With the weeks ticking away to the 2015 rookies’ first year anniversary with the Ohio Roller Girls and tryouts for the new rookie class in October, we catch up with the 2015 rookies to see how their first year went and what tryouts were like for them. You will be hearing from Destroyer Pants, Last Call Ta’Killya, HardKore Lena, Slammerhead, Taylor Made, and BerMurder Triangle.

How did you hear about derby and how did you get into it?

Destroyer: I heard about roller derby though my cousin Candi Catastrophe who skated for the Long Island Roller Rebels, was one of the founders for the Hudson Valley Horrors, and reffed for Windy City. One summer she stayed with my family and I made her teach me how to skate. I wouldn’t be on 8 wheels without her!

HardKore: A friend saw a recruitment poster for the local league where I was living at the time, and told me she was interested in trying it out, but really needed moral support. She asked me to go check out a practice with her, so I did, and despite having exactly zero athletic ability, recovering from a knee injury, and not having skated in nearly 10 years, I wanted to try it for myself. I couldn’t stand upright on skates, fell over any time a veteran skater got too close to me, and spent more time picking myself up off the ground than skating—but I kept going back. After two and a half years with that team, I moved to Columbus, and here I am.

Slammerhead: I wanted to get back into a sport after graduating high school in 2011 and gaining some major weight. Of all places, I checked the Craigslist community forums and found an ad for the Central Ohio Roller Dolls (Mt. Vernon, OH) looking for skaters.

Taylor Made: I answered an ad on a base forum when we were stationed at RAF Lakenheath, England.  A spouse of a contractor on the base was involved with a team in Cambridge and I tagged along to watch and see what it was all about.  I was hooked from the start and wanted to jump right in that there and second.

Last Call: A previous player [Roulette Rose] wanted to start back up in rec league and wanted to know if anyone was interested in doing it with her, I jumped at the offer.  I ended up doing Rec League for about 5 months and then decided to try out for OHRG.

BerMurder: My derby journey started in 2010. I was working in retail and one day someone came in speaking about that Ohio Roller Girls were having tryouts that weekend, if I was interested. Living in Cleveland that seemed too far for me so I checked out Burning River Roller Derby. I did their fresh meat program for a few months before life got crazy and I had to drop out. Every few months it felt like something was missing in my life and it was derby. When I came back to Columbus I made sure to find Ohio Roller Girls and join, to get derby back into my life.

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What is the story behind your derby name?

Destroyer: My nick name in my family is Angie Pants so I knew I needed to have Pants in my name. My cousin thought of it and I never looked back.

HardKore: It’s a play on the various ways people have misspelled, mispronounced, and generally butchered my name. At first, it was also a projection of what I hoped derby would help me become; now, it’s a reminder of how far I’ve come in this sport, all the things I’ve accomplished that I never dreamed were possible, and to keep pushing to be better tomorrow than I am today.

Slammerhead: It was “SlamHer Down Brown” because I thought you needed your name in it, but then I decided “Slammerhead” because I have a huge love for hammerhead sharks!

Taylor Made: My derby name is a dedication to my sister who lost a child shortly after birth; her name was Taylor Ann and she born on Feb 14, Valentine’s day. So I choose the name Taylor for her and added Made as in I was tailor made for the sport.  My number is also her birth date, 2-14.

Last Call: My really good friends gave it to me because I LOVE tequila and I happen to be the last one to show up at our events and the last one to leave, so hence the name Last Call.

BerMurder: Someone murdered (pun intended) spelling my last name around the time I was trying to pick out a derby name, and I thought it was very fitting to pay homage to my last name, but also instill fear upon all those who I play against.

What is your favorite position to play on the track?

Destroyer: I have a love/hate relationship with jamming.

HardKore: I never thought I’d say this, but I love jamming & blocking about equally at this point. Until recently, I primarily blocked during games, only going in as a jammer if the regular jammer rotation was exhausted. I’m still working to become a more reliable jammer, but nothing feels quite so exhilarating as getting lead & racing around that track. It’s the most free and powerful and strong I’ve ever felt.

Slammerhead: Being an offensive blocker! I love helping my jammer get through the pack with little stress. 

Taylor Made: I love blocking but recently the jamming bug has bit me and I am keen to do that.

Last Call: Without a doubt it’s blocking.

BerMurder: I really enjoy blocking because I get to knock people around and I try to use my size as a strength. Though every once in a while I really enjoy jamming because it is a different mindset and also it gets my adrenaline going.

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How has your first year with OHRG been for you? What have you learned about yourself?

Destroyer: Amazing! OHRG is a team with some amazing and talented skaters. Everyone is extremely supportive and passionate about the sport. I have learned that I can do all of the things I thought I could never do. It is not an easy lesson to learn and it takes a lot of hard work, but nothing is impossible.

HardKore: I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy—but it has been really good. Coming from a very small league that was still experiencing growing pains to a well-established Division 1 league was a huge adjustment, both physically and mentally. I experienced a lot of frustration at my weaknesses, at having to unlearn bad habits, at feeling like I couldn’t keep up at practice. I cried all the way from practice more times than I can count. But I’ve also had so many breakthroughs in the past year. The biggest of all the big things I’ve learned is that to skate at this level, to be an athlete, I have to treat myself as an athlete. Proper nutrition, hydration, recovery, mental game, patience with myself, and cross training are absolutely crucial. If I don’t work hard off the track, I can’t give it all on the track.

Slammerhead: It’s been STRESSFUL! From the team I was on to OHRG was a huge freaking jump! Since being with OHRG, though, I really feel that my skating and derby skills have gotten much much better. Honesty, I feel like for the first 6 months I was physically and mentally tore down, but now I’m finally becoming more and more a part of the team—not just on the track, but off as well.

Taylor Made: I wish my first year was as exciting as the others who joined when I did but sadly, a few weeks after I joined, I went Beat Me Halfway and suffered a major injury which required surgery.  I have however found my footing as a volunteer until I can start to train and skate again.   I have learned that there is more to me than just being a skater; I have many talents to use as a non skater at the moment.

Last Call: Fantastic! I didn’t know how to do a crossover when I started and feel a million times more capable on skates than a year ago.  I enjoy the camaraderie, competitiveness and downright grit of playing derby.

BerMurder: It has been so wonderfully stressful with a dash of resilience. Some days it is hard to get myself to practice or the gym, but the strides I have seen this year in myself—confidence, life resiliency, and overall strength—makes it so worth it and keeps me coming back. What I have learned is to “keep pushing”, literally on the track but also myself off track as well, and when you get knocked down get your butt back up and go at it again.

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What was tryouts like for you?

Destroyer: Tryouts were not as hard as I thought it would be.

HardKore: I totally tried out on a whim, just for the experience of doing so. I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted as a rookie, but at some point during the process, I think part of me decided that I did actually want it, even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I remember being really, really intimidated, because some of my derby idols were running tryouts, and I fell right on my bum doing a simple plow stop.

Slammerhead: I don’t know, lol, I was a transfer.

Taylor Made: Tryouts were pretty good for me; I worked really hard to get myself to the point of trying out. It was a little intense and intimidating, as this was a higher ranked team than I had previously skated with and the second WFTDA team.

Last Call: Eye opening and terrifying.  It was several nights of new skating moments for me and ultimately rewarding.

BerMurder: I had been prepping myself since I got into Rec League that I was going to try out when the time came. When tryouts came I knew that was the time to layout all my awesome skills (aka not falling on my butt). It was a great experience though, and tried some new skills that I had not had much experience with.

What was Rec League like for you? How is being in Rec League different from being a rookie?

Destroyer: Rec was a great way for me to get back into derby. I skated with DDG and RCR a long time ago and the sport has changed a lot since then. It was really good to get reintroduced to the sport. Rec League is fun, but I feel like I learned so much in my rookie year I probably wouldn’t have learned though Rec.

Last Call:    Rec was crucial to my success with getting on OHRG.  It’s a perfect place for training that included skating skills, derby gameplay, strategy, and conditioning.  I highly recommend it for anyone interested in seeing if they have what it takes. As a rookie, we have to pass WTFDA skills and meet specific time trials to even play.  Understanding all the moving pieces and rules to playing derby is even more critical. The commitment is greater which yields more success.

BerMurder: Rec League is something I still participate in even with being a rookie. It is something that helps in seeing how far I have come, but also allows me to get to know many other up and coming skaters. It is always a highlight on Tuesdays for me. Being a rookie is different in level and expectations from Rec League, but that is why I enjoy both.

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What jobs do you have with OHRG?

Destroyer: I run ticketing, so you will always see me at the front door for our home bouts.

HardKore: I write for our website, specifically game recaps, and I love it.

Taylor Made: I am the co-bout producer along with Garden of Beatin; in August we successfully ran a triple header.  The feeling of accomplishing something like that is amazing.

Slammerhead: I’m in charge of collecting our game video and publishing it for our team to watch.

BerMurder: I oversee the OHRG website, am a WFTDA voting representative, and an insurance manager.

What has been your favorite memory so far while playing with OHRG?

Destroyer: Off skates workout with Yoga Booty Ballet (don’t ask). Also that one time I got 19 points in one jam.

HardKore: So many amazing things have happened this year that I can’t share them all, but my favorites involve situations where it hits me just how much all my hard work is paying off. Getting to play all three positions and make my home game debut with my fellow rookies during our last home game was phenomenal.

Taylor Made: While I haven’t been playing yet, my favorite memory is game day.The excitement from the players and fans is intense and electrifying.

Slammerhead: Driving to Florida with some pretty cool catsVal Holla and The Smacktivist!

Last Call: Afterparty arm wrestling!

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Is there any derby gear that you can’t live without?

Destroyer: I need all of the gear, but I guess I love my 187 knee pads because I use them all of the time.

HardKore: After a long-overdue skate upgrade, I can say that my Riedell 495s on Reactor Pro plates are by far the best derby gear I’ve ever had.

Slammerhead: My scabs that go under my knee pads!

Taylor Made: Notorious RED spray; it works wonders on derby funk.

Last Call:  My skates! “muah”

BerMurder: Probably my presto 91 wheels and my decked out helmet (shout out to the wonderful artists that helped decorate my helmet!). It has helped keep my noggin safe.

What is your favorite color?

Destroyer: Black

HardKore: Black, green, and teal.

Slammerhead: Teal!

Taylor Made: Surprisingly, it is a tie between purple and green.

Last Call: I don’t have one. I’m more of a contrasting-combination-of-colors person. Often times I just say black because it’s my clothing color of choice.

BerMurder: Green!

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Lastly, what is some advice for those that are interested in skating or trying out?

Destroyer: Do it! Don’t think about it, just do it. You will never regret it.

HardKore: Do it. The worst that will happen is you’ll decide it’s not for you. If it scares you, DEFINITELY do it. Trust me.

Slammerhead: Get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. You never know what could happen if you don’t try!

Taylor Made: Endurance, endurance, endurance.  Keep your cardio up because two minutes may not seem like a long time, but when you are giving 110% every jam you play, it can feel like eternity.  The way I see it is “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down” (Chumbawamba). A motto to live by.

Last Call:  Be open to constructive feedback, have a great attitude, and put forth continual effort!

BerMurder: In the famous words of Shia LeBouf, “DON’T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS, JUST DO IT!”

Interview by: BerMurder Triangle

Pictures by Joe Mac & BerMurder Triangle

Copyright 2013 Ohio Roller Girls // Photos by Dorn Byg, Earl Sod, Joe Mac, & Candace Moser-Stafford // All Rights Reserved