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.
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.