Interview with a Roller Girl

This inaugural post of 2011 is dedicated to everyone who loves Flat Track Roller Derby.  As a woman who longs to don skates, hot pants and an alter ego, I wanted to do an interview with someone who knows the ins & outs of the sport.  Longtime friend, Kim – aka Supersonik! – a REAL LIFE ROLLER GIRL (!!) has graciously agreed to spill her derby beans via this blog.  If you’re curious about roller derby, have wondered what it’s like to be a roller girl, or think you have what it takes to kick ass and be kicked in return, then Friend, this one’s for YOU.

Kim – I mean, Supersonik!  Thanks so much for being a part of The Daily Dish.  Before we get started, first things first.  What team do you play for?  What’s your name & number and do they have any significance?

Photo Credit: Lucas Saugen Photography 2008

I am Supersonik! and I play on the Atomic Bombshells, one of the 4 home teams of the Minnesota RollerGirls. My number is 7 of 9, which comes from the Star Trek Voyager character.  My name Supersonik! was part of an inside joke around the song Elektronik Supersonik by Zlad, a fake rock star from a fake former Eastern Bloc country. Some people get excited thinking that I got my name from the JJ Fad song “Supersonic” and start singing it to me.  In reality, I’m just a big sci-fi dork.  Growing up during the 80s, with my formative years during the Cold War, the Zlad song was extra funny.

What’s your position? Can you briefly describe what that entails?

At home, I play the blocker position. Basically my job is to keep the other team’s
jammer (the person who scores the points for the team) from getting through the pack while clearing a path for our own jammer.  This is where you see a lot of the big hits. When I’ve played on other pick-up type games (i.e. RollerCon) where derby players come from all over the world and theme teams galore spring up, I play all positions.  For instance, I’ve played the pivot (who often sets the pace of the pack and acts as the last line of defense) or the jammer.  These pick-up games have themes, like Star Trek vs Star Wars, Vegetarians vs Meat Eaters (I think we were officially called Lentilly Deranged vs. Meat Curtains), cats vs dogs, diapers vs depends (under 30/ over 30), things like that.  These are just-for-fun games that don’t count for anything.  Last summer, I even played in a clockwise bout!  That was a lot of fun because we always play counterclockwise.

How long have you been involved with roller derby?  How did you get started?  Did you know the rules when you started or did you learn by doing?

I started the second season of our league. That was in 2005.  I’d won tickets to
the first MNRG bout and had remembered watching roller derby on TV when I was a kid, but the event I was at had these girls on roller skates with these
awesome names on their shirts, and I was like, Wow, this seems really cool.  It was NOTHING like what I saw on TV growing up.  For one thing, they were skating on a flat track and not a banked track like in the old days.  And the uniforms were all unique, there was awesome music; it was just a bit mind blowing!  I’d always hated the idea of team sports, partly because the uniforms were so awful.  In roller derby there were women of all shapes and sizes and skating level.  I knew I would be back.  I ran into a friend [at that first bout] and we decided to go roller skating (cuz heck, we both grew up on roller skates) and then came to future bouts.  When we heard they were having tryouts, we both went and made it; it was the hardest 4 hours I have ever been through.

Photo Credit: Peter Worth Dec 2010

I really had no idea what was going on on the track when I first started watching, I just knew that I wanted to be involved. When I started there were only about 5
pages of rules. Leagues around the country (there were only about 10 at the
time) were making it up as they went along. The rules have since been
standardized, as the sport has grown exponentially and playing inter-league games with different rule sets did not really work out too well.  There are over 40
pages of rules now!  And yes, we are tested on them.  If you are interested in learning more about the rules, this is the place to go.  The rules definitely needed to change to ensure the game was safe for all players, with the sorts of scenarios coming up and increased skill level of the skaters.

How much time do you spend practicing? Have you always been a great skater?

We have practice generally 3 times a week, 2 hours at a time.  All-stars have extra
time.  I grew up on ice skates and roller skates so I was okay with making the
transition.

What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained during play?

A few weeks into derby, we learned to do shoulder hits and then were sent out
to play Queen of the Rink [basically a derby version of Last Man Standing, with one remaining player skating in bounds.]  I got hit by a vet skater and landed on my shoulder. The result was a shoulder impingement. I didn’t get it treated right away and it still flares up a bit to this day. In subsequent years we have figured out ways to make it safer for new skaters.  Like I said earlier, in the beginning we were just making things up as we went along, because the re-emergence of the sport was so new.  Today our rookies go through a summer of boot camp to build up skills before they get to be put on a home team. This has been a wonderful way for them to bond and build up the confidence and skills before they get drafted.

Photo Credit: Peter Worth Nov 2010

What’s the best thing about playing roller derby?

I don’t know if I can say just one thing. It’s been awesome for me to learn to
play a team sport, get regular exercise, and meet really fabulous women.  We have a ton of awesome volunteers who keep us running smoothly and fans who support us.  I love the kids who are so excited to be at the bouts.  We now have co-ed junior derby in the twin cities for youngsters interested in becoming future players. It melts my heart when they want my autograph.  It’s strange to have these kids look up to us; I mean I get it, but I never thought I would be in that position.  Playing has also given me the opportunity to develop leadership skills, as our organization is owned and run by the skaters, for the skaters.

What’s the worst thing (if any) about playing roller derby?

I wish we had more public bouts. 🙂

How does your team travel? Are you sponsored? Do you get paid for playing or is it strictly volunteer?

We have a travel team called the All-Stars. They are comprised of skaters from
all 4 home teams. They are the ones that do the inter-league travel and
tournaments that count towards our rankings. This year though, our home teams have had opportunities to travel in the region to play other teams. It’s always a lot of fun to play new and unfamiliar people.  We are very fortunate to have a lot of support with awesome sponsors like PBR.  But we are unpaid athletes. We donate proceeds to charity.

How would you describe yourself? Age? Occupation? What else do you enjoy outside the arena?

I’m 38 and have historically earned my income in the non-profit/government/health care/education sectors. Currently I’m back in school through a great program made to retrain folks in “green” careers.  I’m now involved with starting a Transition Town in my neighborhood, something that’s been really exciting for me.  I tend to have a lot of interests that are all over the board. Off the bat, I can say I’m crazy about cats, organic gardening, low-impact living, science fiction, antiques and traveling. I also like to play tennis and ride my bike, and I want to learn how to sew.

So there you have it, folks.  Roller derby – one of the most empowering sports for women EVER, is growing exponentially and is only getting better.  A sport played by women, with teams owned by the players themselves, who – rather than capitalize on the proceeds, donate it all to charity.  Could it get any better??  My sincere thanks to Supersonik! for allowing me to do this interview, and to both Lucas Saugen & Peter Worth for kindly allowing me to reprint their photographs.

Think you’ve got what it takes?
Watch Supersonik! in MNRG’s 2009 Season Trailer: Bad Mother Rollers.

I AM your own PERSONAL CUPID. I am serious.

A couple days ago I posted about finding a bunch of vintage valentines at the thrift shop, and how I’d been struck by the sweetness of it all. Well – when I bought the whole big whopping sack of them, I suspected there were probably more than I could use, but I hadn’t realized precisely how many until I actually counted them last night. 65. WOW. That’s a lot of valentines. If I use one per year for the next 65 years, I’ll be dead before they are gone.

So I started thinking about My poor dead self – dead. and all those unsent valentines. Sitting unused in some dusty desk – or thrown out in the trash. Or recycled into new 2073 Valentines. And all those choice 1980s sentiments gone.

SO I thought about that for a while last night, while drinking my wine and watching Arrested Development. and noticing how unbelievably adorable Jason Bateman is and how young he looks, like he cannot possibly be 39 because he looks so great and so YOUNG and , and. wow. 65 valentines that is a lot. I could send them all out this year – you know carpe diem, SEIZE THE DAY and all that. It is Valentine’s Day after all and I am ALL ABOUT LOVE. But somehow I think it might be a bad idea for me to send 65 people suggestive cards suggesting that we get it on. What if they all showed up at the same time? That’s a lot of chex mix. Not to mention the fact that my husband is a very jealous man. Just look at him in this year’s Christmas photo.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities for a man to swing an axe living in the city.

So when my blog buddy Hayden commented yesterday asking where she could sign up for some cards – I thought hey, maybe I should do it. Maybe I SHOULD make some Valentine’s Day dreams come true -or at least make somebody’s V-day a whole lot funnier. We need more laughter these days.

Therefore I am officially making the offer to be YOUR OWN PERSONAL CUPID this Valentine’s season. I have 65 “new” (really vintage 1980s) Recycled Paper Products Inc. valentine cards up for grabs. Most of them involve risque humor, not ideal for grandma, kids, or your boss (unless of course you are sleeping with your boss), but some are okay for them too. You can click through and actually view the entire selection HERE. With the help of my husband above, who helped me ever-so-kindly scan them. If you find a card (or cards) that speaks to you, email and let me know. I will be happy to personalize it as instructed by you and mail it to the UNBELIEVABLY LUCKY recipient of your choice, or you can of course opt for poetic license and have me create my own imaginative greeting FOR YOU. Now we’re talking real FUN.

So, in summary, if you would like me to be YOUR OWN PERSONAL CUPID, simply CLICK HERE to select a card, email me with the Title, recipient info, etc. and I will be happy to make your Valentine’s day dreams come true. BUT HURRY – ONLY WHILE LIMITED SUPPLIES LAST!

I AM LEGEND

We saw I Am Legend yesterday. Friday night and the theater was super busy. Tons of activity in the lobby and bar, people having a great time.

Unfortunately tons of activity in the actual theater too. The thumping bass coming from the bar next door echoed like a heartbeat throughout the film. Cell phones going off, people having full-out conversations to the left and right, not to mention the running commentary. The two guys in front of us – it was like living inside their minds. Audible comments can be great. Like when I saw Deuce Bigalow in the theater (YES I SAW DEUCE BIGALOW IN THE THEATER), and Deuce’s dad is plunging out a stopped-up toilet and turns around to accept a little birthday cake from Deuce’s girlfriend, when someone in the audience yelled out, “Hey look! There’s Sh*t on his shirt!” And the whole theater burst out laughing. But talking throughout the whole damn film, letting me know every thought in your head is ANNOYING. And I do have to say, the movie choice should be taken into consideration when deciding whether it’s appropriate to bring young children. I Am Legend is not a kid friendly film. It is terrifying.

THIS is why I don’t go to the theater unless I really really want to see something bad. And although I think Will Smith is great, I didn’t even want to see this. I HATE SCARY MOVIES. I do not watch them, I do not enjoy them. It is a painful experience for me. So, last night, I went for my husband. He just finished the book and has been itching to see it since its release. Having seen the Vincent Price remake of the short story before (Last Man on Earth), I had some idea of what to expect. I knew it would be scary. What I didn’t realize is 1) how different the story would be from the original, and 2) How frightening and disheartening it would actually be. Don’t get me wrong, I Am Legend is a GOOD MOVIE. VERY GOOD. The effects are amazing. Will Smith’s acting is extraordinary. If you like dystopian tales involving the half-dead, abject suffering and painful almost palpable loneliness and despair, then this one’s for you! But if not, don’t do it to yourself. Or save it for DVD, so you can turn it off when you’ve had enough and leave the room. I was traumatized by this movie. I kept my eyes shut or my hands over my face for half the film. The rest of the time I was just sad.

Dirty work.

Just a quick post b/c I have tons to do for Thanksgiving, but last night we watched the FUNNIEST DVD. It’s a show from the Discovery channel called Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe – you’ve probably all seen it a million times, but as we’re cable-less we haven’t exactly been keeping up.

All I can say is if you’re like us and haven’t watched it – GO RENT IT TODAY. The show is crazy and incredibly entertaining. The premise is this semi-cynical every-guy Mike goes around the world living a variety of nasty jobs-for-a-day, most with some sort of poop angle (he seems to either be standing in it, cleaning it up, or regaling us with how bad it stinks). So there’s definitely a huge gross-out factor, but it’s also really educational. We watched Mike & crew tackle a bunch of psycho monkeys in South Africa, work a pig farm (even artificially inseminating a sow), shovel pigeon poo off roofs in NYC, wrangle ostriches, and more. And we still have sewer inspector, chum chopper, and necropsy technician – not to mention casino food recycler – to see! YAY!!!

It really makes you appreciate the people who do these extremely vile, yet totally necessary jobs upon which so many of us depend.. So in honor of tomorrow’s big DAY o’ THANKS, I just want to give a shout out to all the garbage collectors, janitors, bathroom attendants, proctologists, and more who make this world a far better and cleaner place for us all. Here’s to you!

PS: I do NOT recommend watching this show before or after Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you.