As their first season with Ohio Roller Derby winds down and preparations begin for the next round of OHRD tryouts in September, we caught up with some members of the 2019 rookie class to discuss their experiences, joys, and growth over the past year.
How did you first hear about roller derby, and what made you decide to get involved with OHRD?
Slayna Scully: I first heard about roller derby back in college in 2009! I was in my first year at BGSU and went to see the Glass City Rollers and fell in love. I bought a pair of quads that year, but never had the money or the time to get involved. I skated casually and recreationally until I finished graduate school last spring, and then I was free to join OHRD, aka the league of my dreams!
Nick Tater: Slayna Scully, who I knew mostly just as an acquaintance through my sister, was involved with OH-Rec League (OH!RL) and convinced me to join because she thought I would enjoy it. I’ve always been athletic and she just reached out randomly one day and told me to come try a WannaBe Clinic. I was hooked from that first night. I joined OH!RL and also got involved as a non-skating official (NSO) with the league so I could get to know the game of derby and the players and volunteers in the league. It’s been amazing since Day 1.
AllieCatastrophe: I heard about OHRD from Gem City Roller Derby before I moved to Columbus.
Frida Killo: I played for Central Ohio Roller Derby for two years before moving to Columbus and joining OHRD. The team’s reputation is stellar, and it was exciting to transfer and see everything in action, not to mention that my skills have improved SO MUCH.
Rennywise: I went to a bout as part of a date night with my husband. Ten minutes into the first game, I was hooked and knew I had to play this amazing sport. The program had info about WannaBe Clinics, so I made a point to go to the next one that was offered. I think I went to two clinics before I needed more derby in my life, so I signed up for Rec League.
Tone Cold: My sister (Rennywise) and I went to a WannaBe Clinic and loved it.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: My sister started playing roller derby, and kept telling me I should try out. I kept saying I never had enough time, but when I moved to Columbus I decided to look into roller derby teams which lead me to my first WannaBe, which lead me to OH!RL, which lead me to trying out!
La Femme Fubar: I was at my niece’s skate party, and my brother-in-law pointed out that I was both aggressive and could skate a straight line and suggested I try roller derby. After a quick Google search I was signed up for my first WannaBe Clinic.
Peach Roulette: Folks had been telling me that I “would love roller derby” for maybe ten years. I finally signed up for a WannaBe Clinic when a friend expressed interest. Ultimately she forgot, but I went anyway, and tried out after skating all year with the OH-RL! At first I wasn’t sure where things would lead, but I figured I could at least learn some sweet skating skills even if I didn’t commit. Once I saw how much fun and meaning folks get out of the sport, I decided I wanted to go deeper!
Rollin’ Initiative: I had a friend start roller derby a year or so prior. She loved it so much and never stopped talking about it. When I was visiting, she had me come watch derby and I instantly knew that derby was something I needed in my life.
At first I was pretty intimidated by OHRD. At one point I went to a WannaBe Clinic and everyone was so nice and helpful. Next thing I knew, I was at tryouts!
Did you play other sports before derby? Are you currently pursuing any other athletic endeavors?
Tone Cold: I played t-ball when I was really little and then did gymnastics and cheerleading from about 10 years old until I graduated.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: I’ve played soccer ever since I was 5, and I like to run regularly. I also used to play volleyball, but that was only for a couple of years.
Frida Killo: Not since middle school.
AllieCatastrophe: Rugby and figure skating.
Nick Tater: I swam and played soccer my whole life growing up, and I was on Ohio State’s Varsity Rowing team. I did CrossFit for a while before starting derby. I just recently did a sprint triathlon and absolutely loved it, so I’d love to do more of those in the future. I also play in a softball league on Sundays in the summers.
Rennywise: I ran track for one year in middle school but running is stupid. HA!
Peach Roulette: I did kung fu and kick boxing during high school. I’m an urban bicyclist and former pedicab driver, and I do funky aerial dance stuff for exercise (mostly static trapeze). Not really a sport, but I also swing dance!
Slayna Scully: I am what Avocado ToeStop refers to as a “late in life jock.” I never played sports before derby, but to improve my endurance I have taken up running and swimming. During derby break I completed a mini sprint-distance triathlon with my fellow rookie, Nick Tater!
If you were involved with OH-Rec League, what was your experience like? How was the adjustment to becoming a rookie?
Peach Roulette: The tryout experience made me realize that OHRD was definitely something I wanted to be a part of! Transitioning from Rec League to rookie was challenging because there was so much to learn, but it was tons of fun! Being a part of a cohort with the rookie class was exciting, and we definitely became good buddies. The support from Rec League was amazing. All the trainers encouraged us to try out, no matter our skill level. After tryouts we had a lot of rookie practices, which were designed to help us newbies hone our skills.
Nick Tater: Rec league is the happiest place on Earth! Everyone loves each other so much and is just there to have fun! Transitioning into the league as a rookie was relatively easy for me because I was already technically a league member, having volunteered as an NSO for the whole previous season. Knowing a lot of the league members already made it really easy to feel very supported coming into the league as a rookie. Plus our rookie class was HUGE and most of us played rec together, so it was a really fun, exciting transition.
Tone Cold: Rec league was so much fun! It’s definitely a huge difference when you become a “full time skater”. It’s still a lot of fun, but there is much more expected from you – mainly time (practice and service hours) and you get super overwhelmed with how to actually play roller derby (rules, what things mean, and trying to jam as good as Rigg and block as good as Klover and Chainsaw). I’ve had lots of soul crushing days of practice and scrimmage, but everyone is really encouraging and nice about things so that REALLY helps!
Slayna Scully: I started with OH-Rec League because I wanted to skate, but I was in graduate school, working full time, and had a waitressing job on the side and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the practice commitments. It was an awesome space to learn basic skills in a supportive environment while I was in school. The step up from OH!RL to becoming a rookie is a big one, but you keep the supportive environment and so many of the people who helped with Rec League become mentors that you can rely on when you need help or have a million questions as a rookie.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: I was one of the rookies who jumped straight from OHRL-1 to being on the team. It was DEFINITELY a big adjustment, although a good one! The skills were just being taught at a faster pace, and I was surrounded by people who were all at different skill levels than me, which has taken a lot of getting used to.
La Femme Fubar: I spent one quarter in Rec League as an OH-1 and was forced to try out (didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t a team player). Then I made the team and was like, “oh s***”. It was a big adjustment. Besides the increased practices, you end up taking on a whole new family.
Rennywise: Rec was awesome! The trainers were always encouraging and helpful. I knew right away I had stumbled upon a sport that was for me and a new family of weirdos that I was proud to be a part of.
I was terrified when I made the team. It was one thing to be in Rec League and learning, but now I was going to practice with these amazing people who have been doing this for years and totally kick ass at it.
The first mixed practice that wasn’t just rookies made me feel so much better. They were happy we were there, and guess what? I could actually do the things! I was doing drills that they did and not totally sucking!
How did you settle on your derby name and number?
AllieCatastrophe: My parents always call me AllieBallie or AllieCat. One day at a conference, a friend mentioned something regarding a “cat catastrophe” (no cats were harmed) and it clicked. I was like, “this is puurrrfect!” #48 is an even number, which I dig, and is my favorite person’s favorite number, so I wanted to have something that reminded me of them.
Frida Killo: I teach Spanish, and one of my favorite units is on Frida Kahlo. She’s SUCH a badass, and I think that’s part of what derby is all about, so I wanted to have her connected. I am also very interested in true crime, so Frida Killo sums it all up well.
Slayna Scully: I chose the name Slayna Scully as a nod to my lifelong obsession with Dana Scully, The X-Files, and aliens in general. My number, 411, is a fun throwback to the days before the internet when you would pick up a landline and dial 4-1-1 for directory information.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: Tyrannosaurus Bex is a combination of my name and the fact that I was/am definitely a dinosaur kid. When I played soccer, I was always number 4, but both 4 and 16 were taken when I was picking. I settled on 100 because it’s a nice clean number, but also it’s 4 in binary (so I can still kinda claim I’ve kept my streak!).
Rennywise: Well, that was a process. My sister also plays, so at first we tried to be all cute with names that go together, but she finally said, “this is dumb, I’m doing my own thing”. I had gone by Ren or Renny for years, so I wanted to use that. My sister actually suggested Rennywise. She hates clowns and I love them, so it was perfect. The number (11) is just a number that wasn’t taken.
Tone Cold: A lot of my family calls me Tone, so I just tried to think of something clever to go with that. And I picked my number (2) because I have two super dope kids!
La Femme Fubar: My favorite numbers were all taken, so I settled with the year my parents married: ’78. I chose my name because it sounds so feminine and I’m not. And because most don’t get it – I enjoy a good joke no one else understands.
Nick Tater: Even before I started playing derby, I would always refer to myself as a “potato with legs” because I’m awkward IRL. Plus, most of my favorite foods/meals involve potatoes in some form or another. I also knew I wanted to involve my own name in it somehow, so I came up with the play on words of dictator (because fascists are truly terrifying) and my name, Nicki. I just have always had the number 16 for all my jersey numbers since I can remember!
Peach Roulette: My number, 89, is in reference to my younger brother’s birth year. Peach Roulette is also my performer name. I use it for stilt walking gigs and aerial performances. “Peach” was originally part of my charity modeling name, in reference to my complexion. My first dance gig featured hula hooping. The “Roulette” part of my name comes from that, since a hoop goes around and around like a roulette wheel (and derby players go around the track like one too)!
Rollin’ Initiative: I love puns and I’m a huge nerd. I had honestly been struggling to pick a name for such a long time, then I was reading something about Dungeons and Dragons and that is when I got the idea for Rollin’ Initiative and #20 for a d20.
What has been your favorite derby moment so far?
Nick Tater: I honestly loved everything about Midwest BrewHaHa: getting to visit Milwaukee, playing in my first games for Gang Green, watching CT tear it up and fangirling that I actually KNOW THEM, and eating lots of cheese curds. Also, the one jam in our game against Brandywine where my wall (consisting of Scully, Killo, and our lovely captain Rage) held their jammer for a full 2 minutes while Prime casually scored 28 friggin’ points.
AllieCatastrophe: BrewHaHa weekend was a blast.
Peach Roulette: Hilarious spills, especially tumbling as a lead jammer while frantically calling off the jam. Also discovering skills I didn’t know I had mid-gameplay! Traveling out of town for derby has also been super fun.
Tone Cold: Oh, that’s too hard to say! There have been a million!
Rennywise: If I’m being honest, it was watching my sister play in her first bout. Don’t EVER tell her I said that, though.
Rollin’ Initiative: The time La Femme was unknowingly swallowed by a pack practicing on the other half of the track and almost “died,” which of course caused her to laugh so hard she was crying.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: Maybe it’s silly, but there was one practice I was jamming during a drill and had a great run of a couple laps, ending with a spectacular wipeout/slide on my stomach as the whistle was blown to end the drill. It wasn’t, like, the most amazing derby you’ve ever seen, but it still made me feel like I could do this crazy sport.
Frida Killo: Oh, man. Seeing Gang Green come together as a team, working together and making progress has been amazing! The team camaraderie combined with focus and dedication to the sport is inspiring, and I love being part of it.
Slayna Scully: There are way too many to count, so I will just have to say Bigg Rigg’s winks.
Our sport is hard work, both physically and mentally. How do you prepare for and/or recover from practice?
Frida Killo: Idk, is anyone really prepared for practice?
La Femme Fubar: Prepare? I’m lucky if I get enough time after getting off work to sit down to eat (at the office) before I scramble to get to practice. My recovery involves a snack, bed, and forced cat cuddles.
Rennywise: I listen to really loud music on the way to practice and get pumped up. I always eat Taco Bell on the way home after.
Peach Roulette: Lots of hydration! Part of my ritual for practices and games is just making sure I have everything I need in tow – gear, skate tools, bandanas for dabbing sweat, etc. Aside from that, I think being gentle and patient with myself, and a hefty dose of humor is really useful.
Slayna Scully: To prepare for practice I blast Lizzo and remind myself that derby is a sport that I play for fun so I need to cool it with the nerves. To recover from practice I cover roughly 98% of the surface area of my body in BioFreeze and chew ibuprofen like PEZ.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: Honestly, I usually go home and eat ice cream. Not the most nutritious snack, but I usually feel like devouring everything I can get my hands on after practice and ice cream is always there for me.
Tone Cold: I have learned to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I am not doing everything perfectly, because there is not a single person that has done everything perfectly, either. So many people have told me, “Roller derby is hard for at least the few 2 or 3 years. You will be confused and frustrated for a while.” In the moment, it doesn’t really make you feel real great, but it will when you’re soaking in your tub that night, thinking about how much your body hurts because Rage jarred every bone in your body when you weren’t paying attention!
Nick Tater: I try to really consciously hydrate throughout the day, especially on days of/before practices or bouts. Stretching and rolling out my crunchy little plantar fasciitis feet before and after practices. Going to therapy to make sure my mental health stays on its A game. Listening to my brain/body and telling myself it’s okay to ease off when you need to in order to keep yourself healthy. Also by having some really amazing and supportive pals on the team that check in with me and remind me that I’m doing great even if I don’t always say those things to myself.
AllieCatastrophe: I go on break and give myself space. My job is highly stressful and mentally exhausting, so I try to make sure I don’t let derby become that way. I need to remember to see it as a fun activity that I choose to do.
Tell us about your first game with Gang Green.
Tone Cold: I was pretty nervous…for like a week. After the first couple jams, it was a blast!
Peach Roulette: I was both excited and nervous. I got rostered to play for the first time in some away games at BrewHaHa, in Milwaukee. I got lucky – I had the opportunity to have small parts in three games over the course of one weekend, rather than getting rostered for a home game and maybe having to wait a month for the next one. I felt good afterwards, and definitely tired. I got some play as a relief jammer/chaos element, and managed to put points on the board, so I was definitely proud of that!
Slayna Scully: The first game I played with Gang Green I was nervous as HECK. I was worried that I was going to do everything wrong and throw up and die. But I went in, did generally ok, and did not throw up OR die. It was a huge success and I felt like a HERO.
Frida Killo: I was so nervous, but Scully always helps keep me calm BUT HYPE. Once I got out on the track, it was like “I’m good, I know how to do this thing.”
AllieCatastrophe: I was terrified and got tons of penalties, and kept getting them until like the last game I played of the season, lol.
Rennywise: I haven’t played in a game yet. I still need to pass my damn laps. I have had issues with my back and it has really held me back in derby. I’m working to correct the problems so I can get back on the track and do the damn things and pass the freaking laps.
Nick Tater: I played my first game with GG at BrewHaHa. I was really excited but also really nervous. I played much better than I expected, and it was really nice to get to play in 2 more games in the same weekend so I could put all of my reflections and feedback from the first game into the next ones almost immediately. Mostly I just felt lucky that I get to play on this team with these amazing humans, and my primary thought was that I really, really love playing roller derby.
Off the track, what jobs or roles do you hold in the league?
Frida Killo: I am part of the Membership Experience committee, and I handle WannaBe Clinic communication.
Peach Roulette: This year I was part of the Safety Committee (keeping things legit!), and I also jumped in to live tweet some of our games.
Rennywise: I get to be the assistant to the lovely Chainsaw, who is currently serving as the Executive Director of the league. I’m also involved in Finance helping out with tracking dues payments. And last, but not least, I’m on the venue search team.
Tone Cold: I am in the Revenue pillar and I help with ticketing things. Sheepskate is our pillar head and she is amazing! She does so much on her own that it makes it a lot less stressful than it probably would be without her.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: I run sound during games, and I help Higgs and Trix with graphic design things for Marketing!
AllieCatastrophe: Marketing and random things.
La Femme Fubar: Photographer coordinator. Official laminator – very high honor.
Slayna Scully: I am part of the Membership Experience committee and sometimes I fill in as a skating official as needed.
Nick Tater: I work in the Revenue pillar on the ticketing team. I handle tracking and facilitating league member ticket sales for all of our home bouts. I also work as a skating official for all the games I don’t play in and honestly, the best decision I ever made was when I started really committing to do double duty as a skater AND a skating official. I’ve learned so much I didn’t know about the rules, and could take my personal experiences as a player and incorporate it into my reffing. Getting to wear both hats (or helmets, I suppose) has given me such a deeper appreciation for all the pieces and parts that go into making derby happen. I’m more conscious in my gameplay because of what I’ve learned from officiating. I’m more intuitive in my officiating because of the knowledge of the game I have from playing.
What have you learned about yourself over the past year?
Tyrannosaurus Bex: I’m definitely not as put together and bold as I like to think I am. Derby is one of the more challenging things I’ve ever tried, and has definitely made me question my confidence and my scheduling abilities over the past year, but it’s also given me an outlet and introduced me to a bunch of super cool people who I would have never met otherwise.
Peach Roulette: I deeply appreciate that the complexity of derby puts me outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned a lot of new-to-me skating skills, and it’s marvelous that there is still so much to learn! Foremost I’ve learned that I can skate, and that it’s a teachable skill! Also that I can make decisions on the fly, under pressure.
AllieCatastrophe: That I truly love skating and missed it after being away from figure skating for so long. I have met some of the best friends, and I’m eager to see how this next season goes.
Tone Cold: I’m old…but more importantly, I can play this sport, maybe not as well as I would like to, but I CAN do it!
Frida Killo: I’m a 31 year old athlete! I’ve always scoffed at exercise and fitness, while trying to meet the impossible standards of society, but being part of OHRD has shown me that I am STRONG and more capable than I thought.
Rennywise: I’m stronger than I thought I was (even if I do cry sometimes when I think nobody is looking).
Nick Tater: It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Admit to yourself that you can’t do it all alone (quite literally, because derby as one individual human just doesn’t work) and allow those around you to teach and support you. Trust yourself and trust your teammates, both on and off the track. I also learned that I need to breathe and not accidentally hold my breath for full 2 minute jams because I’ll die.
Slayna Scully: That sports rule and I’m strong as heck.
What are your goals for intraleague season and/or next year?
Rollin’ Initiative: I’ve really been struggling both physically and mentally after surgery earlier this year. I want to push myself to get back to 100% so I can continue to learn and grow.
Rennywise: Take care of this back stuff and recover strong so I can get to it and kick some derby a**!
AllieCatastrophe: I want to focus on the basics and master them for my best possibilities. Once I get there, then I want to focus on more advanced techniques during game play and in practices.
Peach Roulette: Keep skating! Learn more skills, and dive deeper into the intricacies of the sport. Do what I can to support this strong and vibrant community.
Nick Tater: My goal for intraleague is just to have fun and enjoy getting to play in mixed packs with lots of amazing, experienced players that I can learn from, but might not normally get walled up with. Next year, I just want to keep working hard and trying new things, even if they’re scary or I don’t master them right away. Try to find something positive that I did in EVERY jam I play in, rather than always focusing on the negative and being so critical of myself.
La Femme Fubar: Get better, knock some people over.
Tone Cold: I want to be able to do a GOT DAMN hockey stop!!
Slayna Scully: I want to have fun, improve my overall fitness, and improve my strategy/plays.
Tyrannosaurus Bex: Next year my goal is to play in a game, despite the fact that being in front of a crowd scares the absolute s*** out of me.
Frida Killo: To continue to improve! Nail a hockey stop! Be someone my team can count on. Crush the opposition. Crush the patriarchy. Work on my mental game. Get STRONGER!!
Describe the 2019 rookie class in three words:
Rennywise: Dedicated. Strong. Family.
Nick Tater: Poetic, noble land-mermaids.
Frida Killo: Full of heart.
Slayna Scully: Sweet baby angels.
Peach Roulette: Hilarious. Driven. Brave.
Finally, what would you say to someone who’s interested in skating or thinking about trying out?
Rennywise: Please do yourself a favor and give it a shot. I promise to laugh in your face and not behind your back, and then we will all help you learn whatever it is you think you can’t do. You will surprise yourself.
La Femme Fubar: Do it, you’re not getting any younger. Don’t want to be my age when you start.
Frida Killo: JUST DO IT. Derby was there for me when I needed it the most, and I will forever be grateful, if in fact one can have gratitude for a sport.
Tone Cold: DO IT! I promise, you will be so happy you did!
Slayna Scully: DO IT! DON’T OVERTHINK IT! JUST GO FOR IT!
Tyrannosaurus Bex: DO IT DO IT DO IT.
AllieCatastrophe: if you go into this sport with expectations, you will be surprised in the best ways possible. You will do things you did not know you could do, and realize your strengths and weaknesses. You will learn how to overcome them and be the best version of you.
Peach Roulette: DO IT! It’s hard work, but it’s totally worth it. Roller derby is oddly specific in all the best ways.
Nick Tater: DO IT! You will learn so much and have the most fun and get to meet some of the most amazing, wonderful, impressive people.
Rollin’ Initiative: Do it!!! You won’t regret it!
Photos courtesy of Sheepskate and Chris Baker.