amazing things that these ladies did on the track without putting in lots of off track work and changing some bad habits. The first was showing up without eating or drinking beforehand. For those of you that are not aware, I began skating in El Paso, Texas. El Paso is hot. It is beautiful, but it also HOT. So it wasn’t too long before I found myself faint, lying on the floor with cool rags on my head, neck, and chest. The lesson I learned was that I needed to fuel my body and drink at least a gallon of water on practice days. The second was showing up to practice without doing some sort of off skates practice during the week. I learned pretty early that I performed best when my body was fueled and when I had exercised during the week. Check out some of my common complaints and the exercises that I used to reduce or eliminate the complaints.


My complaint: I can’t go any lower and these squats are killing me. The answer: Sally’s El Paso Roller Derby called this workout Sally’s and it was completed to the song Flowers by Moby (although I am sure any song would work). Everyone was in full gear and when he said “Bring Sally up” we stood and Bring Sally down was a deep derby squat. Oh, and we had to squat the entire chorus. It was a grueling exercise. Following a challenge I began to complete Sally’s once a day at home and off skates. It made the difference. I was able to squat longer during practice and without the pain radiating through my thighs as quickly. I was also able to go lower because my body was conditioned to go low.

Fall 2017 |

My complaint: My left side hurts. The answer: Side crunches Yes, I know that we can skate in the opposite direction but for me, side oblique crunches make all the difference. I lie on my side and perform multiple sets on each side. This exercise benefits my core, hips, and back, which translates to better posture on skates which reduces the irritation in my sides while skating. My complaint: My lungs are burning and I cannot complete the 25/5. The On Skate answer: Skate for laps and not time. I learned so much in El Paso (how to cook Mexican food, where to find the best tortillas, and how to conquer the 25/5 on a banked track). I will never like the 25/5 (or its evil cousin the 27/5 ) but in El Paso I was given a great drill which I used to practice and eventually pass this MMR. Skate for laps! This meant that I skated as fast as I could for 25 laps and clocked my time. I repeated this several times each week with the goal of reducing the time. It is amazing how cutting

a few seconds off my time elevated my mood for practice. It also felt better than knowing I still only made 22 laps, because the focus was the time and not the laps. The Off Skate Answer: Utilize ankle weights. For me, the addition of quad skates on my leg was very tiring. So I decided to use my 3 lb ankle weights throughout the day to get my legs conditioned to the additional weight. I would park across the parking lot and then walk to my office with the ankle weights. Instead of the elevator I used the stairs with my ankle weights, and then while sitting I would do a few leg lifts. Over time, the addition of the skates was not as noticeable which meant that I was no longer staring at my feet during practice (willing them to move). These are just a few of the off skate exercises that can help you get fit for derby. A regular workout routine targeting the muscles and movements that we use in derby will help you be a better freshie and league mate. The ultimate goal is to be derby fit. | Fall 2017


improve your performance = improve your hydration S L A P S, R O L L E R D E R B Y F I T N E S S

Hey, I’m Lara from Roller Derby Fitness and I am here to tell you all you need to know about hydration for roller derby. Let’s get started on the basics... H2O Water is essential to life and every part of the human body relies upon it; it helps regulate body temperature, helps carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells in your body, and lubricates your joints – these are just some of its super powers. Water makes up 60% of your body, 70% of your brain and 80% of your blood, if we want to get deep about water, no form of life can exist without it. Wow. It’s drilled into us that we must drink more water. National guidelines advise between 2-2.5 liters per day. If you are exercising then this figure increases somewhat more. Hydration improves performance. Fact. In preparation for a bout or an intense training session you may be told to “keep hydrated!” But what exactly does this mean and how do you know when you have reached optimum hydration? How much should you be drinking before, during and after roller derby? sweat = fluid loss When you exercise, your muscles produce heat. For your body to stay regulated and within safe levels, water from your body is carried to the skin via blood capillaries and as your body loses heat, the water evaporates. Sweat loss also means loss of salts (electrolytes). Hydration MUST be considered before, during and after exercise. Especially in hot weather! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 5-7 ml of fluid per kg of body weight slowly between two and four hours before exercising. If you weigh 130 pounds for example, you should drink around 300420ml. Drinking water before training or a bout is sufficient, you do not need to consume sports drinks prior. This might perhaps be a different story if you are running a marathon or competing in an endurance event. If you struggle to drink plain water you can add some flavour e.g. a few slices of fruit or fruit squash.


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water v sports drinks The amount of fluid you consume during training depends on the amount of time you are skating and the intensity you are skating. For moderate intensity exercise lasting an hour or less, water is sufficient. If you are exercising at a high intensity for one hour or more then you may wish to consider a sports drink. You should aim to drink 400ml of fluid for every hour of exercise. The sports drink should contain electrolytes to replace lost salts as well as carbohydrates to give you fuel. For intense exercise between one and two hours, you should try and include 30g carbohydrate. For intense exercise between two and three hours, up to 60g of carbohydrate. Be aware of the time you spend training omitting breaks and team chats. There are three main types of sports drinks: hypotonic, isotonic, and hypertonic. Hypotonic drinks are sometimes referred to as ‘lite’ and normally contain around 4g carbohydrates per 100ml. As this is more diluted it is absorbed faster than plain water. Isotonic drinks are the typical kind of sports drinks, with most containing between 4-8g carbohydrates per 100ml, they absorb as fast or faster than water so offer good hydration and refuelling. Hypertonic drinks (e.g. pure fruit juice) normally contain 8g or more carbohydrates per 100ml however they are absorbed more slowly than plain water. After training you should drink to quench your thirst. The best way to calculate your fluid requirements after exercise is to weight yourself before and after exercise. For every 1kg of weight lost, you should drink between 1.2 and 1.5 litres of fluid. Drink in divided doses until fully hydrated. Monitoring your urine is always a good way to check your hydration levels – pale is good! recipe for success Sports drinks come in different forms; liquids, powders, tablets. Familiarize yourself with the contents as there are many different types out there. You can also make your own

DIY sports drink, check these recipes out: 500ml fruit juice + 500ml water + ¼ tsp salt (optional) = Isotonic 200ml fruit squash + 800ml water + ¼ tsp salt (optional) = Isotonic 100ml fruit squash + 900ml water + ¼ tsp salt (optional) = Hypotonic 250ml fruit juice + 750ml water + ¼ tsp salt (optional) = Hypotonic Adjust the volume of your sports drink depending on your exercise length and intensity but remember to keep the ratios the same! getting the balance right It is important that you prepare your hydration in advance of a training session, scrimmage, or a bout. Don’t be the person that comes with a tiny water bottle that need filling up three or four times during the session! Come prepared with the amount you plan to drink and be aware of the volume of fluid you are consuming. It’s really tempting when you are working hard in training to take big gulps of fluid, especially sports drinks which increase the urge to drink. Taking on too much fluid at one time can cause a rapid increase in your blood volume which increases the urge to need the toilet. Taking on too much water can dilute your sodium levels in your blood which can reduce your urge to drink before you have fully rehydrated. Try to take small but regular sips, perhaps chose a sports bottle with a cap to help regulate your intake. Make sure your drink is cool but not cold, cold drinks take longer for your body to absorb and your body has to work harder to regulate the temperature. Keep a track of your hydration and how you feel after

each session, remember you can adjust your hydration strategy accordingly. I hope you found this article helpful and informative, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch with us at Roller Derby Fitness, you can find us on Facebook and online at We offer personal training – team training – training programs – nutrition plans. Please share your hydration success pictures with us on facebook and insta! #rollerderbyfitness Happy hydration! | Fall 2017


Sweet Potato Chili C AT H O L I C C R U E L G I R L , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S

As winter approaches, comfort food reins Queen. This simple-to-make chili is both hearty and flavorful. It stands on its own as a meal with sliced fresh bread or can be enjoyed over rice or fried polenta triangles.

Makes 2 quarts ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 red pepper, chopped 1-2 ancho or anaheim peppers, chopped 2 jalapenos, seeded (or for spicier version, add seeds), diced 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced 3 large cloves garlic, minced 3 tablespoons chili powder 2 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 2 teaspoons dried basil 1 /2 teaspoon dried marjoram 2 bay leaves 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid, for added flavor) 28 ounces vegetable broth 2 15 ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained Juice of 1 lime 1

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan; add onion. Over medium heat cook onions, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Add peppers, jalapenos and sweet potatoes; cook and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic. Add chili powder and next 7 ingredients. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and broth. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Stir in beans and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and stir in lime juice. Wine Pairings A Spanish Monastrel will hold up to the fullness of this chili, but if you are wanting something a little different that will balance out the spice, a Soave is a fabulous choice; or try a Gavi. Prefer beer? A good stout or porter is the way to go.

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Carrot Cake C AT H O L I C C R U E L G I R L , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S

cake: about 3/4 pound carrots 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 4 large eggs 1 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut 1 /2 cup chopped walnuts 2 /3 cup raisins (optional)

frosting: 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 9-by-2 inch round cake pans, knocking out excess flour. Shred enough carrots on smallest teardrop holes of a box grater or with fine shredding disk in food processor to measure 2 cups. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and raisins (if using). Divide batter between cake pans and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool layers in pans on rack for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of each pan and invert layers onto rack to cool completely. To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until frosting is smooth. Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on a cake plate and spread with some frosting. Place remaining cake layer right side up on top and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. | Fall 2017



Looking to Give a Dose of Girl Power and Roller Derby Fun This Holiday Season? “Rise of the Undead Redhead” and “Woe of Jade Doe” will pack a punch and bust a gut! “Where was this series when I was a kid!” That’s what parents are saying about Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles. Dorothy Moore has never been outgoing. In fact, she’s downright shy. So when she and her sister Sam are forced to move in with their pink-haired, hearse-driving grandma, Dorothy’s not sure she can survive as the new kid in school. Skating as The Undead Redhead with her team Slugs & Hisses, Dorothy and her mismatched crew stumble their way to the track and championship in this wild ride for kids ages 8-12. Check it out at Ask for it at your independent book store, or buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.


My wife, Diane, and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year, and we’ve always wanted to go to Nashville. I contacted Electra Cal of the Tennessee Nashville Rollergirls to see if we could set up a session for a fiveonfive blocking techniques article. The rest is history.

Before we get into the Ride Out Blocking technique I want to make the distinction between a Screen block and the Ride out (or seal type) block: The Screen Block: This technique is normally used within a moving or stationary pack. The moving screen block is a form of position blocking with the intention of putting your body between the opposing blockers and your jammer for the purpose of scoring points. Contact with the opposition may or may not be necessary, (the screen is very much like the screen performed in basketball). Timing 1 with your jammer is important (it’s a function of seconds) as she approaches the back of the pack. If you set up the screen block too early your opponent will just


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step around you and get their blocking position back. See Figure 1 Chest screen. A chest screen can be set from any position on the track, within the pack or against an opposing team’s blocking wall. Your skating position can be backwards, sideways or straight up. The important thing to remember is the timing with respect to your jammer and getting your body in position. The Ride-Out block is an aggressive control-blocking technique. The technique is a function of your position and again, timing with your approaching jammer. The block will last seconds at best against an experienced skater. No matter how brief a time the block is sustained. This technique keeps the opponents under control as they struggle to release themselves from your ride-out block. Keep in mind that not every block is designed to hit someone, setting up points for the team will win bouts. Assisting your jammer through the pack when possible is good team play and will help to conserve her energy during long jams. How is it done? Start with a good balanced blocking posture and stance. Get on your barstool, slight bend at the knees, straight back, head on a swivel, hips tilted as if you are sitting on a barstool and skates set at about a shoulder’s width apart. There are two basic techniques that can be used for the Ride-Out block. We will set these techniques up from the right side, (You should learn these techniques from both left and right sides): The first technique requires the right leg placement to the front of the opposing skater using the hips as the main locking force on your opponent’s thigh. Get low and come in under your opponent’s hips,

(use your footwork for good position). Step over with your right skate and angle your hips behind the opponent locking their left thigh. (See Figure 2a and b.) Figure 2a: Ride-Out 2a block front position. Note the white 2b blocker’s right leg and skate step over the Blue blocker’s left skate as white shows the referee that her right elbow is not being used! Figure 2b: Rear view. Note the white blocker’s hip extension around the blue blocker’s thigh. This holds the blue blocker, once in this position the white blocker begins to get lower to maintain control. At this point you can drive your opponent out or just hold her in position to pin the pack, using the track boundary lines as an assistant blocker. (See Figure 3.) Figure 3: The ride-out block is set by white and the white jammer is in position to score. As your opponent struggles to escape, drop lower and lower for better control, show the referee your right arm because it will look like you are holding or elbowing while your jammer skates by for the score.


The second ride-out blocking technique requires a right foot placement to the rear of the opposing skater using your torso as the controlling force against your opponent. (See Figure 4a and b). Figure#4a: Ride-Out 4a block front position. Note the right leg and skate step behind to the rear of the blue blocker and again the right arm exposed to the referee as white uses her torso for control. Figure 4b: Ride Out block rear position. Note the white blocker’s torso around the opposing blue 4b blocker’s body as the white blocker’s right leg cuts off the blue blocker’s escape to the rear. At this point you temporarily have control. Figure 5: The ride-out block is set, white jammer is in position to score. As your opponent tries to escape, drop lower as you show the referee your right arm while your jammer skates by for the score. Options: If you need to maintain longer control of your opponent while using one of the ride-out blocking techniques, you can spin if your opponent tries to escape either inside or outside you. This will buy you a couple more seconds.

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Figure 6: White blocker made a strong escape move on the outside blue blocker when she spun into her maintaining constant contact while using the sideline as a blocking assist by steering her opponent. Figure 7: If your opponent tries to escape behind you during the ride out block, then spin backwards and again use the sideline as a blocker assist. Remember this is only temporary control. Figure 8: Get low as you secure your blocking position. Note blue blocker is dropping lower and lower as white struggles to escape. The bigger and taller your opponent is, the lower you need to get to maintain control over your opponent.


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8 Don’t set it up too early! This block will only be effective for a few seconds, just long enough for your jammer to score. That’s what wins bouts! I hope you enjoyed this article about the more subtle techniques you need to get yourself to the next derby level. Good luck to ya and keep the shiny side up! Old Xchool


drill courtesy of

situational scrimmage

Scrimmage is an essential part of a training plan – it allows skaters to work together on the track to try out all the skills they have been practicing, test out different strategies, and learn how to work with their team. Situational scrimmage takes it to the next level by giving one team a goal or tactic for each jam.

There are endless suggestions for what instructions you can give to a team; these are just a few that could be helpful. Only give instructions to one team at a time, to allow the other team to respond accordingly. You could also put several scenarios on pieces of paper and have one team draw randomly from a helmet. • everyone but the pivot plays defense • control the front of the pack • get your jammer through on the inside or outside only • aim for three jammer assists • push an opposing skater out of bounds three times • slow the pack at the start of the jam • allow the opposition to hold the front and try and force them out of play • make a wall of three at the front • trap one opposing player and come to a crawl • full jam with your jammer in the box • full jam with opposing jammer in the box • field only two blockers • final jam and you are winning or losing by three points • overtime jam

joe mac | Fall 2017


teamwork C O A C H J S I N, E A S T S I D E R O L L E R G I R L Z

Several times a week, all over the world, people put on their pads, lace up their skates, and strap on their helmets. They don’t do it for fame. They don’t do it for glory. They do it for the love of a sport. the vets of the team will have to retire and they need to They do it for this crazy mix of speed, agility and bone know they can entrust someone to take their place. Look at crushing hits the rest of the world calls ROLLER DERBY. As the person to your left and right and let them know what the average person watches these games, they see one a good job they are doing. Give them that friendly pat on thing over and over. Two teams get together and try their the back to let them know you are proud of the work they best to out skate, out think and out score their opponent. are doing. You are the first step to making a group of people One thing will always happen, one team will win and another that have a common hobby into a team. will lose. What is the key to the win? What is the difference As a coach, your job is even more troublesome. I coach between the teams? Some will say skill, some will say an all-women’s team. I put ten women together from strategy, and others will say the officials blew the game. As different walks of life and just as many mindsets. They all a coach, I am able to see something that most others won’t. have two things in common. First is a love for this sport. It is what will lead to more victories on the track than Second is a very dominant personality. anything else: TEAMWORK!!! A coach must be firm in their words, yet Anyone who has ever dealt with organized Teamwork is the always encouraging. That is harder than it sports has seen teamwork break down and key to winning. seems sometimes. When a game is going the devastating results. For example, coaches bad, a coach must be able to turn toward who constantly yell at the players when the team and show them that things are not as bad as they things don’t go exactly as planned, or players who just give seem. They must encourage their team to push forward up because they feel it’s not going the way it should. even when they feel like they have no hope. Don’t ever be Teamwork is the key to winning. This is where it is truly afraid to call that time-out, gather them on the sideline, look needed the most. When the game is going bad, how do you them all in the eye, and remind them that this is for fun react? How does your coach react? More importantly, how and that when the game is over they will still be a team does your team react? win or lose. Let them know how proud you are of even As a skater, when the game is going poorly, it is crucial the smallest accomplishment they have made, which may that you keep calm. Your less experienced teammates are be just putting points on the board in some cases. Make looking to you for guidance. They need to see in your face and hear in your words the encouragement and love of the sure they know the only way through the tough times is by sport. Your more experienced teammates are looking to you leaning on the person next to them and pulling from their to show your leadership abilities. There will be a day when strengths and weaknesses. A coach is a leader of the team,

When a game is going bad, a coach must be able to turn toward the team and show them that things are not as bad as they seem. They must encourage their team to push forward even when they feel like they have no hope.


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Joe Mac

whether they know it or not. Each of those skaters looks at you as the person to make that tough call when the game is on the line. Keeping yourself calm, cool, and focused will show your team how they should feel. This is not just about when things are going wrong in a game though. We spend more time together as a team in practice where we build a true team mindset. At practice, I have witnessed people who are able to pick up skills very quickly, while others continue to struggle. Those who struggle will skip a water break in order to stay on the track and practice a skill in an attempt to improve. How many of you have seen these people out there practicing a little more? How many of you have even said to yourself or heard others say, “Well if they don’t get it then it’s not my fault.” Joe Mac Wrong, if you are not out there helping them to better themselves then you are at fault. This is part of teamwork. The person who is struggling needs words of encouragement and friendly faces to show them they can do this. Take the time to get to know those new faces at practice. They just might be that one who is there to help you get through the pack and turn even the worst bout around. The biggest team fault seen time and time again is infighting. This is basically a complete and total meltdown of one or more members of the team. This does no one any good. Feelings will get hurt and inevitably things will be said that cannot be unsaid. If you catch yourself doing this then stop and ask yourself, have I done all I can do? Also, what can I do to help the person who I think is messing things up

to become better? The person you are mad at may not be able to do the job they need to do because you aren’t doing the job you should be doing. Coaches should recognize this as a time to take a break and get some water at practice. Pull those who are arguing aside and be the moderator. Find out what the problem is and see what can be worked out. Make sure they return to the track with no hard feelings. This would also be a good time to think about changing what is going on at practice. They may be pushing themselves to the breaking point. Sometimes we all need to remind ourselves why we do what we do. If you are on a board, or are a coach, you should help to plan team functions. No, not those that are required to promote your league. The ones where the team gets away from derby and has a good time. Show your players there is life for them off the track. This can be as simple as taking the time to learn a new team chant to say before each bout or a dance to a certain song. You can go as far as taking a day every month and meeting somewhere away from the rink for some social time. I am not claiming to be a super coach. I have been guilty on more than one occasion of not listening to my own advice. I have learned from my mistakes and have done my best to correct them. I am still a work in progress and always will be. I do believe that through teamwork, this sport only gets better. If we cannot work as a team, there will be no team. With no team there would be no derby. With no derby, well let’s not even begin to think of how horrible that would be. | Fall 2017


the scuffed toe K AT E R U N N E L S

If you’ve been around derby for a long time or are just a beginner, you probably have seen or are beginning to see exactly what I’m talking about when I say “Scuffed Toe.” When, as a skater, you go to a knee and slide along, on one or both, inevitably, you then drag a toe along the skating surface. Now the top of your brand new skate boots has been marked! If you have skated enough you have see the scuffed toes then you have also seen what skaters do to protect them. The knitted toe guards, the plastic toe guards, and my favorite, duct tape. All in the name to protect the integrity of the skate boot. Skates are personal things, and they are really the one thing a skater just can’t swap out for another player’s. You can trade knee pads, wrist guards, helmets, but not easily, skates. They are precious things. They are very individual to how you skate. Do you want the trucks tighter or looser? What type of plates, wheels, bearings? So much thought goes into this. For myself, I skate on a Riedell hockey skate boot. What that means, is that I have a hard toe and high ankle support with padding around heel and ankle. They look like work boots. But I’ve had these boots some twenty years. I love these boots. They are comfortable. And though hockey isn’t quite as hard on the toes as derby, I have still lost a lot of leather that covered the hard plastic shell over the years. I have also cracked the plastic on one boot and was using duct tape, usually red, to keep it all together. It really wasn’t the prettiest thing, but it worked and served its purpose. I didn’t care really. And yet, I cleaned my bearings and wheels often, changed laces out when they became worn. Why didn’t I protect my toes? To my mind, it just wasn’t integral to the act of skating. That was fine for me for many years. Then I found myself skating on the converted tennis court rink – usually alone – so I wasn’t causing any more damage to my already damaged boot. However when someone did happen to come up and we get into a bout or scrimmage, that rough concrete of the tennis


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court ate at the leather of the boots. Scraping away at it, day after day, like a dog gnawing on a bone until it’s all gone. Then one day I became tired of skating alone, so I joined a derby team which skated out of a national guard armory. There I found I was leaving a trail on the floor like the yellow brick road telling of where I’d been, only in red. This happened any time I went to a knee in a drill, or as a fall, and dragged a toe. And let me tell you, it was a pain in the ass to clean up or the team would be charged for it by the facility they used. Not wanting to cause undue trouble for my team, I needed options. So started to do some research on what was out there. I noticed one of my teammates had knitted toe guards, in the design of Wonder Woman. I thought that was kinda cool, but I am in no way that crafty. Another had leather toe guards they had purchased of Batman and Robin. Again, cool, but I wasn’t sure I wanted leather over leather over plastic on my boot. These are a great way to show your own unique personality and creativity. These I found online for around $20 to $35 from several different sites. The cheapest I found at $9. But those were very basic and very plain. I grew up in a rink, pretty much a rink rat, but also a hockey player and so a little snobbish in my attitude toward skates. I hated, and still despise, the brown rental skates, which had the ugly plastic orange toe guards, that protected them from the vagueries of beginning skaters. That plastic toe guard was out of the question. Wasn’t going to do it. Nope, not going there. And yes, I know they have the jammers toe protectors, which are plastic, but those just wouldn’t fit on my style of boot anyway. Those run around $20. A friend of mine – not a skater – wanted to protect his hunting boots and he tried on them something called Tuff Toe. It cost him about $20 dollars and can be found at most stores. I liked the idea of that as you could get the color to match if that color happened to be brown or black. Lucky my boots were one of those two colors. It had to be dripped on and then left to set for a half hour. It was much better than the duct tape I had been using up to that point, but I hadn’t seen

anyone else use it and wasn’t sure how long it would last or if I would need to reapply the stuff every six months or a year. I was determined to find something. It had become my quest. Like searching for the magical sword that would end the reign of the evil wizard king. Except, not nearly so exciting. Lastly, I called up our local LineX dealer. They sprayed it on in one day and I picked it up in time to take them to national team tryouts (for hockey again). It cost me about $25 dollars, so it might be one of the more expensive options but it has lasted now over six months of constant use with very little wear and tear. It is very light, it looks good with the rest of the boot leather. So much better than it was. (but most everything looks better than duct tape toes.) Peeling off the duct tape, it left strips of leather clinging to it, with large sections entirely missing, showing the hard plastic toe protector in an ugly yellow. And on one boot, the

plastic had a large circular crack, a left over from a particularly hard slap shot it blocked. It did its job and protected my precious toes. The LineX people had a little trouble covering that part, but they did a good job and I can barely tell where that crack is. To sum up, if you are looking for some way to protect your boots, there are several options out there: The knitted kit; The leather protector; The plastic throwback; The goo for the few; The finer liner; The spray-on protectron. So think about what you want and get about saving your skates from unwanted damage and just the natural wear and tear that comes from being a roller derby player. | Fall 2017


roller derby can change the world the WFTDA’s partnership with UN women

Jennifer M. Ramos


We Believe: Empowerment, Equality through Roller Derby Attendees of the Roller Derby World Summit earlier this year may have been first to hear the stunning announcement of the UN Women’s partnership with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, but since then, even more exciting details of this initiative have come out on social media and at the 2017 WFTDA Playoffs, including how the WFTDA community can get involved. One of the biggest ways in which roller derby skaters, officials, volunteers and fans can participate in this historic partnership is through


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We Believe, the WFTDA’s international giving program. The objective of We Believe is to raise $15,000 for UN Women’s One Win Leads to Another movement, which aims to empower women and girls through sport. Through generous donations from the community, we are already closer to helping UN Women achieve gender equality worldwide – but there’s still so far to go. A portion of these donations will cover the costs of the first-ever WFTDA Minimum Skills Clinic for young women in Brazil, which will use basic roller derby skills to develop confidence in new skaters, in tandem

with the One Win Leads to Another program. What drove this unique partnership? UN Women believes that women in sport defy gender stereotypes and that the WFTDA embodies the program’s spirit of community and gender equality. We couldn’t agree more! Want to show that you believe roller derby can change the world? Grab our exclusive, limited edition t-shirt from; all proceeds go towards the One Win Loads to Another program. You’ll also find other donation options on that page, so you can choose the best form of giving for you.

WFTDA champs: are you game? T H E W O M E N ' S F L AT T R A C K D E R B Y A S S O C I AT I O N

was only accessible to U.S. viewers through a cable or internet subscription with online access to ESPN3. But this year, we are excited to have the opportunity to work with ESPN2, allowing us to put our 2017 Championship game in front of the most viewers possible, on national television in the U.S. This means that for the first time ever, women’s flat track roller derby will be on network television! Even with this groundbreaking development, we understand if you’d still rather see the games in person. Tickets are still on sale, with multiple VIP, single day and three-day options available for purchase. Go to for more pricing details!

Mark Niemelä

Quick ‘N’ Derby

The top twelve teams from the Division 1 Playoffs have punched their tickets to the 2017 International WFTDA Championships taking place Nov. 3-5 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hosted by Philly Roller Derby, the 2017 Champs will deliver the highest level gameplay and the most competitive matchups, with top-finishing teams from the three 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs (Seattle, Malmö and Dallas) each vying for the Hydra Trophy. The Crime City Rollers of Malmö, Sweden are making their first appearance at Champs, having finished their hometown Playoffs in fourth place. They mark only the second European team to qualify for Champs (first would be the London Rollergirls, who overtook Crime City in Malmö for third place) and the firstever team from Sweden. With up-andcoming contenders like Crime City mixed with veteran rivalries, this year’s games are going to push the boundaries of athleticism even further in the sport, making bracket predictions more difficult than ever before. Another exciting advancement this year is in broadcast. In 2015 and 2016, the WFTDA worked with ESPN’s online streaming channel, ESPN3, to put the entirety of Championships Sunday on the ESPN App in the U.S., which Ben Ma | Fall 2017


COLOR JAM ROLLER DERBY COLORING BOOK A coloring book for the most colorful sport

a new generation of speedy gonzaleses HERMIONE DANGER, SHEFFIELD STEEL ROLLERGIRLS

For juniors, 27 in 5 seems like a Herculean task. After all, trained adults find it hard, and half of these kids will only be stepping onto their little quad skates for the first time. This is where JRDA (Junior Roller Derby Association) comes in. Juniors still have to do laps, but on a two minute scale. Each of the three levels in junior derby has a different number of laps to complete its minimum skills. Level Ones do 9 in 2, which equates to approximately 22 in 5. Level Twos do 11 in 2, which works out to 27 in 5. Level Three skaters do 13 in 2, which means that the next generation of skaters are working up to 32 in 5. Some of the junior skaters across


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the world’s junior leagues will be achieving Level Three at twelve years old, just like my sister did. This is a step forward in derby which will allow these little skaters to become stronger, better, and faster. I know for a fact that it also helps massively with achieving 27 in 5. My sister and I just skated our 27 in 5s within weeks of each other, and she’s years away from being able to skate in an adult league. I managed it after two years of skating in a junior league, and I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish it as soon as I did without the graduated levels of junior derby. This isn’t to say that the graduated levels are everything. The first time I tried 27 in 5, I got 13. That was a huge blow. However, I couldn’t do a crossover to save my life, and my stance made me look like I was a baby giraffe: wobbly and weak at the knees. This changed over the years, and I got over my fear of falling sideways and hurting myself doing crossovers. The juniors I skated with learned crossovers within weeks of starting training – not that they all succeeded in doing them consistently, but they now had the tools and muscle memory to continue. If I’d started learning those things as early, I probably wouldn’t have put up a mental block of fear up, and would be confident in crossovers sooner.

Another important thing in how junior skaters skate is just how resilient they are. I’ve seen skaters pushing themselves to the absolute limit in their laps, and ten minutes later, want to go again. In my junior league, our fantastic coaches nurtured this resiliency right from the start. A skater falls over? That’s a sign of progress! A skater doesn’t quite get their laps? They were so close that next time they are almost sure to get it! Our coaches supported our desires to push ourselves with our laps, but let us know that it was okay not to get it right. This kind of support system really helped every single junior skater I skated with, and I’m confident that it led to many of our skaters performing better, and attaining their laps. The way that the JRDA has structured junior derby laps-graduated laps for the different levels-allows said skaters to gain a sense of confidence and drive them to shoot for the next level. With me, I knew that if I got to Level Three, I would be able to compete in full contact jams with my derby sister and my little sister, and that motivated me to skate better and faster. That then laid the foundation for my 27 in 5. Achieving my laps was one of my proudest derby moments, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that exhausted, sweat soaked, jubilous moment for the rest of my life.

Sean Hale

As almost every derby skater knows, 27 in 5 is one of the most difficult parts of minimum skills. For me, it took three years from the time I started training for it, and it was a pretty rough journey. The way I had been skating was all wrong, and my stance was wrong. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t do crossovers! | Fall 2017


belonging, and its barriers B O B U S M A X I M U S, S H E F F I E L D S T E E L R O L L E R G I R L S

ridiculous it is, the more inclusive it becomes. Away from the Right now, I’m writing up my PhD thesis on roller derby, and team, it is the more abstract humor I miss. There is a joy in although I’m writing about an MRDA team, I suspect that the the wordplay and an undertone of kindness that suggests issues I am discussing and the lessons I am learning are members really do care about each other. applicable to the broader community. You’ll have to wait another year for the finished piece if you teamly? want to decide for yourself, but before In my league, a sense of collegiality, best People want to be an that happens, I want to share a few summed up as ‘teamliness’, is key. There observations loosely connected with my integral part of a is a sense of fun and camaraderie, and last article. league, but belonging sometimes it feels like it’s just people In the Spring issue, I wrote about the having a laugh. Friendships thrive. There isn’t really something importance of supporting volunteers. I are moments where the whole team said they should be appreciated and people have or feel, comes together, such as in the celebrated, but of course, this is how all but something they do. experience of ‘tours’: those weekend trips members of a league should be treated, to play teams in Europe together help and so I want to think about how we can develop a sense of closeness like no local game does. You ensure that everyone finds their place in roller derby. have to be there to understand how powerful the experience Belonging is important. People want to be an integral part of can be. If you have the means of funding such a trip, and a league, but belonging isn’t really something people have can include as many league members as possible, whether or feel, but something they do. Our actions create our social as skaters, officials, or supporters, the intangible gains in world, and it takes time to develop a feel for the game. a sense of belonging can repay the cost many times over. Roller derby prides itself on being inclusive. As a concept, this needs unpacking further. What does inclusivity look like, accepting? and is it even possible? Being accepting and being inclusive are often read as synonyms – inclusivity is not seen as being about ticking sharing? boxes. In practice, this means that my league is very Communities thrive on shared language, but jargon heavy inclusive when it comes to gender, holding the nontalk, and in-depth discussions of past glories exclude discrimination policy of the MRDA close to its heart. The very newcomers and create a cliquey atmosphere. Light-hearted best face of my banter works better league is shown to build ties and The very best face of my league is shown through the through the bond a team. In my collective collective acceptance of other’s oddities and quirks, of league, it’s often acceptance of sexualized, though other’s identities, and ways of being in the world. other’s oddities not homophobic or and quirks, of misogynistic. Even other’s identities, and ways of being in the world. Roller so, when the banter revolves around ridicule and mockery, derby people can be a strange bunch, and this recognition it still excludes those who can’t ‘take’ it or ‘do’ it well. gives members a space where they can be themselves. Successful banter equals fitting in, but to be unsuccessful Yet, this notion of inclusivity can hide the way the league means to be alienated. However, the more eclectic and


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joe mac

doesn’t really know how to reach other marginalized groups, and the way that sometimes these oddities and quirks can be damaging to other people, and the determination to include everyone, in practice, excludes many. Every team has one – a member who just can’t seem to behave well, but they are an amazing skater, and excellent coach. So, we let them stay, because we want to understand and accept them for who they are: we want to be inclusive. But sometimes, keeping such people can drive others away. Keeping such people can affect the ethos of a team, and if it becomes a less than welcoming space, people will leave. Good people. It is a thorny issue, and acceptance has its limits.

inclusive? Though there are imperfections, my league does a lot of things right and is definitely moving in a positive direction, in much the same way as the community as a whole: we are sharing, teamly, and accepting. Too often though, I hear that the roller derby community is too self-congratulating and keen to dismiss aspects of inclusivity and belonging as unimportant, or incompatible with other goals; that we perhaps shouldn’t seek to include everyone, and instead focus on being a serious, professional sport. Why can’t we be serious and inclusive? Why remake ourselves in the image of mainstream sport? Why not do something new? | Fall 2017


confessions of a smash-a-holic A N G R Y T O P A Z , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S

After seven years, four rule sets and two leagues, this roller derby girl is ready for MORE! Truly, I have found the LOVE OF MY LIFE and the perfect anger management therapy on the track! I’ve met the best people and had THE MOST FUN! I started roller derby about seven years ago. I saw “Whip It” and thought “Hey! I could skate around and use my body as a wrecking ball! Let’s do this!!” Being a child in the 80’s I had grown up on roller skates! I googled local leagues and found two near me. I went to an orientation for one league and got a feel for the type of skills they would be looking for at tryouts. Then I contacted Penn Jersey Roller Derby and at the time no tryouts were needed, just show up to practice and see if you want to join. Their laid back approach felt like home to me, they were willing to take everyone and anyone. I showed up to watch my first practice so nervous and excited, the first person I met was also new, we both kind of looked at each other with the same nervous panicked look of “where should I go?!” Eventually other people showed up and we were introduced to a few skaters (the liaison was on vacation) who sat with us and explained a little about what was going on. We watched in awe as they paced and eventually hit each other. I may have had the look of a kid on Christmas morning staring at a pile of presents. Next open practice I was going to give it a go!


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I skated my first few practices on PBs or rental skates. I thought I was getting around pretty well... so much so that I asked my very scary, very amazing, coach *Judy “the Queen of Mean” Sowinski if I could skate in the rookie game that was less than a month away. I wanted to smash into other people and have them smash into me so bad! I had many new teammates encourage me and help train me so I could try and get in on that rookie game! (*For real look up footage of her on youtube she was no joke!) I got to skate the rookie game!! It was in this first rookie game that I learned I was a big bad penalty machine (oops). It was a fast and exciting flat track game! In my excitement maybe I wasn’t as concerned with rules as much as smashing into people, so I spent quite a bit of time in the penalty box. Thankfully we were skating OSDA which is a little more forgiving than other rule sets (at least from what I recall). I was super excited to be a part of my very first league PJRD! Little did I know things were about to get even more fast and furious – they were about to acquire a banked track! A BANKED TRACK! Saying “banked track” to flat track skaters usually elicits a “No thank you.” Occasionally someone will express interest but for most they seem to think the banked track will eat them alive. Which I just never thought. When I first stepped on the banked

track, not even thinking about it being scary, I was just excited. Of course I was new to skating and found pretty much everything exciting! “Oh your pads smell like death! That is EXCITING!” “Oh you have green skate laces, SO NEAT!” I didn’t truly realize how amazing and rare skating on a banked track is until I moved away from it. Not only had I picked a super fun co-ed league with old school derby coaches (Arnold “Skip” Schoen, and eventually Little Richard Brown) BUT we were going banked! Our coaches, Judy and Skip, had us practice falling so much I was pretty convinced that banked tracks were just for falling! We also practiced jumping and the biggest and best thing to practice, five striding in a pace line. Oh man, there is nothing quite like the sound of a group of skaters taking the banked track in a pace line. Sweet rolling thunderous sound! I can still hear it if I listen real hard! When we started out we skated OSDA on the banked track, then we went to MADE, and eventually to RDCL. RDCL was such a massive change for us, I didn’t really quite get into the groove of RDCL before I moved. But those She Devils sure did! Now I skate WFTDA with Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (#blackandredtillimdead) and frankly I find the flat track more intimidating than I ever found the banked track to be. I’m still learning that gliding gets you nowhere on the flat track. Also there is no rail to take anyone in to

King Taco Photography

(sad). Though I miss the banked track I am super thankful I had the chance to skate on it for almost five years. I’m also super excited about my new skating home, RMRG have welcomed me with open arms and are very patient with my gliding feet. Yeah after

all these years I still pretty much find most everything about roller derby to be exciting. I guess that means it’s true love! At the end of the day what is my point here? My point is try it all! Get excited, if you have the chance to

skate banked DO IT! If you have the chance to try a new rule set DO IT! If you have the chance to smell your fellow skaters pads... OK, don’t do that. Branch out, try new things, get scared, get better, after all I’m pretty sure that’s what derby is all about! | Fall 2017



Growing up in the ‘80s, there were very few female role models when it came to contact sports. There was the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.), which I certainly had a borderline unhealthy obsession with, but I knew it was staged. Other than that, there were a few non-contact sports that allowed women to participate on a professional level like soccer, golf, gymnastics or tennis. Yawn. I was not interested in what I considered boring, passive athletic roles reserved for women and girls. As a tomboy and little sister who idolworshipped her older brother growing up; I played football, wrestling, and other rough and tumble type games, so I knew that girls were just as tough as boys. In college and afterwards, while working as a freelance photographer for various newspapers and publications, I was sent on assignments to shoot a variety of sporting events: basketball, gymnastics, softball, soccer, football, baseball, diving, golf, ice hockey, swimming, curling, gymnastics and professional skateboarding. I noticed that women were still grossly underrepresented in all athletics, but especially in contact sports. Women’s athletics were not covered by media outlets as frequently as the men’s events, either. It was by pure chance that I stumbled on to the Arizona Roller Derby League in 2004 and photographed my first bout soon after. I felt like


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I had found my very own island of misfit toys. The show was a perfect balance of athleticism, entertainment and irony with a pinch of rock and roll thrown in for good measure. The camaraderie, exhibitionism, and anything goes atmosphere of the bouts resulted in a riot girllike subculture of its own and I loved every fucking minute of it. So much in fact, that I spent the next five and a half years shooting locally and nationally as the Staff Photographer of the Arizona Roller Derby League, earning myself the derby name, Triggerhappy. I was inspired by the confident women of all ages, shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds at each bout as they donned their alter egos, sexy outfits, and snarky names for the night. Each and every bout was different and crazy in its own way, with live music and kitschy entertainment. The Halloween bouts were always my favorite thanks to the outrageous costumes from both skaters and attendees alike. Fundraising events and award ceremonies were also fun to shoot, often involving a whole lot of booze and a little bit of rowdiness. Any given night’s activities included kissing booths, exhibition bouts or other ridiculous money raising antics such as $5 ping pong paddle spankings from a “real life” derby girl. As a photographer in that world, you had to be able to keep up with the skaters, so I not only had to condition my creative eye, but my liver too.

It was frustrating and challenging at first to get the shots I wanted, after all at DIY events, one tends to get DIY lighting, which is crappy at best. In addition to terrible lighting, I had to adjust my way of thinking as a photographer to keep up with the sport’s extremely fast pace, unpredictability, and the high energy of the crowds at the bouts in order to get photographs that were not only interesting to look at, but were actually in focus. Once I nailed the technical aspect of it, I was able to focus on the thing that fascinated me the most about roller derby, the subculture that spawned from it. The raw, unpredictable atmosphere of the bouts were intoxicating for a photographer like me. I relished in the live music, freak shows, and crowd-pleasing antics that took place during each bout’s halftime breaks; women spinning wheels that determined the fate of the one who held the most penalties for the first half of the bout; will it be arm wrestling for an extra point, a 3legged skate, or a roll down pink cheek boulevard? You just never knew what you were going to get and that is what kept me going back week after week for so many years. These women were breaking societal norms in the world of sports, creating a subculture where, finally, women were the rock stars, the ones to be worshipped like gods. They were also the ones making and breaking the rules. They carried themselves with such confidence and a powerful sense of self; like they would annihilate anything and everything that stood in their way. I admired them, hell, I wanted to be them.

A few years in, after I had proven my loyalty as Staff Photographer of AZRD, I was invited to photograph out of state bouts with the Tent City Terrors, the league’s travel team. I jumped at the chance to join my favorite skaters and ended up traveling to a variety of destinations with my league including the first RollerCon Convention in Las Vegas and the first Dust Devil Tournament in Tucson, Arizona, as well as bouts in Denver, Colorado and Raleigh, North Carolina. Although it’s a full-time job, roller derby photography is not a paying one. As my career and family began to demand more of my time, I realized that I could no longer keep up with the countless hours one has to spend volunteering their time, energy, and skills to put on the scrimmages, tournaments, conventions, bouts, after-parties, and fundraisers to keep it all going. I retired as Staff Photographer from AZRD in 2010 as the sport began to change course. The exhibitionist era of the roller derby revival had ended and so had the magic of shooting it, at least for me. The gritty, underground, punk rock atmosphere and the debauchery had begun to fade into a renewed focus on athleticism. Regardless of how the sport has evolved, I will always be a fan of the bad ass women (and men) who revitalized the sport in the early 2000’s and the ones that are keeping the camaraderie, the passion and the savage spirit of roller derby alive today. | Fall 2017


my name is dawn of the shred and I’m an alcoholic D A W N O F T H E S H R E D, T R E A S U R E V A L L E Y R O L L E R D E R B Y

D2 MVP Everything is black. I open my eyes and gaze into Garber’s baby blues, strained with concern. My face hurts. Some of my teammates huddle around. I think one or two crack jokes. Others just want to get back to the hotel. Nope, I didn’t just take a good hit while doing an amazing job jamming for my team. I’m drunk. I was horsing around with our bench coach, Garber, near the Duluth Sports Center after the D2 tournament. Giving hip checks and playful roughhousing. I let my guard down. She sneaks up behind me and pops me with her hips. I go flying chin-first into tile steps leading up to the next walk way. Things go dark. I come to at the sound of her voice, “Ohshit, ohshit, ohshit.” Her wife remarks, “Garber, you killed Shred.” My eyelids are heavy from a bonafide knockout, 10.6% porters, and the four bourbons I had alone in my room directly after our last game. Sitting on the hotel bed, watching the rain come down, enjoying the solitude and relief the whole thing is over. Gaber says, “Are you okay? I’m so sorry, Shred.” “Yeah, I’m ok,” I slur. I’m pissed. How dare she attack me like that? She’s got some size on me. I’m also embarrassed. This is my stupid drunk fault and now my face is all messed up. AGAIN. I need to quit drinking. I’m such a fuck up. She helps me to my feet. We walk to the hotel. We don’t speak. I just want to die. I was the first athlete to receive a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Division 2 Most Valuable Player award. I joke around that I’m kind of a big deal. I don’t care to mention that I have a drinking problem. This national tournament where I smashed my face on some steps is a year later, in Duluth, Minnesota. My picture is everywhere. On billboards, fliers in every restaurant, on the

Danforth Johnson


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cover of the tournament program, on posters for sale. Not only am I the first WFTDA D2 MVP ever, I’m literally a poster child of the WFTDA. I don’t know how to handle it. So I handle it the way I handle everything. I get drunk. There’s a lot to live up to here. Last year, my little team of spunky Idahoans got lucky because higher-ranked teams declined the invitation, and we got to go to the first D2 tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. We weren’t supposed to be there and came in as the long-shot bottom seed. We left with 3rd place bronzes around our necks. We were eight points from winning 2nd place. We were called the Cinderella story. That whole weekend, I thought about my gut-wrenching nerves and drinking. When we blew out our first game and were walking from the venue to the Holiday Inn, I stared up at their circular rotating bar on the top floor and thought, soon, My Friend. Soon this will all be over and I’ll be drinking up there. While we watched the last game and waited for the medal ceremony, I started drinking beer. I clarified with coach that was okay as long as we didn’t have beers in our hands during the ceremony. No Coors tallboys while getting medals. Check. I hadn’t had a drink in a month and it showed in my game play. Bloody Mary started announcing the MVP. Something like, “...someone who exemplifies the WFTDA spirit of strength, good sportsmanship, athletic... This skater is from Treasure Valley...” My teammates looked at me. I hid behind Udaho’s tall frame. Bloody Mary said my name. My stomach dropped hard. Everything went fuzzy and felt vibrating. My teammates surrounded me with hugs. I felt nothing. My mouth went dry. Everything felt weird. I put my shoulders back and floated towards Bloody Mary as if I was confident. I think she hugged me but I don’t really remember. People put all

kinds of stuff in my hands, a shimmering metallic Reidell boot, T-shirts, a sign maybe? Photos were taken. My team floated away for photos with the other winning teams. Confetti fell from cannons. People told me to put this shirt on over my jersey, now take it off and put on this one, take a picture with this boot, now give it to me, I need it back. They told me the MVP plaques aren’t ready yet, they will be mailed. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted my team. I slinked back for more group photos. As promised, I got drunk that night. We started partying in the rotating bar. I got buzzed and sat in the dark recesses of the coat closet to call my husband. My constant supporter. My biggest fan. While on the phone, I missed the twerk rodeo with Nikki Nightstick from Jet City and my fellow jammer, Demolition Barbie. The party trickled down to our rooms where we made margaritas with the blender we brought to make Jammer Juice (secret recipe that makes jammers fly), and then trickled down further to outside the lobby at the request of management. I was plastered by then. Had a conversation with some dude about bull riding, then I suddenly got quiet. Everything was fine until it wasn’t. I wandered off by myself and sat on a curb. Stared at the moon with tears streaming down. Scarlet Danger, who almost never drinks, sat down sober next to me and asked, “Would you like me to take you to your room?” I said yes. I didn’t know why I was sobbing. Cut back to my smashed face in Duluth. It’s really not noticeable. I have this bruised goose egg on the bottom of my chin, and it hurts like a sonofabitch. My team deposits me in my hotel room with ice and Mia Wallups as my babysitter. They go to the after party. I sit there for a while feeling sorry for myself. After a while, I fix a bourbon with ice to ease the pain. I get a text from Raggedy Ann-ihilation: You want to come to the after party? I’ll come get you. I don’t tell Mia about this. I wait until Raggedy tells me she’s in the lobby. I jump up and say, “I’m goin’ to party, see ya.” Mia says, “That’s not a good idea. Please don’t do that.” I think I’m so funny and cute. I keep eye contact with her as I’m shutting the door…until there is just enough of an opening for my eyeball. The door clicks. Raggedy leads me to the party. I think everyone is looking at me. They Know! Boobie Houser saddles up next to me and eases my anxiety. We have a nice time. My face hurts. this is our year The start of 2015. We are going to do better this year. In Duluth, we finished worse than our seed. When we filed into the hotel to check into the tournament, one of the Detroit players did a little prancy princess dance and said, “Oooh look, it’s the Cinderella team.” But there was no glass slipper for us in Duluth. So it’s 2015, we’re going to do better. Our first sanctioned play is at Dust Devil in Tucson. I have a whirlwind trip of family obligation in California and work in Las Vegas beforehand.

I often go to Vegas for work. At night, I buy a series of Tecate tallboys and walk the strip. I don’t gamble, I don’t hang at clubs, I walk the strip as far as I can go, and drink. Sometimes I look at $2,500 shoes and $100,000 watches while sipping on a lukewarm lager in a paper bag. On this trip, I’m staying on the South Side... at Hooters, flashes of 2010 Rollercon snap at my brain. I am alone in this cruise ship of a casino that always smells a little bit like shit, longing for the buzz of derby energy. My work week is over. Time to move hotels and start my derby week. Ana Highway to Hell has a room booked at the Riviera, on the North Side. She will arrive about 2am with a packed car of skaters. I start walking north. It’s about three miles. I tell myself not to drink too much. When I arrive at the Riviera, I’m drunk. I try to check in under Ana’s name. I can’t spell it. It’s six letters. I’m adding about five extra consonants and vowels each. The desk clerk knows I’m fucked. I regroup on a lounge chair by the pool. More electric vibrations of Rollercon echo in my mind, visualizing the pool packed with tattooed beautiful confident women. Now it’s just me and palm trees and the looming white facade of the historic Riviera. I pull my shit together. I get the room worked out with Ana on the phone while flying 100 miles-per-hour down Highway 93 in the middle-of-nowhere-Nevada. Two days later, I’m winded and lumbering around the track at Dust Devil. My face is red and swollen, I don’t sweat. I lay across the ample behinds of blockers: Can I just rest here a moment? Sure, they say. It’s the heat I say. My blood is too thick for Arizona, thinking I’m real cool like Hunter S. Thompson. But really, I’m just an asshole. We all go to the after party. My teammates dance. I hold up at the bar, gulping down IPAs. I’m in the tunnel, I love it here, in the quiet, as pandemonium swirls around with colorful lights, bumping music, and outrageous women. A gal slides up next to me and says, “Are you Dawn of the Shred? From Treasure Valley? D2 MVP?” How do people remember this shit? I wonder. “Yeah.” I slur. “Well, I just wanted you to know that me and my team are gunning for you. Watch out.” She disappears from my tunnel. I stand rigid, hands cupping a cold pint glass. I am full of self loathing and anger at this person who stuck her ugly face in mine and ruined my favorite place of drunken oblivion. I peek around. They’re gone. I down my beer and get another. The week before our home season kicks off, I’m drunk on white wine and whiskey after a long day of housework. It’s now the magic hour when dust glitters gold and the lawn mowers go silent. I am excited to pour another wine and sit on my back porch and solve the world’s problems with the power of my booze-soaked mind. On the way, I ram my bare foot into the breakfast bar in the kitchen, and unleash a colorful string of fucking motherfuckers. I limp outside and sit. Goddamn that hurts, but not too bad because I’m beyond drunk. I wake up the next day, Memorial Day, and sit on my fake lawn. It’s | Fall 2017


my magic carpet because when I am anxious, I get on my turf and feel better. I sit looking at my gnarly middle toe, silently asking, “Are you broken?” It stares back at me with the top knuckle shooting out on the wrong direction. I think to myself, “You stupid dumb asshole, you broke your toe because you were drunk on a Sunday afternoon walking through your house.” The Doc in the Box confirms it’s broken. I think I can still play with a broken toe. Just wrap all the toes together and the rigidness of the skate boot will keep it stable. Ballerinas dance on broken toes all the time. I reluctantly miss our season opener. I watch my team defeat the Oly Rollers, something I’ve always wanted to do. A week later, we go to Milwaukee for Brewhaha. My dad flies out from Maine to watch me play. I still think I can play roller derby with a broken bone. My dad settles into his seat in the auditorium. My second jam, I juke and my foot refuses to move, sending a blast of white energy up my body. Pony tails are sailing in my direction, I feel their hips knocking against mine, I stupidly remain upright. I pass the star and see little Ana Highway to Hell taking off with my helmet cover. The jam is over and I sit at the deep end of the bench for the rest of the weekend. I judge my teammates’ behavior. I get to know the deep end of the bench: the one or two jam players and the penalty heavy stars. I see rampant disrespect. I am disgusted with myself and my team. It’s an ugly time. I see my dad in the stands and feel bad he came all this way to spend a weekend watching me sit because I broke a toe walking through my house drunk, and then immediately push that feeling away. home season Back at home, I miss playing almost all of the home season. About a month before D2, my broken toe welds itself together and I get to play the next game. My first jam, I get my feet underneath me, lightly putting my hands on hips to ground myself. I feel opponents push into me as I reach for daylight between their large frames. I am here. I am playing roller derby. I know how to do this. Second jam, I am flying on the rush of speed, grace, and agility. My body takes over for me. I come around the track to a four wall waiting for me. The inside blocker is looking outside. I jump the apex. The blocker easily knocks me out of the air with all her large mass. I fall to the cement awkwardly and smash my left hip. My leg goes numb. I am injured again. Our sports medicine specialist tells me to hold the hockey barrier and swing my leg. I face the crowd. There is a bourbon cocktail set on the barrier, I can smell it. The owner of it says, “Hey, while you’re doing that, can you tell me what’s going on?”


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“Sure, if you let me down the rest of that cocktail,” I respond. He gladly holds it up to me. “I’m just kidding,” I say. I am not really. I let everyone know I am dunzo for the night. After the game, the specialist recommends stretching and stationary biking. I down three double bourbons instead and then get my “real” beverage for the next bout, a 20 oz IPA. I go numb. Nothing hurts. When it’s time to go, I put my helmet on backwards and head out for the bike ride home. Friends turn my helmet around and point me in the right direction. I take another break from skating. More time to sit on my fake lawn and drink. D2 is three weeks away, but forget it. Time off skates has been too long. Giant blockers who have been conditioning for months will smash me to pieces. When you have the fear, you are almost guaranteed to get hurt. We go to Cleveland. We perform terribly. I sit in turn three with a bum leg and lots of aggression. We use the buddy system at tournaments. No one goes anywhere alone. My team wants to watch the games, I want to go drink. I coax an upset teammate into walking to the hotel with me. She’s pissed she hasn’t played yet. As soon as we each shut the doors to our rooms, mine opens again, and I slip out to the hotel bar where I hide behind a pillar. I stare at the heavy drapes behind the hotel bar, watching closedcaption daytime TV, icy bourbon in hand, and I recognize my textbook alcoholic behavior. I lied to go drink. I ceased participating in an activity that used to be so important to me to go drink. I refused to be present for my team at a crucial event. Instead of exhibiting strong command of derby on the national stage, I am sitting at a bar watching talk shows, something any asshole can do on any day. I go numb and float back to my room for a nap. My team comes in last place. I cry, hating myself for not contributing, and resenting my team for not taking commitment seriously. That passes quickly and now it’s okay to drink publicly. I tell myself not to drink too much. We don’t want a repeat of Duluth! Hours later, my team is prepping to watch the championship game and then party. They put on shiny spandex bodysuits and leotards. My costume is a ref stripe leotard with snaps in the crotch clasped by a prayer because the thing is made for a pubescent. I’m at the edge of clarity, looking into the abyss of oblivion... propped up on the hotel bed, bourbon in my hand. Now sitting with my team at the historic Cleveland Auditorium, Coach slips me another beer. He is drunk. He only gets drunk at champs. I know I shouldn’t, that I’m well past inebriated, but I pop it open with a thank you. I tell Demolition Barbie I gotta pee. When I emerge from the

bathroom, snap-crotch slightly damp, I look both ways down the mezzanine hallway. I’m lost. I wander around with the leotard creeping up, trying doors, seeing auditorium lights and hearing the whistles of derby, but I can’t find my team. A bad dream. When I finally slump next to Barbie she says, “Shred, you’ve been gone so long, where did you go?” I roll my eyes and sigh, “I have no idea.” As if I’m too good for this place. Barbie knew I was well on my way and I think tried to signal Coach not to give me any more beer. The after party is blacked out. We are almost back to our rooms. In the hotel hallway, I sneak up to Garber and steal something out of her hand and run. I laugh looking back at her pale blue eyes. I don’t see the pillar jutting out. I hit it at running speed. When am I going to learn to stop messing with Garber? I think. I don’t think, When am I going to stop getting blackout drunk? My forehead swells and turns purple. I stare at myself in our hotel bathroom. The ghostly glow of the fluorescent light reflects off the mirror and clean bright white countertops. My eyes are dead. Cold water runs down the drain, and I stare at my own unsympathetic cold dead eyes. After 5 minutes or 30 minutes, who knows, Fury lightly taps on the door, “Shhhrrreead,” she says in a quiet voice. “You okay?” “No, I’m not okay,” I say without emotion, staring at the piece of shit in the mirror. I open the door to face her and say matter-of-fact, “I’ve got to quit drinking.” I don’t. I quit derby instead. I spend the rest of the year getting blackout drunk almost every night. My hip feels weird and I use fear to do nothing but drink. I think I am superior to my teammates who never fully committed to our goal, and I use this leverage to tip the bottle into my glass again and again. All the Christmas gifts I receive are some form of booze. On New Years, I make my teammate weep with a lashing comment, though I don’t know what. That night, alone, I fall against some furniture and onto the concrete basement floor, creating deep bruises on my tailbone that make it hard to sit for a week. drinking like a normal person The day after New Year’s, I quit drinking. I had no intention of quitting, not a New Year’s resolution, just a spontaneous decision. I am miserable. I can’t breathe. I don’t know how to be social. I don’t know how to be alone. Eighty days pass, and I decide I’m going to drink like a normal person. I tell my husband this and if it doesn’t work, then I will go to AA. As usual, he says, “I just want you to be happy my love. Whatever you want to do.” I am more miserable than I was in sobriety. One glass of wine is agony. I talk to it. “Here you are, my one glass of wine.” I take a sip. “Now there’s less than there was before and then there is no more. This is it, my only glass of wine for the day.” I try not to touch it. I try to think about something else. But I cannot, I am obsessed with the only drink I can have and it is all I think about while consuming it, before I drink it, and after the last drop. All I think about is drinking.

sobriety After a couple months, I surrender to going to AA. Memorial Day weekend, I blow it out. I drink as much as I can. I visit my regular spots for favorite drinks. I have a farewell tour of booze. Tuesday comes and I am terrified. Today is the day. I’m going to go to an _____meeting. I can’t even think it. Today is the only day there is a meeting especially for “Atheists, Agnostics and All Others.” This is the only meeting I would try. Maybe it’s full of alcoholic punk rockers and intellectuals who are rad. I sit in the parking lot of the Universalist Unitarian Church. I do not want to be here. Am I really about to become “one of those people” who carries a token and has an Easy Does It bumper sticker? I can barely lift my arms to take the key out of the ignition I’m so scared. My mind argues back and forth, and I am a passive observer. GO! Stay! GO! Fuck it. Don’t be so stupid. Just try it and if you hate it, don’t come back. You’ve thrown yourself into large women who want to hurt you thousands of times; you can do scary things and you can do this. I walk in, cross the threshold. One step, two steps, stop, feet together. I stand unmoving. Someone take me. I look around and see a derby player from years ago making tea. I hadn’t thought about Lucy in years and now here she is stirring a paper cup with a red straw and walking toward me. She welcomes me. We settle into the meeting. I stare at the carpet. White knuckles in clasped hands. I feel eyes on me. I am exploding inside. I am now “One of those people.” I hear little of what is said. They ask if there are any newcomers. I say nothing, I feel eyes on me but do not look up. I ask Lucy a couple of days later to be my sponsor. I tell her I don’t take this lightly and I value her time and I won’t waste it by drinking again. She shrugs. It’s not a big deal she says. It is a big deal to me. I start Step 1. A year has passed. I’ve “Taken Inventory”. I’ve written down lists and lists of horrible and embarrassing shit. I have a notepad I wrote big on the cover Danger: Keep Out, so my husband doesn’t accidentally pick it up for school and find nothing but poison inside. I’ve been to many meetings and worked the steps and now I just keep going through them as needed. I am on Step 12 which is, Help the next poor fucker who walks through the door. | Fall 2017


fun and games at EuroDerbyCon! B O B N O X I O U S, B R O W N P A P E R T I C K E T S PHOTOS BY BOB NOXIOUS

No matter where you’re from, there are a few events every roller derby participant needs to put on their bucket list. The WFTDA Championship Tournament, the MRDA Championship Tournament, Women’s World Cup, Men’s Roller Derby World Cup, and RollerCon. Heck, I’d even throw the JRDA National Championship in there, but I realize the bucket can only be so deep. I’ve had a long and fortunate career where getting to see and work all those events were milestones never dreamt of when I began in late 2004. In recent years, having experienced so much at home, I first became interested in experiencing the Canadian derby scene and with so many events in Europe today, I’ve taken advantage of opportunities afforded me overseas. Like in North America, there are endless tournaments, camps, and events throughout Europe. This last July presented the opportunity to attended the second annual EuroDerbyCon in conjunction with my employer, Brown Paper Tickets, who tickets the event. Bob, what? How could you attend an event whose dates are so close to RollerCon?” I know, right? After all, RollerCon remains at the pinnacle of all derby events! Where else can you mix so much fun with so much skating and learning? Nowhere. RollerCon is a must for the derby addict. It is the kind of trip you literally need a week’s vacation to recover from. I’ve been to all but a few RollerCons and will return for future events. This year, however, I decided if I was going to an event where the weather would be ungodly hot, why not Barcelona and EuroDerbyCon? When planning events with national or international attendees, I cannot stress how important location is. The sport, at times, will put major events in less than optimal locations. Hey, some are a nice surprise. Lincoln, NB, has hosted multiple WFTDA playoffs and the JRDA Championships, among other events, and I love it there. Guelph, ON, and Nelson, BC, were stunningly beautiful cities where I had a great time. However, you’ve a shot at better attendance if it’s a city people really want to spend time in.


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RollerCon is perfect in Vegas, where attendees will return many times. Track Advantage’s choice of Barcelona is another location people will return to multiple times. There is something there for everyone. More on Barcelona in a moment. So, what is EuroDerbyCon? Is it the RollerCon of Europe? Yes and no. Many of the reasons to attend are similar, but the scale and “glitz” that comes with RollerCon and Vegas is something unlikely to be recreated. Like RollerCon, Master Blaster and her crew (many from Bear City who help with EROC) run a smooth show. Having given classes at EROC and experienced the way Bear City can run a logistically challenging event, I wasn’t surprised at how well people are taken care of. Like RollerCon, there were non-stop scrimmages during all three days. Most were either pickup or novelty matchups like Star Trek vs. Star Wars, big booties vs. no booties, along with one, terrific sanctioned game between Barcelona and Madrid, and the usual, fun skate company teams squaring off against each other. Three tracks allowed for scrimmages, officials’ training sessions, as well as non-stop on-skates classes. The names of skate trainers were an impressive mix of Europe’s best, well-known U.S. on-skate trainers, and an Australian I’m pretty sure everyone knows. Trainers included Smarty Pants, Scald Eagle, and Brawn Swanson from the US. Europe was represented by Furrocious (Netherlands), Swede Hurt, Master Blaster (Germany), Ballistic Whistle (UK), Only (Finland), and Maurine Filip (Sweden). The lone Australian was the VRDL’s Lady Trample. Shref (Ireland) and Wonder Zebra conducted officials training while Kirahvi (Finland) handled NSO training. This is not a comprehensive list and not meant to slight anyone. Considering the attendance ranged likely between 400-500 people there was certainly no shortage of heroes in attendance, whether they were training, representing their companies, like Quadzilla and Kid Block, or, like Optimus Grime, just there to have some fun. EuroDerbyCon is really an all on-skates event. There were

a limited number of off-skates classes. That’s an element that was not as developed as RollerCon, but, in reality, the attendees chose to skate for all four days. Scrimmages, a morning beach skate, and even a killer bar, which incorporated a small bowl for skateboarders, that Chicks in Bowls used to show their skills during an afterparty. I’d imagine a few fell asleep at night with skates still on their feet. After-parties were great and well-attended. The highlight was the few hundred of us who laid claim to a beautiful chunk of beach at about 7pm the last day…until sunup the next day. To lie in the ocean at night, staring up at the stars, with a beverage in hand may be the vision of heaven I’d yet to have. Back to the destination... yes... Barcelona is a city that has something for everyone, is beautiful in everything from its beaches to its architecture, had great weather, and is very tourist and pedestrian friendly. Whether your interest is architecture, history, art, sports, laying on the beach, or shopping…it’s all there. Barcelona understands and caters to its burgeoning tourism business which makes getting around easy, provides multi-lingual assistance, and, I’m being truthful, they have outdoor escalators to get up the steep hills around popular tourist sites. It’s easy to travel in and out of... and if you know my personal travel history, that says a lot! This all says a lot about Barcelona. No matter how historic or legendary a city may be, not all embrace tourism the way Barcelona has. It also helps that it’s a city of reasonable size (1.7 million). Unlike larger European and South American cities you “derby” in, often multiple times larger, it’s not expensive to get to where you want and there is generally plenty to see within walking distance of wherever you stay. The main attraction for me, however, was attending

a European event that was designed to be casual. Tournaments are fun, but a lot of work, and you never get the chance to speak to half the people you wanted. Like RollerCon, whether you were watching scrimmages or out with attendees at night, you make new friends, learn more about the European derby world, and, honestly, get to relax and have some fun. I find all derby interesting and fun for different reasons, but Europe is the most interesting environment. Every country or geographic area where derby is played has its own vibe, but the vibe of European derby is special. It’s special because the whole of Europe is becoming its own derby community. That said, it’s very different than any region of the world. Think about it…derby addicts bonding beyond the boundaries of their countries. Friendships and healthy rivalries form over a dozen different cultures! It’s the English with the Spanish, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Finnish... it’s a potpourri of backgrounds, languages, and it’s still growing. If you follow world-wide growth, you know Western Europe’s neighbors are playing as well, are getting their training from Western Europe, and so it continues to bond the entirety of Europe. People-watching can certainly be fun, but “people-listening” is no less interesting. I’ve not a clue what’s being said in side conversations around me, but it’s no less interesting to hear. That could seem intimidating, but I find it fascinating when immersed in a derby community that represents diversity in the truest manner of the word. Most importantly, you’re with derby people. There’s some translating to be done, some accents to get used to, but the derby community is special, no matter where I go. Europeans are fun, inclusive, and even the American dude who simply holds a mic, cracks jokes, steps up the serious action, and screws up names all weekend is treated and kept in contact with. | Fall 2017


1. Black jammer’s sock has changed color. 2. Black blocker #11’s helmet is now yellow. 3. Black pivot’s stripe is missing. 4. Blue blocker #7’s name has changed on jersey. 5. Middle blue blocker’s pants are now black. 6. Blue jammer’s number is missing from her arm. 7. Jammer line is missing.

joe mac


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fiveonfive | issue 37 | Fall 2017  

fiveonfive | issue 37 | Fall 2017