Photo by Conan O’ Spyin
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.