Meet a Dame: Ruff N Tuff

It all started on a cold day in December.  I was born to a young, brave woman named Jeannie.  She did the best she could with me. Before I could walk I was wrestling the bear cubs that lived by our cabin. 
 
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We lived in the forests above the small town of Paskenta in Northern California with no neighbors for miles.  My playground was endless. Some of my favorite things to do we tying rattlesnakes together and laughing as they tried to slither away, wrestling matches with the grizzly bear family that lived nearby, and surprising the mean old mountain lion with the occasional bucket of cold water.  I had to run like my heels were on fire and my ass was catching. As I grew older my yearning for bigger adventures grew as well. Finally the day came my mother hugged me goodbye and off I went. 
 
I traveled for months, following game trails through valleys and foothills long forgotten.  Eventually I came upon the small town Red Bluff that had promise of a warm bath and a good meal. That’s where I met my derby wife Lil Pass-a-fist. 
 
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She is a hard hitting, toe stop skipping, bad mama jammer. She taught me to read and write, cleaned me up, and made me presentable. Basically she had to teach me how to behave in civilized society. Of course I had to teach her a few things too; frog giggin is our favorite. 
 
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Together we played hard, but derbyed harder.  My love for roller derby is endless and my ass kickery level grows with every practice. My derby journey has truly only started and becoming a Sioux City Roller Dame has completed another step in it. Derby or die!!
 
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- Ruff N Tuff

The Hottest Bar in Town Just Got Hotter!

The Blue Ribbon Tap is adding a new fixture to its vintage  decor: the Roller Dames! The bar, which just opened on Pearl Street in May, is the best place in town to knock back $2 cans and draws of PBR, Hamm’s and Keystone (you can also get a bottle of Sierra Nevada or Fat Tire, if you absolutely can’t bear to drink out of aluminum).

Join the Dames after our home bouts in the shag-laden and decidedly old school indoor bar or outside on the patio/smoking lounge.

The Blue Ribbon Tap is located at 415 Pearl Street, with free weekend street parking and a garage right across the street. We’ll see you there!

Upgrading Skates By Eat Schmidt

Meet your new skates!

Meet your new skates!

Coming in as a fresh meat or just a newer skater, the question always comes up, “What skates/gear should I get and does it really make a difference in my skating ability?”  When I started skating a year ago, I knew nothing about skates, pads, helmets, or much about derby at all.  I quickly learned that skates are not just skates and helmets are not only about finding the coolest color or most comfortable one.  Getting the right skates and gear is important to your success and safety as a derby player.  Now top end skates do not make you a good skater, hard work and dedication can make you a good skater, but having the right skates can help you take that next step and get to the next level in your skating ability.

When I decided to upgrade my skates, I looked into a lot of different options and at first it looked like a lot of gibberish.  Every person had their own opinion and preference of boots and plates.  The first thing I looked for was a new boot because the one I was on was a teammate’s that was almost 2 sizes too big and formed to her feet not mine.  It is important to take care of your feet and so a good boot is essential for skaters.  I debated between getting the super light Bont boot or go with an Antik boot.  I ended up going with an Antik MG2 boot over a Bont boot because of the higher ankle support and overall padding.  The Antik MG2 took some time to figure out the lacing that worked best with my foot, but I had almost no break in time and had no more foot pain while skating.  I would recommend changing the laces out on the boot, but otherwise I love the Antik boot.

After I picked my boots out, I started researching plates and soon realized that there is a plethora of information to learn about plates.  I knew I wanted a light plate and that I didn’t want a plastic plate, but other than that I had no idea.  Currently I was skating on a powerdyne nylon plate with  10 degree metal trucks.  I debated whether I should stick with the same angle trucks or move on to a 15 or 45 degree truck.  The 10 and 15 degree trucks offer more stability but less ability to cut on the track while the 45 degree trucks flex differently allowing the skater to make sharper turns and cuts.  I decided to go with the Avenger magnesium plate that has a 45 degree truck on it because I was looking to improve my cutting and footwork on the track.  This plate has been instrumental in improving my skating abilities.  The 45 degree angle has helped me more easily and fluidly cut across the track which helps not only for jamming but becoming a better blocker.   The allen wrench tightening mechanism also helps keep toe stops locked in and easily adjustable so that you do not lose a toe stop while on the track. The plates also help with overall agility and the ability to do crisp sharp movements while on the track.  The plates did take a couple practices for me to get use to because the different angle takes some time to get comfortable with.

I did fall quite a few times when I got my new boots and plates because I had to learn to balance a little differently, but now I feel like they are an extension of my legs and I can’t imagine going back to my old skates.  If you are a newer skater, looking to upgrade, or just feel like you skates are limiting you on the track, a plate or boot upgrade can help you become the skater you want to be.

Eat Schmidt

Mayday Mayhem by Eat Schmidt

What is better than over 24hrs of team traveling, mountains, fresh air, roller derby, and an armpit hair growing contest?  Well I would have to say not much.  This past weekend the dames traveled out to Greeley Colorado to participate in the Mayday Mayhem Tournament put on by the Slaughterhouse Derby Girls.  The weekend started out with 8 eager teams from all over the US even including Hawaii competing for the coveted Mayday Mayhem Trophy.

Way to stay in bounds and get that point, Funsize! (Photo courtesy of Pixel This Photography)

The Dames first and only bout on Friday was against Pacific Roller Derby.  Even though many of us were lacking sleep and a little stiff from traveling, the team pulled ahead quickly and ended the first half with a score of 238 to 4.  At the end of the bout, the Dames had our first victory of the weekend with a score of 370 to 51.  Saturday we kept the momentum going, pulling out 2 more wins against Slaughterhouse Derby Girls with a score of 363 to 104 and Cheyenne Capidolls with a score of 372 to 79.

Sum Mo Payne gets ready to dance her way through the pack on a power jam. (Photo courtesy of Pixel This Photography)

With both games being finished early afternoon, we headed down to Denver to watch the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls take on the Minnesota Roller Girls All-star team.   The Denver bout was inspiring and fun to watch.  With derby overload, we absorbed as much derby knowledge as we could and got even more pumped up for the bouts ahead.

Anita Spur sneaks by while Dubbs, The Annihilatrix and T-Vicious pester Junction City’s jammer. (photo courtesy of Pixel This Photography)

After another restful night of sleep, the dames traveled back to the Kill Floor to finish out the tournament.  We started out Sunday morning with a bout against the Foco Girls Gone Derby, and pulled out another win with a final score of 234-100.  The final championship game pitted the Dames against Junction City Roller Dolls out of Junction City, Utah.  Junction City put up a tough fight but could not get the win.  The Dames took the championship game with a score of 299-147, and PBR brought home a well-deserved MVP trophy.

The Dames all cuddled up with the very pointy championship trophy. In other news, Anita Spur can levitate. (Photo courtesy of the Sioux City Roller Dames)

All of the Dames that traveled to Colorado this past weekend not only showed their honed skills on the track, but also played with intense passion on the track.  The Mayday Mayhem tournament treated us well with amazing reffing and announcing crews, great teams, and a fun derby filled weekend.  The Dames showed true Dames dedication by playing through injuries, equipment failures, blisters, exhaustion, altitude and the embarrassment of hairy armpits.  I am proud to be a part of this amazing team and would not change any of it.

I am The Annihilatrix.

I haven’t always been The Annihilatrix. I laced up my first pair of derby skates in 2008. For a couple months, I was just Andrea and I had a pair of shiny white skates with pink wheels. For a couple months, I was an attorney new to Sioux City and I didn’t know anyone in town except my husband and a handful of coworkers.

I decided to buy a cheap pair of dance skates and meet these girls on this brand new team. I figured I would make some friends, and then go back to being not athletic and not very good at skating. And then after about two months, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, and I certainly couldn’t be “Andrea” on the track. What kind of derby name is that?

I racked my nerd brain and settled on a name and number that no one on my team understood. I quickly realized there was no reason to try to explain to them that I got my name from this great show, Frisky Dingo, that barely anyone watched and was already cancelled. I didn’t bother to explain that my number was Mulder’s apartment number on The X-Files, but before that it was from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I didn’t have to explain because it didn’t matter—these girls accepted me, nerdiness and all, and have allowed me to become even nerdier. (There’s RULES in derby! And STRATEGY! All sort of things my nerd brain loves!)

To my astonishment, I became a pretty good player. And everyone told me that my derby ass was lethal! There are rumors of people being scared of me on the track. (I’m not really that scary, but if someone wants to believe it, I’ll keep the myth alive.) I joke that I go out on the track and annihilate the other girls, and it sure does help me feel like a menace on the track.

I took a year off last year to have a baby. Once I was pregnant and couldn’t skate, I realized that being The Annihilatrix was a lot more than being able to skate a couple times a week. And now that I am back to skating, I know that I will always be The Annihilatrix even after I’ve retired. Derby has a way of changing a person, and the experiences I’ve had have changed me for the better. Or at least for the nerdier. I consider that a good thing.

 

What’s My Name? by Katomic Fireball

My name is Katrina Rothra.

My name is also Katomic Fireball.

This wasn’t my given name of course, but one of the many wonderful things about being in roller derby is that you get to create a whole new persona for yourself. One of the most exciting times for a new girl is when they finally get to pick out their very own derby name. It may be easy for some to come up with a name, but for others like myself it took days (maybe weeks) to come up with something that just sounded right.

Of course many people don’t understand what Katomic Fireball means. Time after time again I have been asked what my derby name is by people interested by the sport. Whenever I told them all that caught on to them was the fireball part. “Oh that’s cool” is the usual response. I of course normally just smile and nod, then continue to try and convince them to come and see us play.

When it came time for me to choose a name for myself in derby, I tried many approaches. I tried to come up with something that was clever, but sadly I am not that witty. I tried asking people who were not involved in the derby community, but this did not end quite so well because to this day my fiancé will not stop calling me the Beaver Weaver. Finally though, I asked the right person on their opinion for a name that would suit me. My father, Captain Booya of the Phoenix Rattleskates, combined something that I loved with my name.

What is a Katomic Fireball though? Well quite simply I am a small round spicy cinnamon candy! …. Well not exactly. That would be an Atomic Fireball. This candy, made in 1954, had been a staple in my diet for the past few years. It was delicious, cheap, and for some unknown reason I liked the way that it made my mouth numb after popping about 5 or 6 of them. You can compare that numbing feeling to being hit on the same spot in your shoulder too many times. Another thing that draws me to them is the explosion of pain and spice that you receive when you first taste it, but eventually it melts down to a sweet and pleasant flavor. It is much like being on the track and beating the living snot out of each other, but being best friends later at the after party.

Coming back to present day, I actually respond when people call me Katomic. I don’t have to look around to see if they were talking to someone else because it has become a part of my life that I am very happy to have. Without being Katomic Fireball, I would just be sitting around night after night with myself wishing that I could be out there doing something worthwhile.

 

To Skate or Not to Skate by Zebracakes

It all started two seasons ago when I attended my first bout (D3 vs SCRD) and I was immediately sold on this roller derby thing.  It was exciting, it was new, and it was full of colorful people.  I was drawn in and knew it was something I had to be part of.  I still remember the exhilaration and fear of going to my first informational meeting.  I wasn’t a friend, or even a friend of a friend.  I knew nobody in the derbyverse.  I was an outsider.  These were complete strangers to me and I knew this was a potentially life-altering decision:  to skate or not to skate.
What I found in derby was the most accepting group of people I’ve ever encountered in my life.  I am constantly reminded of how great the decision was to join a roller derby team and what a positive effect it has had on my life.  The past year and a half of my life has been full of change, some of it positive and some of it negative, but all of it has made me a better person as well as a better skater.
A year and a half ago I could barely stand on my skates without falling over (it’s true, ask anybody) and now I’m to the point where I’m working on improving my crab skating, something I never thought I’d be able to do.  I’ve come a long way in the relatively short time I’ve been skating, but there is so much more for me to learn.  Whether it’s at the local rink or at practice there is always something to work on or something new to try.  What’s funny is that it turned out learning to skate was the easy part.
In addition to learning how to skate I’ve also been responsible for reading (and re-reading), understanding, and enforcing the rules of roller derby.  That’s right, I’m a referee (insert boos and hisses here).  In derby, like in life, I am curious and want to understand, whether it’s strategies, rules, or skills.  I like to think that I’m a resource for the teams with which I’m affiliated, and I love it when I can help them out when they have questions.  I also enjoy going on the road and meeting different ref crews and working with new and seasoned refs.  It all makes me better.
The toughest, and I think most important, part of the reffing game for me is attitude.  It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I actually feel confident while I project a confident exterior at the same time.  I’ve been screamed at by coaches and fans who either thought they saw something that didn’t happen, or flat-out didn’t know the complete rules of a situation.  I’ve also caught an earful for a call I should have made but didn’t.  No matter the cause, the reaction must be the same every time:  I have to maintain a professional and respectful attitude.  Anything else is unacceptable.  And in the passionate world of derby, it sometimes takes an effort to maintain that attitude.
My goals this year are to continue to hone my skills, both skating and reffing, and apply for WFTDA referee certification.  I will keep a positive attitude along the way and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Looking back I’m still not entirely sure why I’m here, I just know that I need to be here.  I’m very proud to be part of such a great group of people and I’m excited to see where roller derby takes me next.  And all of it was made real because I decided to go to that informational meeting.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.
Zebracakes

Save our Melons! by Funsize

As some of you may not know, the dames have been doing some serious fundraising. And for what might you ask? TO SAVE OUR MELONS! Our 1st home bout of the season (Feb. 23rd) will be our new hockey helmets bout day debut. We chose to go with the Bauer 7500 hockey helmet (below). They are super awesome! They’ve got neat little gadgets on the sides that allow you to get a nice snug fit to your head and great squishy padding on the inside.
Why did the Dames choose the Bauer 7500 hockey helmets over regular skate helmets you may ask? Well, after having one of our girls suffer a very serious concussion during a bout, we took a look into what helmets we were all skating in. I, myself, a 5th season veteran was skating with the same helmet that I started the league with. Now, as a veteran skater , I really should know better. I mean , would I skate on the same knee pads for 5 seasons? Heck no! So I had to ask myself why am i using a helmet that I had to re-glue the padding in??? That’s just silly!
These new helmets took a little getting used to. They are QUITE snug until you break them in, and mine gave me a little headache the first couple times I wore it. The snap on the chin strap takes a few wears to loosen up , but after your initial break in, you FEEL SAFER (at least I do). As intense as the game of roller derby is becoming I encourage all teams to take a look at your equipment and really think to yourself “If i fall, is this really going to keep me from injury?” I sincerely hope the answer is yes because there is nothing scarier than watching a girl be removed from the track.
PS: I also got a face mask to save my money maker, but i will save that story for another time.
Derby Love,
Funsize #410

Don’t Look At the Score By Muaw Ha Ha

I surrender!

                Roller Derby, like any sport is very, very competitive.  Girls and guys, bust their butts, arms, legs, and even their balls to play this amazing game.  It is all about winning and about being the best for them!  These men and women are driven by stats, awards, recognition, and shear love of the sport; mostly… love of the sport.  They are, in my opinion, complete and utter die hards!  They are the driving force that makes me want to be better, faster, and stronger.  They are my role models and they are the back bone of every good team.  However, since I am sharing my opinions… they are also… absolutely… the craziest people I will ever have the great pleasure of bouting with.

Though I consider myself a bit of a derby fanatic, I would not classify myself as competitive.  I have had a long/short life filled with close calls, disappointments, and amazing achievements.  These seemingly unrelated events have taken me to a place in my life where… I just want to have fun.  Enter Roller Derby!!!  I love every unbelievable minute of bouting, practice, and hanging with my derby peps.  I love the rules, strategies, and plotting of every possible scenario (weather they are questionably legal or not).  This is not because I want to win or crush the other team, but because I want to live and have fun. Though I love you derby die hards; sometimes I wish you could feel the freedom of not knowing the score… just like me.

This is a foreign concept to some.  My sister, for example, is the amazing women who introduced me to roller derby and all the awesomeness that comes with it.  She is strong, smart, genuinely cares for others, and has to be… by far… the most competitive person I have ever meet in my life.  We all know someone like her.  There is no such thing as a friendly game of cards, race to the end of the block, or in this case… roller derby.

Example:  My very first roller derby mixer was held over the thanksgiving holiday.  My sister, playing for the other team, lines up in front of me.

“Hey,” I say with a smile, “you’re doing awesome… love you!”

She responds… “Mehh…” with a shoulder shrug, and proceeds to tell me how we shouldn’t even talk to each other since we are on different teams.

I laughed at first.  She just stared at me.   She was dead serious.  Not going to lie… I was a little scared of her at that moment.  This competitiveness, however, is what makes her an amazing roller derby player.  It also makes her very intimidating.  I long to be that fierce about my convictions, but alas I am not that crazy.  I guess I will just have to settle for being awesome instead.

Don’t get me wrong.  If I had a choice between a Hawaiian Vacation and going to a roller derby bout; it would be an easy choice for me.  I love roller derby that much.  I would cut you if that meant I could ride the bench instead of you.  Because, I… love… roller derby that much!  But, ask me what my record is or god forbid the score… and I would never be able to tell you.

Roller Derby for me is like an amazing night out of drinking.  In the moment, I am there and giving 110%.  Ten minutes after the bout I could not even tell you if I was there, for sure; or if it was just a fantastic dream.  It is like I blacked out from all the fun and only remember drunken blurs of the awesomeness that was.

It is also why, when our amazingly, talented, and inspirational coach gives us the… Don’t Look at the Score Speech, I always have a dumb look on my face!  Why?  What is the score? Are we winning or losing?  She is trying to calm us down… even though I am completely calm… and get us back to playing smart and competitive roller derby… which, okay you got me there… and motivate us to play harder… Way ahead of you sister.  This is roller derby… This is AWESOME… this is not about winning or losing to me, all though it is nice to win.  I get to play.  I get to meet new people. I get to hit people and not get assault charges filed against me.  What more motivation do I need coach?

I will never know the score or feel the anxiety of it like my sister.  I will never really know how much time is left of the clock; only that I am genuinely sad when it is over.  I will never know the crush of defeat or the absolution of victory.  And you know what… crazy competitive people shaking your head as you read this… I am okay with that.  I am happy, I am playing, and I will severely kick your ass if you try to stop me.

Try to remember this the next time you get down on yourself.  Yeah it sucks at the moment; yeah the referees are making some questionable calls, but guess what… there is another bout next week… so don’t look at the score!

 

Brick Walls by Eat Schmidt

I got asked recently to do a little write up on what makes me, me.  I spent a week racking my brain trying to think about what makes me as a skater and a person.  Some words that have been used to describe me have been adventurous, intense, self-motivated, and “The Responsible One” – from Muawhaha.  Some things that people may not know about me are: I play a whole array of different instruments including trombone, guitar, bass, drums, and piano, I sing, have a photography business, work on/drive motorcycles, use to be a competitive swimmer in college, tattooed, and I once got to help lead baby turtles to the ocean (well ok this really has nothing to do with who I am, but it is still kind of cool). 

Ok getting back on track, I grew up being highly involved in music and sports.  I have always had a strong competitive drive to do my best and try to win in everything I do including academics, sports, and music.  I have even had competition to outdo myself when I have no one else around to compete against.  I skated occasionally on inline skates as a kid, but I usually steered clear of any activities that it was likely I would end up with a broken bone.  I was more into weight lifting, throwing shot put, and swimming (there are very few opportunities to break bones swimming).  As I got older though, I started to branch out into other activities like rock climbing, motorcycle driving, slack lining, soccer, dodge ball, snowboarding, and I dabbled in some softball and basketball.  A year and a half ago, I was introduced to the sport of roller derby.  Having never seen or really heard of it before, I sat and watched in confusion and amazement at the sport.  One of the first thoughts that passed through my mind while watching the guys play was; “Now this is a sport for ME!  Lots of hitting, taking out aggression, skill, and it just looks like a lot of fun.”  From then on I was hooked.  As soon as I graduated college and got a full time job close to Sioux City, I started playing roller derby. 
               
Now just as I am sure this was the story for most, if not all newbies, I spent a lot of time flailing around, falling, and awkwardly making my way around the track.  When I first was going to start skating, I thought, “This is going to be easy, I have good balance from yoga and slack lining, I am athletic, and I have always wanted to have the opportunity to hit people without getting in trouble!”  I quickly was humbled and learned that this was not going to be an easy thing to pick up, especially since I had never skated with quad skates in my life.  I also soon found out that just because you hit someone doesn’t mean that they will fall down and it sometimes means that they will keep going and you will fall down. This was just one of the many times I hit a wall and had to learn to overcome it.  I have to credit being involved with a great team and starting with an amazing group of dedicated and inspiring newbies to my success so far in roller derby.  We have spent a lot of time so far fighting through pain and frustration, but also had a lot of fun and tons of stories from the experience.  Just last weekend I got to play in a bout with the dames and I was amazed at how far everyone has come, myself included.  There was a lot less falling, more drive, actual communication, more teamwork, and everyone landed hits that were intentional and clean.
               
From this experience so far, I have gained many new friends, a strong derby family, many skating skills, confidence, had opportunities to help others in the community, and have more motivation then I ever had before.  I learned that I can push myself harder and longer than I ever imagined.  This has translated into my daily life and has made me even more motivated than before.  During this time, I hit many walls that slowed my progress and made me question whether or not I wanted to continue on the path I am on, but instead I always pushed through and have successfully gotten to where I am today.  Now I can hardly contain my excitement on the track and almost start jumping up and down in the middle of a jam when I final use a skill I learned in practice in a jam.  I am going to end this with an inspiring quote I recently ran across and I think it fits perfectly with roller derby and life: “Brick walls are there not to stop us from reaching our goals but to stop those other people that don’t want it as bad as you do.”
 ~Eat Schmidt
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