Thursday, December 16, 2010

V for Vendetta, Julietta Vendetta that is...

Vendetta playing for the Manhattan Mayhem. Photo by Darren Mayhem.

*I'd like to preface this by saying that before I ever went to my first practice I went roller skating to try out my new gear. I ran into V there who noticed I had derby skates on and she took it upon herself to help me with stops. She wasn't even part of the league yet. Not only is she an incredible player but she really does love helping her leaguemates improve themselves. I'm honored to have her on my team.~Snuggles

A Providence Roller Derby bout at the Bank of America Rink. Photo by Richard McCaffrey.

A radio ad changed my life. In May of 2005, I heard a radio promo for a roller derby bout on my drive home from work. At the time, I was a quiet 21 year old working as a research assistant in a Sleep Lab at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. I was just married to my high school sweetheart, a medical student at Brown. I drove a Volvo. I had few friends other than my work and my husband’s medical school pals.

On that ride home, I heard an ad for something that sounded pretty awesome: all-female roller derby at the Bank of America Skating Rink in downtown Providence. I had seen roller derby on television when I was a kid, and I remember thinking it looked really fun, although I had no idea what I was watching. I don’t remember comprehending that it was a game, just people skating around trying to knock each other down.

The Bank of America Rink was within walking distance of my apartment, so I dragged my husband down to check it out. It was amazing – roller skating, brawls, crazy uniforms, hilarious announcers, and the penalty box was a toilet. After witnessing Providence Roller Derby’s first bout, I remember thinking, “I could do that.” I had not put on skates for over 10 years. I immediately went home to look up PRD’s website to join. I went to the next practice, and I’ve been playing derby ever since.

Providence Roller Derby circa 2007. Photo by Dr. Vendetta.

What a fun ride this has been. I skated with Providence for four seasons and travelled the country skating for their all-star travel team, the Rhode Island Riveters. Highlights included co-captaining a home team, the Sakonnet River Roller Rats, captaining the Killah Bees B-level travel team, and playing at WFTDA Eastern Regionals. We worked our asses off, not only on the track but also on the business end of the league. I worked on almost every league committee, and that experience has helped me land some great jobs in the real world. Most of all, I made some of the best friends that a girl could ask for.

Guest playing for the Brooklyn Bombshells. Photo by Darren Mayhem.

In July of 2008, we packed up and moved to the middle of Manhattan when my husband landed a job at a hospital there. I immediately transferred to the number one league in the country at that time, Gotham Girls Roller Derby. I probably should have been more intimidated about joining them – I worked my ass off to just keep up! I got to play with some of my derby idols like Beyonslay, Ginger Snap, Suzy Hotrod, and Bonnie Thunders. I was practicing five days a week at one point, playing on three teams: their fresh meat team, The Meatpacking District; their B-level travel team, The Wall Street Traitors; and my home team, The Manhattan Mayhem. I also took on the massive job of Head of Bout Production, which included organizing a support staff of over 100 people for each monthly bout and transporting Gotham’s massive sport-court floor to and from the venue. I must say I learned more there about the sport than in my past four years with Providence combined. However, as my husband’s job was only a one-year contract, we were again off to new adventures…

Winning MVP for the Hellions of Troy. Photo by Ida Feltersnatch.

So here we are in Albany! I first joined the Hellions of Troy, and I continued to grow as a skater by working more on my pivoting and jamming than I ever had, and was able to draw on my experience with my past two leagues to help them with coaching and strategy. My time with them was highlighted by my MVP award that I received when we played against CNY Roller Derby (Utica, NY). However, in June of 2010 after much thought, I made the tough decision that the Albany All-Stars were likely a better fit for me.

As I begin my seventh season with the All-Stars, I am thrilled to be a part of this league. I am constantly learning new things from my teammates and coaches, while also getting to help coach the fresh meat. I’m also back to practicing four days a week, which I really missed from my Gotham days. I can’t wait to play my first bout with my home team, The Department of Public Hurts, at the Armory! Here’s hoping for many more years on the track – I’m just getting started.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Derby Girl's Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
I've been a pretty good derby girl this year. I've made the majority of practices, trained at the gym on some of my off days, and do my squats at home. I know I may have thrown some elbows, cut the track, and back blocked here and there, but none of it was intentional, I swear. So, since I have been more nice than naughty (I'm saving the naughty for when I am ready to scrimmage and bout, at which time I'm sure I will have NO business asking you for anything), I am submitting to you my wish list of presents.

Thanks in advance,
Crash N Carrie

1. A hot tub.
What derby girl would not like to luxuriate in a hot tub after a long, arduous practice?

2. Unlimited spending at Wicked Skatewear.

3. A case of ibuprofen.
Cuz there are days there would not be functioning without it.

4. Inflatable leg wraps.
OK, this is the most ridiculous looking invention ever... but the more I looked at it, the more my 39-year-old derby girl self thought these might feel really good after practice!

5. Ice packs.
Cuz you can never have too many.

6. A heating pad.
I don't have one, but I imagine it's a good thing.

7. Weekly massages at Back In Balance with Bethany.
(OK, it's a shameless plug, but she is really that good!)

8. New sneakers.
I need something decent for when we do "dry land" exercises.

9. Lots and lots of knee socks.
I especially like these. I find raccoons very pleasing.

10. A year's supply of Biofreeze.
I don't advocate using it too much, but when you need it, man is it good stuff. (Can be purchased at Back In Balance!)

11. Renew my subscription to fiveonfive magazine

12. Speedy recoveries for all the injured players, and cupcakes and beer for all derby girls I love.

Happy Holidays!
Crash N Carrie

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big Hits, Big Hearts

Jerry Seltzer (the father of Roller Derby) asked on Facebook, "For those who want to respond, can you comment on what your league is doing for the good of humans and animals this Holiday season? I think the world should know."

Our own Julietta Vendetta put together a list of what various leagues are doing this holiday season:

The Molly Roger RollerGirls is participating in Toys for Tots as an official drop off site.

SACRED is hosting PLACER COUNTY Canned Food Drive in Roseville on Dec 12th! To help fill the food kitchens in Placer!

Tahoe Derby Dames "Adopted a Family" from South Lake Tahoe Woman's Center...granting them things on their Christmas wish list :)

Undead Bettys are skating and reffing/NSO-ing at Red Red! Which benifits the Sacramento, CA Food Banks!

Albany All Stars Roller Derby is running in the Santa Speedo Sprint, which is raising money for a local organization that helps those with/affected by HIV/AIDS.

Omaha Rollergirls is throwing a Black & Blue Ball, proceeds go to the Hefflinger Dog Park.

El Paso roller derby is helping collect toys for tots.

Renegade Rollergirls of San Diego are collecting canned goods for the local food bank.

Central NY Roller Derby is helping to collect toys for a local fundraiser called Jams for Tots.

Burlington, Vermont Bombers (men's and women's teams) donated to the local Food Shelf for Thanksgiving and are collecting food, cash, clothing, and toy donations for local agencies in the area to benefit families in need this holiday season.

Queen City Roller Girls ( in Buffalo, NY have helped collect canned goods for the Food Bank, are diving into Lake Erie to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics, and are collecting Toys for Tots at our holiday party.

Pikes Peak Derby Dames recently had our annual skate-a-thon and will be donating a large amount of cash to Big Brothers Big Sisters. and we're also collecting Toys for Tots at our last bout of the season on December 11!

This is the 5th year Sac City Rollers have dedicated December to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. We love what we do.

Jet City Rollergirls' annual Santa Skate 12/12 at the Everett Skate Deck, we will be collecting gift card donations again for the Battered Women's Shelter and canned food for the food bank! Last year we raised over $700 for the women's shelter.

The Camel City Thrashers (Triad Area of NC) are currently collecting new toys to be used as gifts for the children at the Childrens Home Society.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Questionable Meat

A post by GW Shart. Photos by KD Bang.

I am questionable meat. New girls are often referred to as fresh meat, and we on AASRD have referred to our more seasoned players as rancid meat. I fall somewhere right in the middle; I’m not seasoned but I’m definitely not fresh. Questionable meat: you should probably overcook me.

I joined derby about 11 months ago, I’ve yet to play in a bout but I’m hoping for sometime in our 2011 season to show off everything I’ve learned in the last year.

I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. I am in fact the opposite of an athlete, a couch-lete, if you will. I know some of us in AASRD were never soccer players or softball pitchers in high school. The difference is that I get more competitive with age. I grew up wanting to just be good at something. Now, I want to be the best at everything I do. No lie--there are even board games that exist that my friends WILL not play with me because I just get “too intense”. I want to win, I want to knock you over, I want to send you out of bounds. It’s no longer good enough for me to be just “good enough”. I want to be the best derby player I could possibly be.

But derby for me is more than just the sport; it’s become my other life. I always felt like, in my group of friends, that I was the different one. I was the one that stuck out; I have tattoos and I dye my hair. I’m loud, aggressive and I love gross jokes.

When I joined derby this year, it didn’t take me too long to realize that I had found something really special. My teammates love gross jokes and have tattoos. We stand together as women who enjoy being sent sprawling across the floor, only to get up as fast as possible and do it all again.

My whole “adult” life, I’ve been looking for my person: my partner in crime, someone I could spend the rest of my life with, someone to love and be loved by. But what I’ve found is even more amazing-- I’ve found my people; 65+ women who are my partners in crime, my “let’s go grab a drink, it’s been a rough day” girl friends, my “look at my bruise!” best friends. We’re the people who always stuck out and now we fit in: with each other. Some people spend their whole lives waiting to fit in, waiting to find something, waiting to be entirely accepted. I find myself uncharacteristically lucky that I have found these people who fill in to every corner of my heart, who love me for exactly who I am, who “get” me.

So you could call this my love letter to my derby sisters and wives (I have 3 derby wives, in case you were wondering). That’s really what this is. I have fallen in love with these women: they are strong and amazing. I laugh harder, skate faster and my life is filled to the brim with love.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Derby Can Really Change a Person

Photo by Ann Yoo

By Brass Snuggles

My whole life I have been the opposite of an athlete. I was always one of the last to be picked in gym and I was fine with that. Usually it meant I got to play outfield where nothing much happened or use the tennis court that was the furthest out where my slacker friends and I would just goof off. I hung out with the art and theater crowd, which meant I spent a lot of my free time drinking coffee and chain smoking with other frail people.

Even if I had an inkling of wanting to learn a sport or become more athletic I didn't have the opportunity. I went to a high school that has produced several Olympians and professional athletes. If you hadn't already been playing your chosen sport since you were in Elementary school, you didn't even bother trying out. There was no "learning a sport," instead there was "making you so good at this sport that we can win State and colleges will be falling all over themselves for you."

So I would be competitive in other ways and just sort of let my body go to hell. In fact I never exercised on purpose, and of my own choosing, until I was a Senior in college. I figured somehow a few days a week on the elliptical for a few months would somehow undo the horrors I'd done to my body during the previous 3 years of college.

In my adult life I've had a sporadic relationship with exercise. When I do it, I love it, but it's really easy for me to "fall off the wagon." I also have a hard time pushing myself for my own sake in the way that I do if someone is expecting me to work harder or perform better.

When I joined derby in May I was a hot mess. I could barely skate and I was overweight. All I could think was "Don't fall too much," and "Damn these skates are killing my feet!" Gradually I progressed (and I still am) but once I got comfortable on skates I knew I needed to work on myself more.

One thing I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about derby is that we are so diverse in how we look and how we are. We don't all have athletic bodies. We don't have to fit a "mold" in order to perform well. Oftentimes it's actually the things about us that may seem like the weakest points that are actually our strengths. That butt that you have a hard time finding jeans for can turn you into an incredible booty blocker. Your super tiny, small body can help you become an amazing jammer.

But at the end of the day if you want to help your team, you have to work on yourself. I've started exercising on my own time and eating better to lose weight. The more weight that comes off, the better I perform at practice and the less I have to struggle.

I know I'm not alone either. Derby has caused some of my fellow leaguemates to quit smoking, to start running, to enter 5Ks, to try other sports, and to focus on what they put into their bodies (alcohol doesn't count though, it is ESSENTIAL to our way of life). Yes we do it to have fun and knock other people down, but for a lot of us it really does become something that changes us for the better.

On a side note: I'd been planning to write this all day, and then, on my way home from practice tonight a car in front of me had a license plate that said "NVRGVUP" on it. Perfect, right?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I did During my Summer

By: K.D. Bang

I have been riding a motorcycle for the past 13 years. Currently, I have the nicest motorcycle I have ever owned. It is a 2008 1200 Roadster. I have always wanted to go to Sturgis, but being a wedding photographer my summers are pretty booked. This year I finally got to go. I had a two week break in August, and it happened to be when the rally was going on.

I started a list in my head of what I would need, then "Googled" what I should bring on long motorcycle trips. I got some great ideas, like a first aid kit and "fix a flat". I started getting small camping gear that would fit into the saddlebags I still needed to buy at that point.
I started a little pile of what I planned to bring, ordered saddlebags and then made another list.

It looked like this:
tarp, tent, sleeping bag, bedroll, map, passport and other important paperwork (I was going through Canada), first aid kit, Leatherman, fix a flat, camping burner with gas, toothbrush and toothpaste, knife, pepper spray, clothes, rain gear, duct tape, lighters, cell phone and charger, food (i.e. soup/granola bars), water container, camping towel, and of course, my wallet.

I let my friends talk me into buying AAA, of course I had to get the primo service because the others didn’t include motorcycle coverage. (This came back to bite me in the a** later.)

Of course I wanted either or both Merry Pain or Liv Dangerously to go, but they both have regular jobs (I am sorry) so it was just me… if was going it was going to be just me.

I had a rough time line, including a date to leave. As I got closer to the date I was leaving, I tried to make sure that everything fit in my saddlebags and back pack, as I would be living on a bike (or "the road") for two weeks. I planned to camp the entire time and had made a reservation in Sturgis, South Dakota for a camp site. I didn’t want to take highways the whole time so planned a 2,100 or so mile trip up and around through Canada; I had high hopes for this leg of my trip.

When the day came to leave I brought my dog over to Katastrophe’s house. She made the trip possible by watching him. I walked away with tears in my eyes and was resolved to leave. I hadn’t practiced packing my bike, (that’s not how I roll), so when it came time to pack, I was in some trouble… nothing seemed to fit right or wanted to stay on. Luckily, I have an anal-retentive roommate who came out to help. It took us about 45 minutes and the sky was getting darker because a storm was rolling in, but I was still planning on leaving. I got my comfy jeans, layered shirts, motorcycle jacket and boots on and off I went.

The plan was: I-87 north to Canada and then at Montreal, cut over to the left to go around Lake Superior. Aside from stopping to get my bags adjusted correctly, the first few hours were uneventful. Customs was fine; the standard stop, "What is your trip for?" Etc., etc..

Things got exciting when I got to Montreal. First of all, the signs are all in French, and as in most cities, are super confusing. I had my trip tick, which is impossible to read while driving a motorcycle. Plus, I couldn’t even read what was east or west, north or south. Coupling this with the nastiest looking clouds rolling in, I started to get a little nervous. After pulling over multiple times to look at my map and put on my rain gear, I appeared to be on a road that would get me where I needed to go.

That’s when it started pouring… outside Montreal… somewhere. If you have ever ridden a motorcycle on the highway in the rain you know it is sketchy at best. I couldn’t see, my feet were getting soaked, and I wasn’t any bit sure as to where I was.

I decided to pull off the highway at what looked like a truck stop. It was raining buckets and I wanted to try and wait it out. (Keep in mind it was my first day around 5pm and I was in a French speaking territory). When I got off the highway, I noticed that there was no cover, but then I spotted what looked like a diner and drove up to it. When I got close I saw it was A STRIP CLUB! I was like "F me! I am dripping, sopping wet, my stuff is soaked, I don’t speak French and it is pouring." Plus, I had just shaved my head and thought I could scare the locals.

Of course I wanted to go in the strip club, but I envisioned how I would look dripping all over their floor and being spoken to and not understanding. It is easy enough to spend all your money in a strip it off with not being able to speak the language! So I hunkered under the side awning and waited for someone to come out and yell at me. I waited about 30 minutes until the rain calmed down and then hopped on my bike, still soaked, but ready to find a campground. No sooner than I got on the bike and hit the throttle, it died on the way out of the parking lot.

"WTF, really? This is a 2008, it should have no problems," I was thinking.

So, on the side of the service road in front of the strip club in a French speaking territory, my bike broke down on my first day. All I was thinking was my roommate saying, “if you break down in Canada I can’t come get you.” Oh shit, I pulled my bike off to the side and thought about Ted Bundy and other serial killers that must have loved strip clubs while I tried to find a loose wire. I know a little about bikes so I fiddled around with it, but then I called triple AAA. I was so happy I bought that the day before.

When I finally got someone, she asked me "Where are you?"
"Uhm," I said, "I don’t really know."
I figured out some markers and she said "be right back," she needed to call my AAA home office to approve a tow.
"Ok, cool. Thanks," I replied.

Hahahaha! She came back and said, "I am sorry. Your home office has a 72 hour minimum as to when they will pay for a tow after you pay triple AAA."
"WHAT WHAT?!? No one told me that!" I was so mad, and stuck. I got super mad said, "nevermind" and resolved to deal with this problem. I had an idea: it was a short and I was going to go after it with my Leatherman.

I ripped the side cover and seat off, took the pig tails off and started touching wires.
I tightened the bolts, and holy s***! After 2 hours of being stuck on the side of the road and thinking my trip was over, she started! I quickly put it back together and needed to find a camp site! I jumped on the highway to find a place to figure out what I was going to do.

...To be continued...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Season Recap, Part 9: The Finale

Photo by Rob Gierthy

Bout number 9 of a sixth month season arrives before the skaters can blink. On June 19th, EST takes on the Lake Effect Furies of the Queen City Roller Girls. The heat and humidity in the Armory are suffocating, but there is still a huge fan turnout. It seems the demand for sweaty bad ass ladies in booty shorts is always high!

The first period begins well and the Troopers manage to hold their own against the Furies. But the heat is close to dangerous and everyone on the track is sloppy, leading to lots of penalty time. A huge hit from Jenny Rotten and another from Isabella Bruisalini keep the opposing team's points relatively low.

Down by only 20 points at the beginning of the second period, low energy and more penalties plague the Troopers. Fancy footwork from Dottie Damage and the feisty attitude of Scarlet O’Hackya keep the crowd cheering the whole way through. But the second period ends with EST down by 45 points, now a substantial difference to be made up.

The third period is full of determination and hard work. Some huge point scoring jams from Dottie Damage, Katastrophe and Black & Blue Jean, each achieving two grand slams, help EST earn back those points but the Furies continue to score points as well throughout the third period, and EST is once again defeated, 142 to 93.

Six months worth of learning and fighting hard leave the Albany All Stars women fiercely anticipating the 2011 season, and we’re sure our fans are excited too!!

Favorite Moment: HUGE, legal hits from Merry Pain, Isabella Bruisalini and KD Bang, all of which get sent to the box anyway in a typical display of penalty profiling.

Highest Scoring Jammer: Dottie Damage