With the weeks ticking to the 2016 rookies’ first year anniversary with the Ohio Roller Derby and tryouts for the new rookie class in October, we catch up with the 2016 rookies to see how their first year went and what tryouts were like for them. You will be hearing from Death CertifiKate, ElizaDEATH Rae, Lawless, LGBTease, and Miranda Slambert.
Death CertifiKate: A friend of mine from high school plays for the Dallas Derby Devils and I thought all of the photos she had shared on Facebook looked really cool. I hit up Google and looked for derby teams near me, found OHRD, attended some wannabe clinics and played with the rec league and then joined the team last October.
ElizaDEATH Rae: My Hall Director at Kent State University played roller derby with Akron Rubber City Roller Girls. She suggested I come out to a practice with them and I practiced with them for an entire summer. I had to quit while I was taking classes at Kent State. Once I graduated, I decided that where ever I get a full time job at, I’d find the nearest roller derby team and play full-time. Everything worked out playing roller derby with a wonderful group.
Lawless: I heard about derby long ago. My coworkers and I had joked about trying it and joked about derby names. Finally, my friend and I went to a wannabe clinic. I was still too scared, so I went to a few clinics over about a year’s time and then finally jumped in. It was around the time of team tryouts in 2014, so I started volunteering as an NSO and getting involved in rec league. Then in 2015, I worked up the courage to try out for the team.
LGBTease: It’s a long story, but basically it had been on my “I want to do that” list in the back of my mind forever and I kept forgetting about it until the opportunity placed itself right in front of me.
Miranda Slambert: I first discovered derby when I watched the movie Whip It and I fell in love. I immediately got on the internet to see if that was actually something that existed. I found this team and went to the Wanna Be Clinic immediately.
What is the story behind your derby name?
Death CertifiKate: I wanted my name incorporated into my derby name because I knew if I didn’t my teammates would be calling for me on the track and I wouldn’t respond. After playing around with some ideas Death CertifiKate was the winner.
ElizaDEATH Rae: My roller derby name ElizaDEATH Rae came to be because I wanted my derby name to include my real name. Family members and I were playing around with my name and eventually came up with death instead of Beth in Elizabeth. My middle name Rae can be like a Ray as in ray gun or death ray so ElizaDEATH Rae came to life.
Lawless: My friend came up with it. It’s a play on my last name and as well as my job.
LGBTease: I’m here, queer, and cheeky. The jersey number has historical value relating to the first stonewall riot 6/28/1969.
Miranda Slambert: No story really, I’m not even a huge country music fan, but I have always loved my first name and knew I wanted to turn it into a derby name somehow, and it just popped into my head one day.
What is your favorite position to play on the track?
Death CertifiKate: I looooooooovvvvvveeee jamming! Blocking is fun too but I really like the challenge that jamming brings, it’s a great mix of having to be able to read your team and the opposing team, being strong enough to keep pushing, and being quick enough to take those openings that are only around for a second.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Still learning the game, as of right now I do not have a favorite position. I play blocker mostly but enjoy jamming in practice scrimmages.
Lawless: That’s hard to choose. In games, I’ve only been a blocker, and it’s very exciting when you’re successful in holding the opposing team’s jammer back. But when I get to be jammer in practices, it’s just as fun to try to find way to plow through the other team’s pack. I love the challenge that both provide.
LGBTease: All of them! I would really love to develop as a jammer, but blocking with my teammates is fun, too. Derby is a blast no matter what you’re doing.
Miranda Slambert: I love everything, but being a blocker is probably my favorite because of the teamwork and getting to use my big hips 😉
How has your first year on the OHRD been for you? What have you learned about yourself?
Death CertifiKate: My first year has been a blast! I got to play in quite a few games this season and met some truly awesome people. As for what I’ve learned about myself I’d say before derby I was pretty awful at expressing myself (I’m still not great but I’m better!) and derby has taught me to be more confident.
ElizaDEATH Rae: My first year on OHRD has had its ups and downs. There is a lot of learning about the sport of derby during the first year. Including, rules, derby stance, balance on skates, different defensive and offensive plays and so much more. There is a challenge you put yourself through fighting to expert different moves on skates to be used during the game. You realize later, through repetition and perfection, the move will just come to you without even thinking about it. So there is a fight to not give up or put yourself down because in time you will have the moves down you need to progress to the next level of derby skater. Every year you’ll perfect something about your skating or derby game. You’ll never stop learning, pushing and striving to be a better role derby player than the year before.
Lawless: This first year has been amazing. It’s so hard to believe that my rookie year is over! I’m so thankful to be a part of OHRD, and learn from our vets. We have awesome trainers that have really pushed us and helped me become a better player. I’ve never thought of myself as an “athlete” but now I guess I am.
LGBTease: It’s been challenging and rewarding in a lot of ways. I struggled a lot with passing my 27/5 for months, but when I got it I had gotten almost a whole extra lap done in five minutes. I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more capable than I have originally thought.
Miranda Slambert: My first year has been great, I did Rec League for one year before I joined the team, so luckily I had a little bit of a head start. I have definitely learned that I can push myself harder that I would have ever thought. I struggled a little more than most with the 27/5 (doing 27 laps in 5 minutes) but I kept working at it and pushing myself to try whenever I had a chance and when I finally passed, I wanted to cry tears of joy. I was very proud of myself.
What was tryouts like for you?
Death CertifiKate: Nerve-racking! Before tryouts I had attended two rec league practices and three scrimmages so I was really worried I wouldn’t be good enough but the trainers were great and full of advice and support so by the end I was feeling much better.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Tryouts were intimidating at first but ended up not being bad at all. If you be yourself, show how bad you want to be on the team and strive to be the best team player you can be you will have no problem making the team.
Lawless: I was pretty nervous, but I remember trying to push myself. At one point, I tested my limits and I actually jumped over a cone on skates and didn’t fall (for the first time)!
LGBTease: I really psyched myself out about them, but they weren’t as difficult as I had anticipated.
Miranda Slambert: Tryouts were actually pretty nerve racking lol reading the paperwork before, then seeing all the drills we had to do I thought man even though I have already been in Rec League for a year I might not make it! But by day two it wasn’t so bad, and everyone was helpful and friendly.
What was Rec League like for you?
Death CertifiKate: Rec league was lots of fun. It helped set a good foundation for me skills-wise and in learning the rules.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Being a part of Rec league was great. I had a whole year to practices the basics and the skills I needed to make the roller derby team. You had tons of support and guidance from you fellow Rec league players. Rules of the game were broken down, simplified and explained at a level to easily understand. The trainers were always available for advance in how to better yourself and your game. Everyone on Rec League was positive and encouraging, just a fun atmosphere to take part in. Great bonds and friendships came from Rec league.
Lawless: Rec league was a wonderful experience for me. I’ve made some awesome friends within rec league, and it gave me the time and space to learn the basics of skating and of derby. …But also a huge shout out the awesome NSO who taught me the most about the rules: GalvaTron :*
Miranda Slambert: Rec League was AWESOME. It’s such a great way to start out in the sport and give it a try to see how you might like it. Plus Wendra and Cookies are great teachers and make it so much fun.
How is rec league different than being a rookie?
Death CertifiKate: In rec league most people are around the same skill level so it’s a great place to learn the basics. When you join the team as a rookie you’re playing with people of all sorts of skill levels and you learn all kinds of cool skills from playing with and watching them.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Being a rookie has a lot more expectations and responsibilities than being one Rec league. You really get to know the people in your rookie class and you create a special bond with them. The bond is from doing, learning, and growing together. As rookies gets the opportunity to play in OHRD games, home or away. A rookie gets the opportunity to start close friendships with gang green and Charter Team players. What’s great about starting in rec-league and trying out for OHRD is the opportunity to make the team with those on rec-league and go through the roller derby player transition together. You’ll create a great bond and lots of joyful memories.
Miranda Slambert: Well it’s a way bigger commitment lol but it’s worth it because you get to learn and practice even more.
What jobs do you have with OHRD?
Death CertifiKate: I’m on the safety and recruiting committees.
ElizaDEATH Rae: The jobs I have with OHRD is Community Volunteer Coordinator and Inner Team Social Coordinator. I schedule community service opportunities for OHRD players to part take in and give back to the community. The inner team social events for the players to bond outside of roller derby and kick back together. This job is rewarding because you get to bring players closer together, then the players closer together with the community and the community closer to the players. It’s nice to get to meet new people and get to know them on a personal level through an experience you share.
Lawless: I’ve worked with Val Holla this year as Event Coordinator, helping set up events and fundraisers.
LGBTease: I run our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Miranda Slambert: I have recently taken on the role of Press Release, and Community Relations Manager.
What has been your favorite memory so far while playing with OHRD?
Death CertifiKate: On June 11th I got to jam in a game!!! It was the day before my birthday and I was just psyched to get to wear the star panty during an actual game but then I managed to get lead jammer and I scored 4 points!!
ElizaDEATH Rae: Favorite memory so far was passing the 27/5. Passing the 27/5 for the first time is the best internal relief you will experience in derby but at the same time you will feel the most exhausted physically. You will feel like you can’t catch your breath and you may have to be carried home after practice. I know 27/5 will get easier with time.
Lawless: Oh man- there are too many! Playing in my first game is definitely a memorable one! I didn’t think I’d get to play as much as I did this year, so each game was very exciting. Also, traveling with the team for our away games was such an awesome experience. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
LGBTease: At a scrimmage one time I was able to successfully spin around a wall of charter skaters on the inside line without cutting.
Miranda Slambert: My favorite memory would have to be when they called my name to play in a bout for the first time. I had to sit out of the first couple because I hadn’t passed the 27/5 yet, so when I was finally rostered to play and they called my name for my first jam it was great. I had friends and family there watching and it was an amazing feeling to finally get to use the skills that I had been working so hard on.
What are some goals that you have for next year?
Death CertifiKate: I definitely want to improve in my lateral movement and speed this next season. I also want to jump the apex while jamming at least one time because it looks super cool.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Become closer to my teammates. Get to know OHRD fans. Perfect basic skills including different ways in stopping. Strengthen all muscles. Learn new strategies as a blocker or jammer. Learn from my teammates.
Lawless: I’d say the biggest is to keep up my progress. I’d love to be able to play as much next year and continue to see my skill set grow.
LGBTease: To make rosters and exceed my own expectations.
Miranda Slambert: Goals for next year definitely include working on apex jumps, and passing the 27/5 sooner so I can play in as many bouts as possible!
Is there any derby gear that you can’t live without?
Death CertifiKate: My helmet. It keeps my brain safe.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Derby gear you cannot live without would be color coordinating accessories including bandanas, socks, spandex shorts, and sports bras.
Lawless: So far, I’m not really ride or die with any specific brand, but I would say that now I’ll probably always wear knee pads whenever skating, even if it’s just at the rink. Haha.
LGBTease: All of it! But in particular, my collection of cat themed athletic shorts is growing and I definitely need those.
Miranda Slambert: I learned the hard way to not live without really really good padded knee pads lol I waited way too long to replace my first worn out pair that I thought I had torn my meniscus from falling on my knee the wrong way with not enough padding. Luckily it felt better after a couple weeks!
What is your favorite color?
Death CertifiKate: It changes a lot but I’ve been really into red lately.
ElizaDEATH Rae: Favorite color is green. So, luckily our team color is green, which makes my life easier color coordinating for games.
Lawless: It’s always been green.
LGBTease: Turquoise (and green!)
Miranda Slambert: My favorite color is red. Green was actually one of my least favorite colors, but I’ve come around to it!
Lastly, what is some advice for those that are interested in skating or trying out?
Death CertifiKate: Derby is a sport where everyone improves at different rates. You can’t be too hard on yourself or spend your time comparing yourself to others, as long as you’re giving it your best you’re going to be amazing!
ElizaDEATH Rae: Those who are interested in skating or trying out do it. You will fall in love with the sport and the best group of derby players you could ever ask for. You will have 100% support from all your new teammates. You will learn, grow, laugh together, then go head to head against each other and always come out as friends at the end of every practice, scrimmage, and game day. You’ll meet players you hang out with on a regular bases and become best of friends. Whatever life throws your way; your teammates will be there to bring you up when you’re down or be there to laugh out loud with you when things are good. You will grow as an individual and be able to more than you thought you could do as a derby player. There is always some move offensive or defensive that you will have you perfect and your teammates are there every step of the way. Pushing you, encouraging you, challenging you and at the end of the day you get out of roller derby what you put into it. So, ask yourself one question…Where do I sign up?
Lawless: Do it! It’s been life changing for me. I’ve had a blast, made amazing friends, and gotten physically and mentally stronger. I recommend it to anyone! We’ve got some amazing people and you won’t regret joining OHRD!
LGBTease: Skating is fun and if you don’t feel ready to dive in, try our clinics and rec league! For tryouts: eat something light but nutrient dense, try coconut water, take some deep breaths. you’ve got this! Let’s be friends!
Miranda Slambert: I would say please please please at lease try it! It’s a little overwhelming at first when you hear about all of the time commitment, I even had my doubts at first but it’s really not that bad and totally pays off. Everyone on the team is so welcoming, helpful and fun. Being on this team has been one of my greatest accomplishments, and I’m always proud to tell people that I’m an Ohio Roller Derby girl!
Photos by: Joe Mac, Matthew Hatcher, and BerMurder Triangle