Interview by Phoenix Stark
1. First things first, how long have you been involved with derby and what piqued your interest?
I tried out for ECRG’s Bloomin’ Doom (their fresh meat team) in April (I think), 2010. I didn’t even know there was a league in Corvallis at the time. This was post Whip It, so I’d read a couple of articles about the modern derby revival and thought, “Hell, yeah!” Then I saw that they were having an orientation night and then try-outs a couple of weeks later, so I went for it. I was a huge rink rat when I was a kid, but I hadn’t put skates on in probably 20 years when I showed up for their orientation. Then I was driving to Springfield 3 nights a week, when someone told me about Sick Town. I showed up the next week. By then it was pretty clear that the time commitment was going to be a challenge (I had 2 small kids and a new job), so I thought I’d look into officiating as a way to be involved and on skates but with a more relaxed schedule. Ironic, given how much time I spend on derby now! Anyway, I started skating with the refs and never looked back.
2. How did you choose your name, what’s the story behind it?
Well, I wanted to be Dr. No No, but it was taken. That was for the best really, because I’m just not a fan of puns. I like that “Fisteria” is a feminist reclamation of “hysteria”, it sounds strong and only hints at violence. It also shortens nicely to “Fist”. But more than anything, it’s an Easter egg for my biology nerd friends, because the homophone Pfiesteria is a genus of dinoflagellate that produces a paralytic neurotoxin, and is responsible for massive fish kills from time to time. It was, in fact, a biology nerd friend of mine who suggested it, and I knew immediately she’d nailed it.
3. OK…so, the rules. They’re pretty complicated, and we’ve seen some significant changes and clarifications recently. Is there a rule change that you would like to see?
More rules changes?? Haven’t we had enough lately? I think we need to work with the rule set we have for a while and see how it shakes out. I’m still trying to figure out some of it, and I’m sure we haven’t seen all the new strategies and tactics teams will use in response, yet. Having said that, I think the increase in the number and impact of power jams is an unintended consequence of dropping minors, and I think there’ll be changes in the future to address it. I would welcome that.
4. What do you think is one of the rules that people have the hardest time with? Is there a particular call you find yourself making a lot?
It really depends on the skater. For fresh meat, what to do if you false start on the Jammer Line as a blocker is always a hard one, for some reason. What you call as a skating official depends somewhat on what position you’re working. I tend to work Inside Pack a lot, so I end up making calls like Destroying the Pack, and Failure(s) to Reform. I like working the pack, and teams are really making a strategy out of pack dynamics lately, so there’s lots to call.
5. Now, hypothetically, if you could be an official for any away bout, do you have a dream location? Somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Maybe a team you’ve always wanted to see?
Boy, that’s really 3 different questions. The travelling part of away bouts isn’t usually that fun, so the closer the better. I’d love to go to Nationals where ever they are, but not to work it, just to watch. I’m actually really looking forward to travelling with our Junior league once they get to that point. I love Jr. derby, and it’s fun to officiate, so that will be worth the travel.
6. What about your life outside of derby?
What about it? I have 2 kids (an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old), a husband, and a full-time job. I’m an aquatic ecologist and biologist working on endangered salmon and trout as part of the Columbia Habitat Monitoring and Assessment Program through NOAA. I’m a coffee geek and home roaster, and I like to start knitting projects. My mortal enemy is a ‘possum that keeps busting into my hen-house and killing my chicks. Not eating them, mind you, just killing them. Jerk.
7. Derby can be a pretty huge time commitment, what keeps you motivated and what makes it worth it?
I found in derby a great combination of athletics, community, and nerd core.
Swagger Jackie: I have been derbying for close to 3 years already! Boy, does the time fly. I was an OG on Lava City’s Junior Roller derby team (based out of Bend, OR). I not only played with my two sisters, I was coached by my Mom, while my Dad refereed! I absolutely fell in love with the sport immediately and the fact that it was something I could do with my family made it all the better.
Sunny: What keeps you going, physically or mentally?
Swagger Jackie: I would say that my drive to be the best in everything I do keeps me going. I took nearly 10 months off of derby after I moved away for college. When I made my return, my endurance was not nearly at the level it used to be. My knowledge of strategy, rules etc. had also fallen by the wayside and so I think knowing the skater I used to be pushes me to not only get back to where I was, but surpass it.
Sunny: Favorite aspects of roller derby?
Swagger Jackie: The fact that it is for EVERYONE! Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t play sports to save my life. I’m also not good at branching out and making friends. Derby showed me that I CAN be athletic, and good at a sport. It also has allowed me to meet some of the most kick ass girls (and guys too!) that I would have never had the pleasure of meeting if I hadn’t joined derby.
Sunny: Story behind your name?
Swagger Jackie: Oh man…. As a junior skater, I was Bridget Pwnz on the track (a spin-off of Bridget Jones.) As I was getting closer and closer to my 18th birthday, I realized that someone had not only registered my name… but also my number on the name registry. And they lived in Oregon! I was so mad… I had been skating as Bridget for over a year, and when I had come up with it, it was not registered. That woman had jacked my name! As my family and I joked about how I was “swagger jacked” we came up with Swagger Jackie. What’s the ultimate hate? To jack someone’s “swag”… hence my number: H8.
Sunny: Loved ones’ reactions to your derby involvement?
Swagger Jackie: They loved it! My mom and I joined close to the same time… a few months later, both sisters were playing with me, and my dad was a ref! It’s the first time we’ve all found a common hobby that we enjoy, and I think it’s awesome how close we all are. We’re lifers.
Sunny: Favorite unintended consequence of derby in your life?
Swagger Jackie: To get totally cheesy… I would have to say meeting CoREXher. He is not just by teacher and my friend, but also my boyfriend. And I love him so very much. It’s nice that we can be totally obsessed with derby together.
Sunny: How has roller derby changed your perspective on life or yourself?
Swagger Jackie: It has made me so much more confident. I feel like I actually fit in somewhere, whereas most of my life I didn’t. It’s also shown me that it’s okay to be different, and has allowed me to really become much more open-minded. I am grateful for the realness derby brought to my life.
Sunny: Tips for new skaters or those who are thinking about getting into roller derby?
- 1. No, it’s not like Whip It
- 2. Do it.
Interview by Scarlett Harlett
1) How did you find out about Sick Town, and what made you decide to give it a try?
In September of last year a few friends and I came to the fairgrounds for a beer tasting event. Coincidentally there was a bout going on at the same time, so we went and watched the second half. I was mesmerized by it all: the welcoming and eager to educate volunteers, the loyal fans, and most of all, the admirable athleticism, teamwork and communication skills of the players. Those traits are applicable not only in the sport of derby, but in life, and after watching that bout I knew I wanted to use derby as a way to improve those traits in myself.
2) What goes on in your life outside of derby?
Outside of derby I go to school full-time, work as much as I can, and spend the rest of my time with my husband, family and friends. My life is busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
3) Do you have any pre-scrimmage rituals to get you pumped up?
My only pre-scrimmage ritual is to arrive early and sit in my car to reflect and breathe through my nerves. Sometimes I try to visualize skills or strategies I want to try, to remind myself of the steps I need to take to accomplish them. After a few minutes of that I walk into scrimmage nervous, but ready for anything.
4) What has derby taught you?
So far, the most important lesson that derby has reinforced for me is that nothing can be attained without HARD work. It was difficult for me to start this sport knowing nothing about it and having minimal skills for it. However with patience, practice, optimism and a few bruises, I’ve come this far and I am determined to continue improving my skills and celebrating my accomplishments.
5) Blocker, Jammer, Pivot. Which part do you prefer to play more and why?
The more I practice, the more I prefer jamming. The adrenaline rush I get from breaking through a pack of opposing blockers mostly untouched is an addiction that I want to keep fueling.
6) What is something that most people don’t know, or would never guess about you?
Well this is a little ironic, but most people would never guess that I play roller derby. I’m quiet and reserved, non-confrontational and small in size. People are shocked when I tell them, and then they’re excited!
7) What is something you would like to accomplish in derby by the end of the year?
By the end of the year I hope to be more confident in all of my skating skills, have a dynamic understanding of all of my team’s strategies, and to have competed in several bouts.
8) What are the most common misconceptions about roller derby or the skaters?
The most common assumption that I get questions about are how much of it is “staged” or just for show. My response: none of it. It’s a sport that takes precision skill, athleticism and teamwork. I encourage those that question it to come and watch.
9) Everyone in the league plays important roles and pitch in to make the league run. What do you do, other than be awesome on your skates?
I’m very excited to share that I recently took on the position of “Sponsorship Coordinator” for the league. I will be looking for future potential sponsors, as well as maintaining strong relationships with our current sponsors. I am proud to be contributing to the success of our league. We wouldn’t all be able to play this sport we love without everyone’s help.
10) Do you see yourself still playing derby 5, 10 years from now?
As long as I am physically able, I will be playing derby!
Sick Town Derby Dames is thrilled to announce the debut of its newly-formed team, the Dis-Orderlies! The Dis-Orderlies join the S*M*A*S*H Unit as Sick Town’s teams available for travel.
The Dis-Orderlies are composed of players who have been skating from six months to nearly four years, with ages ranging from early 20s to mid 60s. One thing they all share: a love of derby. These skaters have worked hard and are ready to play!
The team’s goal is to scrimmage other leagues twice a month, and to play challenging bouts as often as possible. The Dis-Orderlies have two away bouts planned for 2013 (12 October vs. CCDG’s Rookies and 26 October vs. SORG; see our 2013 Schedule for more info), and hope to have a full schedule for 2014.
The Dis-Orderlies are available to bout B-level teams (including home teams) in Oregon, southwest Washington, and northern California. For more information or to schedule a bout, email email@example.com.
Press contact: Dixie Skullpopper (team co-captain), 541-990-2330, firstname.lastname@example.org
1. How did you get into Derby?
I started at Sick Town’s second practice ever. Natasha, (aka Smack da Puss, aka Wolf) and I had talked about derby at a Christmas party. She remembered and got in touch with me when she saw a league was starting up locally. I will always be thankful to her for convincing me to go with her and Kant (her sister).
2. You have had a lot of roles within Sick Town. Skater, President and trainer/coach of our JR league (The Candy Stripers), and announcer of bouts. Which is your favorite and why?
Oh jeeze. I have to pick a favorite? Well, skating was amazing. When I skated with the league (before too many injuries and a pregnancy took me off skates) I learned so much about myself. I learned how to push myself harder than I thought possible, I learned how to be a better friend and teammate, and I learned how important it is to have faith & confidence in yourself. Those were life changing lessons at 23, and I wish I had the chance to learn those things when I was struggling with body image and friendships in high school. So, after breaking my ankle during a bout a few years ago, Velma and I decided to take the time to start up the junior league. Second only to being a mother to my new daughter Bowie, working with the junior skaters has been my most fulfilling endeavor. They’re AMAZING, smart, strong and incredibly hard-working. Age, injury, and circumstance might keep me from being a National level skater but I have no doubt I am working with at least some of the up and coming derby super stars. My daughter will have those girl’s posters on her wall and I’ll get to tell her “I knew them when.” Announcing is lots of fun too, I’m actually a pretty shy person but something about derby just opens me up and lets me have a little fun with myself. Plus I just really love to talk about and watch derby. I’d do it if I had a mic in my hand or not! I guess I can’t pick a favorite, they’re all too connected.
3. You have been a part of Sick Town for a long time. What is your favorite moment in Derby history?
My favorite derby moment that I have been a part of was the night I broke my ankle. It should have been a crappy night. We were skating short already and I had just landed a beautiful hit on the other team’s jammer (sending her waaaaay off track, it was gorgeous) when her blocker and I tangled skates. I knew my ankle was broken before I hit the ground but I begged them to let me try and skate (adrenaline will do crazy things to your brain). Bones, being the level headed best friend that she is, convinced me that wasn’t going to happen. The other team had just started gaining a lead on us and I was so worried about the score the whole time I was in the ER (thanks Frankie for the ride and hand holding!)! Dixie told me they were gonna win it for me before I left– and they totally did. I hear they ramped up the intensity and played like a pack of beasts after I left. It was just such a nice night and a good vibe. I was away from home and it could have been a really terrible time but I got to bond with some newer-to-the-league faces and just have a blast with my friends. Then, since I was taking a break from derby anyway my husband and I decided to go ahead and have a baby (which I remember Tuna joking would happen). So all in all, it was a pretty eventful ankle break!
Then my favorite moment in ALL of derby history is the night one of my junior skaters attempted and landed an apex jump during scrimmage. It was sweet. She’s one of our more reserved skaters, and has worked very hard to develop her strong skills. Watching her jump that apex was this incredible symbol of not just her derby journey but the journey of our entire junior league. Some of our skaters came in with strong skating skills, or some have seemed to pick up the derby thing really naturally. Others have had to fight for every stride. Axl is one of the fighters. So determined, so hardworking. I think she represents a lot of derby skaters at any age. Derby is in her blood now and she’s a total beast. I feel proud I’ve gotten to see all that she, and the other junior skaters have achieved so far.
4. What are the hardest parts about your roles within Sick Town, if any?
Time. It’s something I’m struggling with every day. My husband is incredibly supportive of derby and all the roles I’ve played within the sport; I am so lucky for that. But now that my seven month old is on the move there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Someone should work on that, I bet all the derby mamas would appreciate a few more hours in the day to fit in some derby!
5. What is the biggest challenge you have met in Derby?
That little voice inside my head that tells me to quit, or that I can’t do something, or that it’s not worth the effort. Five years ago that voice was pretty loud, but every time I passed a minski [minimum skills] assessment, added a lap to my endurance, or landed a sweet hit the voice got a little quieter. I hope by the time they’re my age the skaters I’m working with don’t have that little voice, but instead an entire mental cheering section waving signs and rooting them on. And maybe one of their mental cheerleaders will sound like me, that would be radsauce.
6. What is your motto?
I don’t know that I have one! Which is funny because as an announcer I’ve thought of some good ones for other skaters!
If you were at one of my practices you’d probably hear me say GET LOW aproximentaly 1.5 billion times (and I remember cursing Brick for yelling the same thing at me aproximentaly 5 billion times) and ROLLER DERBY WITH FRIENDS! That last one probably sums up the whole derby thing for me. We’re all here, sweating, working our skates off together. I’m putting in my 100% and the skater next to me is doing the same. That kind of dedication creates an incredible bond that I never really had with other women. I am so thankful for it. So glad to have a community of strong women to support me and for my daughter to look up to as she grows.
7. And last but not least what keeps you coming back?
Well, it’s funny that you ask that as I am poised to take a bit of a derby break while I focus on going to grad school and wrangling the baby Bowie beast (she’s a real fire cracker, can’t imagine where she gets it!). But derby is such a part of my life I could never REALLY leave. I am so dedicated to the sport and all that it has taught me that at the very least you’ll find me spouting the good word of roller derby to anyone who will listen. I’m a nerdy derby fan who anxiously waits for each new rule set to dissect and discuss with my husband over dinner. My best friends skate for Sick Town and our junior skaters inspire me way too much for me to ever just fade into the shadows. I may not be able to skate anymore (until they develop the peg leg roller derby skate, for injured pirates), and I may not always live in the Willamette Valley but I’ve been infected with the disease for which there is no cure. I am roller derby through and through, and I’m sure Sick Town blue blood pumps through my veins.
Interview by Rollin’ Rebel # 50
Rebel: How long have you been involved in Roller Derby?
Way-Laid: I started with Sick Town last March. So…. about 15 months.
Rebel: How did you get involved in this sport?
Way-Laid: I kept seeing a sign on the way to work. Every day it would ask “Do you wanna do Roller Derby?” and I would be like “YES!” When I saw a flier for a bout I had to go. Then the info for the new skater day and the announcers talking about it convinced me that this is where I belong.
Rebel: What are your roles with Sick Town? Position, board member, part of a committee?
Way-Laid: I generally play as a blocker. I like the quick pickup of catching the jammer after she thinks she is through the pack. Off the track I work with the New Recruits Committee.
Rebel: What motivates you to put your skates on when you feel like staying home instead?
Way-Laid: My daughter. If I try to skip practice she will tell me that she is going to be a Candy Striper and I have to set a good example (insert over the top dramatization here).
Rebel: What do you enjoy about Roller Derby?
Way-Laid: I like that Derby is a lifestyle and a family. Everyone that is involved has an unwavering love for the sport. The players are supportive and encouraging. So much more so than what you would find with other sports or activities.
Rebel: Have you been involved in other competitive sports? What were they and what was your favorite?
Way-Laid: I was a varsity wrestler in high school. It was interesting being a girl trying to break into a boy’s sport.
Rebel: Please tell us a little about yourself that we normally wouldn’t know about you.
Way-Laid: I was born and raised in Small Town, USA in Northern California. The busy rush of Corvallis and Albany took some getting used to, but in ten years I am finally learning to live with all the traffic. I spend my days as an accountant. My nights are spent with the light and the love of my life: My 9 year-old daughter and my husband. In the rest of my free time I hike, bike, garden, and eat. nommmnommnomm.
Sick town is losing an amazing advanced skater and I, Block Jawz, had the privilege to interview her before she moves far far away! Here are the deet’s!
What’s the story behind your name?
Well I’m kinda a quiet person (’til you get to know me). Honestly, there are times when people just don’t notice I’m there or hear me. I wanted a name that fit my personality and be cool.
Are there challenges you overcome to stay in derby?
When I first started I got several injuries consecutively that made it hard for me to stay in derby. Finding the balance of derby, working a job, and school work was a challenge.
How long have you been derbying? We want the details!
3 years in December. Silly, I started like 2 weeks before Christmas in the winter at the CDC! [the CDC, Sick Town's former practice space, was unheated.]
What’s your most notable injury?
My knee injury. I had a massive bruise and was in a leg immobilizer for several weeks.
Your derby persona would be voted Most Likely To…, while YOU would be voted Most Likely To… ?
Ill-Ninja would be voted most likely to take a challenge or jump the apex or make friends. I would be most likely to get left behind cause I’m still in the bathroom (A pee a lot!).
Do you have any tips for new skaters or those who are thinking about getting into roller derby?
Derby is a lot of work, even more than you think; even when someone tells you it’s a lot of work. Stick to it, it will pay off in the end. Go to practice even if you’ve had the worst day of your life and want to cry; it will make a difference.
What does your future in derby look like, are you a lifer?
I am transferring to Jet City Rollergirls in Washington. I’m sure I won’t be a lifer. There will be a time when my body tells me I’m done, and I’ll move on to something different, but that won’t be for a while.
I love the workout. I love the tights and fishnets and booty shorts. I love the names.
I love that after a good practice muscles are sore that I never knew I had. I
love that even when I’m having an off day and I feel like I don’t want to go to
practice, afterwards I’m always glad that I went. I love the people and the
camaraderie. I love it all!
2. Loved ones’ reactions to your derby involvement?
In a word: varied. My Dad is convinced that I’m going to break not just something
but everything. My Mom still thinks it’s like it was in the 70’s and may be
just a bit more frightened of/for me than usual. My sisters think it’s awesome,
as do my friends. Some people look at me like I’m insane and some of them like
“Yeah, right…YOU do roller derby. Sure.” Mostly people just want to know when
they can come and watch me and I tell them it’s going to be a while before I
play, but that they should check out a bout ASAP because derby is the shit.
3. What do you love about Sick Town?
The people!!! What an amazing group of women. Everyone is so diverse in their personalities/jobs/lives, but everyone comes together in their love of derby…and whipping…and panties…and beer…and pizza…and tights…and booty shorts. Just sayin’…my kind of bitches
degree weather. My mouth was like the Sahara desert and my heart was beating
out of my chest but I didn’t feel like I was going to puke. I guess I’ll have
to try harder.5. Look down. What’s the blister/callous situation?I’ve actually been really lucky in the blister/callous department. For a bit I had
these crazy blisters that were like 17 layers of skin thick to the bottom of my
foot right behind my second toe. I think they were from desperately clenching
my feet trying to feel more stable or keep my skates on (because obviously they
were just going to go flying off of my feet during a drill. Obviously). When I
look down right now I see road rash on my left shin. Puny road rash…but it’s
there and I’m proud of it!
6. How has roller derby changed your perspective on life or yourself?
I that I honestly never thought I’d ever be able to do. I don’t usually do
things I’m not inherently good at in case I look like an idiot or end up not
being able to do it. There are lots of things I can’t do yet, but I keep
trying. I look like an idiot A LOT, but everyone is so patient and encouraging,