So, many of us are getting ready for the start of the season with many things to look forward to such as ECE and RollerCon 2009. Hope to see you all there! But before we jump ahead in anticipation, let’s look at what’s exciting coming up. On May 2nd, the New York Shock Exchange will be battling it out with the Dirty Dozen at the Enfield Dek Hockey Park in Enfield, CT.
And trust me…if it involves boys…I will be there ready to dish out all the derby gossip…on the rink of course!
I’m excited today to feature a special skater that I think all roller derby players, both men and women, can benefit from watching. He’s quick on his feet and has his head in the game at all times, thinking about how to win, but most importantly, how to have fun!
I now introduce you to NYSE’s one and only Rinkworm #11!!!
What is your skater name and #?
How did you come up with your derby name?
Well, I had ringworm (um, the totally gross bacterial infection) a couple of times as a kid and it's pretty darn annoying—I hope to be an annoyance to my opponents at the “rink” or something silly like that.
What inspired you to join men's roller derby?
I watched the ridiculous show Roller Games as a kid and knew I always wanted to play roller derby. Once I heard NY was forming a team, I bought quads.
How long have you been on the NYSE?
I played in our first bout, April 29th, 2007, against Pioneer Valley . I had no clue what I was doing...
What positions do you play and which ones do you enjoy the most? Why?
I'm mostly used as a Jammer, but I love playing Pivot most. Of course, scoring points while jamming is awesome, but you definitely get the credit that your blockers deserve. I like playing Pivot since you always have plenty of time to work with teammates in order to control the front of the pack, which is most important. I hate having points scored against me more than I love scoring points--so, that’s why I prefer playing Pivot.
I've seen you play and you are quite fast with some quick maneuvers. How did you learn to skate like that?
The Shock Exchange is littered with excellent instructors! Also, I've been fortunate to learn from some great skaters from all over the country on various aspects of the game. And, it was a while before I saw a diversity of skaters from all different backgrounds (Speed skating, Jam skating, Hockey, etc.) which are still influencing how I skate. Playing often has familiarized me with many scenarios and strategies and has helped me to find what works personally well for me.
What are your practices like? What kind of drills do you do and which are your favorite?
At the NY Shock Exchange practices, we typically do some basic things to polish our fundamentals and focus often on blocking with a partner. We always do some scrimmaging, whether it is a true “5 on 5” bout or practicing power plays/penalty killing. My personal favorites are endurance drills. All skaters should strive to be able to play at 100% from the first jam to the last jam.
What's the hardest skill you had to learn?
Actually, getting used to using my toe-stops was the hardest thing I had to learn. I never felt stable on them. Now, I couldn't imagine doing a jammer start without them.I'm also still working on a reliable and clean “hockey stop.”
Do you play sports or have played in the past where the skills you have learned there are transferable to derby? How so?
For baseball, I played shortstop and the act of "diving to catch the ball and getting up while repositioning the body" is key to quickly throw runners out. When I get hit by an opponent during a bout and go down, I try to get up in the most efficient manner It's really a matter of knowing how to shift your body weight while falling and using the momentum to your advantage. Obviously, you never “know” exactly when you are going to get hit, so you have to use that moment when you are going down to plan on where your knees and feet should ideally be for getting up. It's tough to 'teach'- I spent countless hours practicing my diving and getting back to your feet as quickly as possible to make a strong throw- I should thank my baseball coach!
From Tennis, I learned the importance of fast footwork to quickly stabilize the lower body to generate a powerful swing. Getting into your stable "derby stance" sooner from moving your feet faster obviously has its advantage. Plus, giving a teammate a standard whip has some similarity to swinging the racket except that giving a solid whip is WAY more fun!
Women's roller derby is a bit different than men's in terms of pace and techniques. Do you have any advice to share with the women's league that could help them in their endurance, speed and form?
All skaters should be regularly working on building muscles in their legs. It will make you skate faster and harder, as well as preventing injury.
Do you ever get nervous before a bout? What do you do to calm your nerves?
When I first started playing, I used to be a nervous mess for a day or so before a bout and before we would skate, I would just lie down, close my eyes and think about playing my best. But, I've been fortunate to play so often that I'm pretty comfortable with what to expect from a bout.
What do you consider to be the best part of roller derby and why?
Oh, wow, uh EVERYTHING! I had an answer about meeting awesome people while skating this insane sport, but I think everyone likes it because of that. But for me, it's seeing my parents smiling after a bout and making them proud.