The 2014 rookie class has been logging hour after hour of practice, but they took a few minutes out of their training time to answer a few questions. You’ll be hearing from Blankitty Blank It, Chestburster, Dana Nolan, Hope Dela Vega, Leslie Piatt, Tasha Cookies, and TWrex.
1. How did you find out about roller derby?
Tasha Cookies: For years, I secretly wanted to join but didn’t have the guts. I would shyly talk to the skaters manning the Ohio Roller Girls booth at ComFest or go to see an exhibition bout at the Ohio State Fair. Then, out of the blue, a good friend asked if I wanted to go to a Wannabe Clinic for some fun exercise. We went, had a stinkin’ blast (and I do mean stinkin’), then couldn’t walk right for a week afterward. Despite the sweat and pain of that first clinic, I was hooked on derby. My friend, not so much. It took me awhile to get up the nerve to go back to a clinic… alone. Then another one, then another one, then another one, and so on. Then I finally joined Rec League.
Hope Dela Vega: A friend was a mascot for the Carolina Roller Girls and told me about derby. I then went to a flat track bout in San Diego when I was living there–the Derby Dolls were playing flat track only at the time (before they went bitraxual). I just knew I had to play, despite the whole “not knowing how to skate” thing.
Blankitty Blank It: I was an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Helena, Montana, and they were starting a team, the Hel’z Belles. Wasn’t into skating in my younger years, but I watched a practice and had to try it.
2. What made you decide to try out?
Chestburster: I was looking for a new active hobby and, after I came out to a Wannabe clinic, I was hooked; it was challenging and so much fun!
Leslie Piatt: I’d previously retired after a short time due to starting a new job and having work commitments that kept me from dedicating more time to the league. I tried out again once I thought I had more time to devote and something to offer the league.
TWrex: I was on the OH! Rec League for a while. I liked what I was accomplishing. I really wanted to push myself farther.
Blankitty Blank It: I love the sport but I have been moving around a bit over the last couple years. I’ve been able to practice with two other great teams during my moves, the Hel’z Belles and Cincinnati Roller Girls, but unfortunately haven’t been able to be with them long. I moved to Columbus about a year ago, and now that I’m settled in, I needed to get back into derby. I feel lucky to have moved to a city with many talented, smart skaters, and welcoming, supportive team. I’m finally at a place I think I’ll be at for a while, and so I am excited to be able to grow and really build up my skills.
3. What was the hardest part about try-outs?
Blankitty Blank It: The Gotham knee drags!
Chestburster: The unknown aspect: not knowing who I would be up against, what I would need to do, or how I was doing.
Tasha Cookies: The nerves. On Rec League, I had given myself a year to get ready, but I had also given myself a year to get all wound up. Add to that the intense stares of my roller girl idols as they judged my every move… Sometimes my legs would just start twitching uncontrollably from the tension.
4. Have you chosen a derby name yet? If so what is it and what does it mean to you?
Tasha Cookies: Tasha Cookies! As in, I’m gonna hit you so hard you’ll toss ya cookies! Other than being a fierce threat, it works on sooooo many levels. I really wanted an old-school nickname, like Betty or Dotty or Tootsie or something a sailor might call his sweetheart in a WWII flick. That’s when “Cookies” popped into my head. In my earliest sports memory, I remember my third grade softball coach calling me a tough cookie. Cookie Monster was always my fave on Sesame Street. And I bake a ton of cookies every Christmas (like, at least a thousand cookies, for real).
Chestburster: Chestburster, chosen from my love of the Alien franchise.
TWrex: TWrex, it’s a variation of one of my nicknames.
Hope Dela Vega: When I played with the San Diego Derby Dolls and a short stint with WFTDA league, SoCal Derby, also in San Diego, my moniker was “Hope U Gots Medical.” When I came here, I decided a new name (my real name) would go perfect with a new league. I still hope you have health insurance coverage, though.
5. Do you have a number yet? Does your number have a significant meaning to you?
Leslie Piatt: M240G is my number. It’s the nomenclature for a machine gun that the USMC uses. It’s awesome, because even though I knew it’d never happen I think about having to carry it for my team when I’m training to keep me working hard.
Hope Dela Vega: 75. Originally it was “cz75” named after the Czech Republic-made pistol. I dropped the “cz” cause why make things harder for the refs. Thanks for all you do, refs!
Blankitty Blank It: 87. The year I made it out of the womb.
Tasha Cookies: 13. It’s my birthday, and therefore, my lucky number. But it’s also a baker’s dozen to keep in line with the cookie theme.
6. What has been your favorite derby moment so far?
Hope Dela Vega: Meeting derby players from all over. Watching the sport grow and amazing athletes constantly changing and progressing the game. Playing both banked and flat track. And starting/coaching junior derby in San Diego. Yeah, that was my favorite moment. I’m excited to watch derby’s continued growth with players who started skating/learning the sport as kids.
TWrex: Going through a whole practice without landing on my tush!
Chestburster: My first mixed team scrimmage!
Tasha Cookies: It seems like a cop-out answer, but there really are too many favorites to pick a single moment. Just sharing the track with some damned awesome skaters is an honor. The fact that these fine women also want to teach me how to be a better skater is icing on the… cookie? (Boo, I know. I can’t resist a pun.)
7. What is like being OHRG fresh meat?
Blankitty Blank It: To me it’s a range from excitement and to a deer in a headlight, but always an adrenaline rush.
TWrex: The league has been great thus far, everyone has been helpful, invested in me, and supportive of me putting my new skills to use. I have had some frustrations as far as making my body do what I know it can do.
Leslie Piatt: Rookies are at a much higher level than when I first made the team in 2010. It’s awesome. Sometimes I pinch myself when I realize the league we just happen to skate with is also a top team in the world!!!
8. Did you play other sports before derby?
Chestburster: Rugby and running.
TWrex: Rec softball.
Hope Dela Vega: Little league baseball with the boys for a couple summers (I wanted to do what my brother was up to), then softball, volleyball, and tennis growing up. Every time I moved to a new city (Boston, San Francisco, San Diego…) I continued with those sports recreationally, along with flag football and boxing, jiu jitsu, and Muay Thai (kickboxing), snowboarding, skim boarding… Tried surfing a handful of times, but I’m not a strong swimmer so that endeavor was short-lived.
9. What is your spirit animal?
Blankitty Blank It: Kevin, the bird from Up. Or a cat.
Chestburster: A shark.
Hope Dela Vega: My sister’s puggle, Bugs. Best dog ever.
Leslie Piatt: A tarantula!
Tasha Cookies: An elephant.
TWrex: Dinosaur, of course!
Interview by Chainsaw. Photos by Chainsaw and Dorn Byg.