It’s December already — that special time of year for NHRD when team liaisons are making their invite list and checking it twice, and new recruits are working on their assessments with visions of booty-blocking sugarplums dancing in their heads. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, mostly because it’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the upcoming season while still holding onto a little extra free time.
“I have been doing a ton of baking,” says Skate Free or Die All-Stars blocker, Bash, “…and woodworking/refurbishing projects with Pam (Decker), taking time to plan out our future with a house and wedding and all that jazz. Psyched for next season but really enjoying doing all of the things we don’t have time for during the season!”
Pammy Decker, another All-Star, is taking full advantage of the break from the intense physical demands of last season by “eating lots of pizza and watching cable TV.”
No one could be more deserving. “Having worked vigorously with fresh meat training and league trainings through the holidays for the past 6 seasons, it is nice to finally take a break and remember that there is actually a world outside of derby.”
Britney Romeo, in addition to attending the bi-weekly league practices, has picked up snowboarding and running as a way to be active outside of roller derby.
MVP-winning jammer Emily Deckerson of the Cherry Bombs and Granite Skate Troopers is finding her balance. “Like others, I’m taking some time to give myself a break from skating. Once we hit January, I want to be ready to go full throttle. I don’t really have a choice as I’ll be captaining two teams!” She also cites yoga and biking as her sources of cross training.
Our NSOs, on the other hand, are actively seeking out more derby. Charles Dickins, for one, continues to earn his 2013 Atlas Award.
“I spend my time working on the officiating training program for next season, obsessively checking the NHRD, WFTDA and ZebraHuddle forums, and scrambling to find any bouts still being played this time of year. My pink shirt is so lonely.”
Dickins goes on to explain, “I wrote a novel, but I figured that would be boring.”
Neon Khaos listed spring cleaning, buying new skates and joining the Millyard Misfits, the NHRD rec league, in 2014.
After announcing for SFOD at D-1 playoffs in Richmond, Helen Carnate hasn’t had to search hard for more opportunities. “I’ve been invited to announce a lot of places in 2014, so I’m spending my off-season saving and trying to plot where it will and won’t be feasible for me to go.” But she quickly adds, “Also … playing lots of World of Warcraft. Old habits die hard.”
Meanwhile, to new recruits or “fresh meat,” December means working hard and pushing their bodies to the limit to pass assessments — just ask the Tartlet Dodger.
“We are just getting into hitting! It’s awesome, and last night after our first post-level 1 assessment I couldn’t sleep until about 3 in the morning.”
It’s no break time for trainers, either.
“What’s an off-season?” asks Crueliette Lewis, of SFOD and Granite Skate Troopers. “I’m involved in training the freshies, as well as attending league and SFOD practices and Freak Factory workouts.”
Crue, alongside Nightmares blocker Kim Bong Ill and others, is at the House of Hustle several nights a week turning wobbly, wide-eyed newbies into mighty roller derby athletes. It’s hard work, but we’re grateful awesome people like Crueliette are willing to do it so the rest of us can eat pizza.
NHRD would like to wish a warm Happy Holidays from our family to yours. See you in 2014!
Rookie Year: 2008
ManchVegas Roller Girls 2008-2009
Skate Free or Die All Stars 2009-2013
Queen City Cherry Bombs 2012
Granite State Troopers 2010
Nightmares on Elm Street 2011-2013
How did you first become involved in roller derby?
Well, I moved from Chicago to Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2008 for AmeriCorps. I was 20 years old and they put me up in an apartment above a bar. (Thanks guys.) One night I was heading in and some girls who had been flyering at the bar skated over and asked me if I wanted to play. I had never skated before so I was a little reluctant. I didn’t have any friends in NH and I was missing all of the sports I played back home so I went to watch a practice anyways. It was love at first sight. I think it was about 2 months after putting skates on for the first time when I played in my first bout. I was hooked and worked my ass off to learn. I played with MVRG for a season but really needed something more competitive. So, I transferred to New Hampshire Roller Derby in 2009. I am now heading into my 6th season and each season I get more and more excited to be fortunate enough to play this sport with this group of amazing women.
You’ve been around in the derby world for a hot minute. How have you personally witnessed the game of roller derby and New Hampshire Roller Derby as a league evolves over the years?
It’s so different from when I started. The game has changed so much in the short time since its revival. The style of play, the skating styles, the strategy, the rules (remember scrum starts? And the pivot line?!), the uniforms, the names, the tournaments, the World Cup, even the skates … everything has evolved. The WFTDA continues to gauge the direction of the game from all the member leagues, so it’s great that we all get a say in the way we want to play. The game is now one of finesse and athleticism. It’s amazing and really wonderful to have been able to see roller derby grow into what it is now.
NHRD as a whole has changed completely. When I first started there was only one team, SFOD. Throughout the years we added two home teams, and then a third a year later. We added a second travel team and are still in the first year of our recreational team. We now total six teams and became a full WFTDA league in 2010 and a Class A WFTDA league this past April. We have added committees, team tryouts, fresh meat season and so much more. We have written countless policies, procedures and processes to cushion the growth of people and progression. NHRD seems to be rolling with the times and each season just keeps getting better and better. I really can’t wait to see what we’re going to do in 2014.
You injured yourself back in 2011. Can you explain what happened, your recovery process and what made you strap on skates again?
Oh man that sucked. We were gearing up for the 2011 season. We were scrimmaging the Nuts [The Nutcrackers, one of Boston Derby Dames' home teams] at Shriner’s and there was a pile up in front of me. I tried to jump it but someone tried to stand up and caught my leg. So, I ended up landing directly on my left knee and just instantly couldn’t move. I went to the doctor’s and they couldn’t find anything wrong. I did physical therapy, cortisone shots, so many X-rays, it was so weird. I kept trying to come back and just kept hurting myself even more and ended up being out for the entire year. I just couldn’t stay away as long as I needed to.
There was no question that I was going to come back; derby is just a part of me now. When I came back though, I could barely even skate anymore. That riding a bike analogy is crap. Skating is hard; a bike would have been much easier. I came back right before 2012 tryouts and didn’t make either travel team which really put things into perspective for me. I was hesitating, not being aggressive, boo hoo, poor me. I decided that I was going to work crazy hard to get back to the point where I had been because the only thing stopping me was myself. My teammates were doing really amazing things together and I wanted to be back with them. I got tons of support from everyone and that really helped. Special shout out to Vicious, Killa, Pam, and everyone else who took the time to hit the negative out of me and really remind me that I could do it. I don’t know if I could have gathered up that kind of motivation without you guys.
That season I got to play with the Queen City Cherry Bombs for a few bouts and it was awesome! Them letting me play let me get my confidence back and gave me the opportunity to learn some new skills. That season I learned how to transition, skate backwards, hockey stop, and turning toe stop. I was skating non-stop and earned back a spot on SFOD in June of that year. That hard work really motivated me to continue on that path. I had accomplished so much in a short amount of time that I just have really tried to always push myself that way. I honestly think that getting injured was one of the best parts of my derby career. I learned a lot about myself and my body and started on a path of positivity that has really helped me become the skater I am today.
Skate Free or Die All-Stars coach Johnny Cash Machine explained to me in an interview about SFOD’s D-1 tourney play in Richmond, Va., in September that you were responsible for saving and winning the game for us. It came down to the last two jams against the very tough ladies of Jacksonville Roller Girls, with their New Jax City Rollers ranked above of NHRD coming into the tournament. Can you talk about that?
When I read that I was honestly like “What? What did I do?” While that is such an honor, I really find it impossible to take that kind of credit. That was the biggest game in the history of our league. We wanted that win so bad and we worked so hard for months and months because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. That goofy picture that they posted on DNN after we won was just sheer happiness from our entire team. SFOD’s mantra is “Hustle, Hit, Never Quit … TOGETHER” and we work so hard to embody that. We work as one on the track and that, more than anything, has gotten us where we are today. We earned it.
In all honesty, I was just 1/14 part of that win. More so if you add in the rest of my teammates and coaches. Cash was talking about the two cuts that I pulled on their jammers in the last 5 minutes of the game. Really though, it wasn’t just me at all. If our jammer hadn’t pushed their wall up and gotten lead or if my wall hadn’t held their jammer to set me up for that hit, it just wouldn’t have happened. We all added bits to that bout that led us to that win and we did it together. Roller derby, 100% of the time, is won by teams who work together.
Do you have any personal goals for the upcoming 2014 season (which promises to be an exciting one for NHRD!)?
Oh my god, so many. I hate watching myself skate. I am so overly critical of myself that when I watch bouts I end up asking myself how they let me play. I yell at myself on the screen, it’s the worst. But at the end of the day I have to remind myself that this sport ain’t easy. I try to make a list of as many positive things I did right as well as things I have to work on. My goals for my team in 2014 would be: tight walls, hustle, and communication. I would also like us to earn a bid back to D-1 and come out a higher rank than we did in 2013. Goals for myself; backwards skating, offense, off-skates, mental toughness, positivity, plus 1,000 more things I can think of working on. Derby is always evolving so as a skater you have to always be evolving too. Always trying to grow and improve!
Is there anyone on NHRD or in derby internationally you admire and consider an inspiration?
Oh wow, that’s truly a difficult question. There are so many amazing people that I have met over the years from all over the world that just makes me consider anyone involved in the sport an inspiration. One thing that I’ve learned is each person who plays this game has a different story and a different reason for being involved in this community. You have people who have never played a sport, people who’ve played every sport, you have all sorts of athletes, artistic skaters, teams who rise up, teams who hold their ranks, hockey players, injuries, all the volunteers … but somehow we all find the same strength in the game, in each other, and in ourselves to push on and become the best that we can be. It’s crazy inspiring when you really think about all the skaters out there busting their asses doing what they love.
I definitely get inspired each time we bout. We learn things from each and every team that we play. My home team, The Nightmares on Elm Street has always historically been a small team; we won bouts this season playing with 8 girls. That team is crazy together and the attitude of NES inspires me big time. I’ve been so lucky to have played 3 amazing seasons with them. On top of all that, every group of fresh meat that I’ve trained, every new teammate that I’ve had, every playoff, every championship that I’ve seen, it’s all just pure motivation.
So you and Pammy Decker – another impressive SFOD skater – are engaged, yay! This isn’t the first time derby has brought people together (our ref 2 Pack Shocker and Cherry Bomb Pixie Bruiser were engaged at the end of our July bout this year!). Can you spill the beans on this new development?
Ahh, yes! She put a ring on it!! I proposed to Pam in October and then she recently proposed back in November. We’re super happy! Pam and I met through mutual friends in the derby world a while back when she was skating for Boston and I was skating for New Hampshire. She really is amazing. That girl is one of the only people who can get me to focus, be super supportive, and kick my ass into gear all at the same time. It’s SO cheesy but…she really does make me better.
As far as derby, we also happen to be on the same line so we literally skate together all the time. We work really well together; I mean, our whole line just has ESP with each other, but she sets ‘em up and I knock ‘em down. Our only “downfall” is that we’re both very strategy minded. Literally the only thing in life that we “argue” (as Bam would say) is strategy on the track. I think it’s healthy to talk about that stuff though maybe not always mid-jam. I also think being teammates on the track has really helped our relationship off the track. We are so lucky that we don’t get sick of each other; I mean I want to spend all my free time with her and now we can travel together effortlessly sharing one suitcase.
In all seriousness though, I am really fortunate that I get to share the thing that I love the most with the person that I love the most. Who knows how long we’ll play together but some of our best memories together have been shared with our team. I love that.
-Interview by Medusa’s Might
Bash is in charge of Skate Free or Die’s fundraising, and you can support the team two ways this December: Join SFOD for their Second Annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, December 7 in Manchester (details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/418476934920826/) or purchase a limited edition SFOD t-shirt (https://www.booster.com/sfod2014travelfund?share=861384717604619%3Fshare%3D861384717604619). SFOD has been invited to play teams all over the world (literally: Germany!), and you can help support them as they prepare to dominate in 2014!
MANCHESTER – Would you be brave enough to sport a bald head in an effort to help find a cure for and stand in solidarity with childhood cancer patients?
More than half a dozen of New Hampshire Roller Derby’s skaters and a handful of fans are doing just that on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the league’s home season closer at the JFK Memorial Coliseum in Manchester. Head shavings will take place during half time at the double header bout and all proceeds will be donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
It started at the beginning of the 2013 season when Queen City Cherry Bombs Chuck NU Around and Su McKenzie decided to join in with some of the ladies of Roc City Roller Derby in Rochester, N.Y. Before they traveled to play their opponents, Chuck and McKenzie helped raise funds for the nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer through research. After that, NHRD as a whole decided St. Baldrick’s would be the charity for the August bout.
Joining Chuck and McKenzie in shedding their locks for this worthy cause are Mimi, Irate Pirate, Bash and JC Superscar. Going for the two-for-one shave, Mimi and Irate will also donate their long hair to Locks of Love.
“I have to admit, I’ve always ‘wanted’ to shave my head, but never had the guts. When I heard about my first St. Baldrick’s event, it was put-up-or-shut-up time,” McKenzie said. “Now it’s about raising awareness. I never get tired of answering the question ‘Why’d you shave off all that beautiful hair?’
“And if someone is leery or hesitant to ask, I still have my ‘Ask me why I’m bald” button,’” she added.
For Irate, she decided to donate her hair and raise money for St. Baldrick’s for more personal reasons. She recently hit the $1,000 mark and is striving to donate more. She said in 2006, she lost her close friend, Krista, to an aggressive form of cancer at the young age of 25.
“She was barely out of college and had so much to offer. I miss our hang out times in the grass at Greeley Park,” Irate said about the local Nashua hang out. “I miss just watching movies and being chicks together.”
Irate also has a little cousin, Ella, who has beaten cancer. She said Ella has been successful in her treatments thus far and “has a great life ahead of her.” In addition to Irate, the entire league lost member Half Pint O’Rage to leukemia and raised money for research for the disease last season.
“Rage was a pretty righteous gal with a huge spirit. And lots of folks miss her. She was way too young,” Irate said. She believes the simple act of shaving her head and raising money for St. Baldrick’s is one tiny way she is helping out in the grand scheme of life.
“This is something I can stand up and show the world. A way to look at these kids who are fighting for their lives and say, ‘Hey! HEY! Keep fighting! I’m gonna help somehow… so, keep fighting. I’m standing with you!’” Irate said. “It’s a way to look at the parents and say ‘You’re not alone. .. stand tall!’”
Bash said people have asked her if she was nervous about shaving her head, but she’s felt the exact opposite of that – excitement.
“At the end of the day it’s just hair and mine will grow back. With everything that these kids have to go through, if shaving my head makes one of them feel better even for a second or at least make them smile, it’s worth it,” she said. “I would shave my head every day to bring awareness to childhood cancer.”
Bash has been a longtime member of NHRD, but the opportunity to shave her head to stand in solidarity with children battling the disease is the best one yet, she said. Her roller derby league continues to amaze her with its dedication to giving back to the community and supporting worthy causes.
“I feel so proud to be a part of a league that does so much outside of playing the sport we love. The fact that we’re are able to donate money to this amazing organization on top of bring awareness to this amazing cause makes this whole thing a thousand times more worth it. It is incredible that we’re going to be able to donate so much and stands as a true testament to the support of our friends, family, and fans,” Bash said.
“We can’t thank you enough for your support. The best part of this experience is that I get to share it with six of my teammates. I’m really excited that we get such a rare opportunity to raise awareness for this great cause. I can’t wait to rub all of my teammates heads and celebrate because we’ll have made a difference together.”
NHRD has set a league goal of raising $5,000 for St. Baldrick’s. While the goal has been surpassed in recent days, every dollar helps. Help the roller derby league fund a cure for childhood cancer by donating online at www.stbaldricks.org/events/nhrollerderby. Or donate in person by attending the Aug. 24 bout.
Doors open at 4 p.m., whistle is at 5 p.m. Tickets at the door are $12 the day of the bout, children 10 and younger are free. The JFK Coliseum is located at 303 Beech St., in Manchester, next to Gill Stadium.
NHRD is always looking to add members to its growing family. For more information on becoming a skater, ref or nonskating official (NSO) or joining the new rec team, visit www.nhrollerderby.com or email email@example.com.
Position: Pivot, Blocker
Rookie Year: 2007
Skate Free or Die All-Stars – 2008-2013
Nightmares on Elm Street – 2011
Seabrook Meltdowns – 2010
You’ve been with NHRD since 2007! I was actually a little afraid and in awe of you when I first came on board in 2008 when there were only 12 girls on the league. We really have come a long way baby! What was it like in those early days – especially that first year you were with the league?
I don’t even know where to begin. It’s a really long story. I don’t ever regret it. Ever. But I probably won’t try to help start another league up from scratch again. LOL. That’s a lot of work, and I’ve been through it once before. I’m really proud to have helped the league from the very beginning to the present time.
Dee Stortion and Raggedy Antics found me. “HEY! You have a skull on your shirt. Wanna join us and play roller derby?” This was in the bathroom of Penuche’s in Nashua. Antics proceeded to climb the stall wall and kick Dee in the head. “WE’RE PRACTICING!”
I said YES, of course. I didn’t know how to skate. I didn’t really give a hoot. I wanted to do this. These chicks were cool, and I could see myself getting along with them. I like brazen, strong, crazy women. Ask my Mom. I went to my first open skate at Skate 3 in Tyngsboro, where I met total strangers. I was REALLY scared. It’s hard to make friends in New England. People keep to themselves mostly. But since moving to New England in 2004, I needed to break out of my shy shell. So I went out and tried really hard to skate with all these kids and other girls learning how to skate. IT WAS SO HARD. I fell numerous times. I fell so many times, my knees were numb due to the amount of blood build up. I met Sheila, a.k.a. Lipstick Dynamite, Dementia A Go-Go, Lisa Creer, Hollywood Harlot, Empress Explosiva, Putunya Grave, Kelli Krusher, Bettie Off Dead, Ruby Hooligan, Skah Face, some other girls that I can’t remember. There were a lot of people that passed through. I wish I could remember all the names. I think they would appreciate that memory of them.
I became real close with everyone. I was so happy to have a large group of friends. I hadn’t made too many friends since moving to New England from Baltimore. I had a few solids, but then I had like, 20 ladies all the time to hang with.
What did it take to get the league from where it was THEN to where it is NOW?
Your question as to how things have progressed the way they did, has one answer: the skaters. Very talented and smart individuals are the power for the league. When people feel involved in the growth of any attribute to the well-being of the league, you end up getting really great results. It’s more than just a job, it’s potential to be something great. I’ve worked at many companies where employee involvement was treasured. And it wasn’t money that drove these employees to help, it was the reward of setting goals, and achieving them. Everyone in this league is driven and determined to maintain and excel the success rate of the league. The dream to one day be a broadcast sport and play huge arenas is actually achievable. There are people out there that won’t stop until that dream comes true. I hope one day to be able to turn on my TV and watch roller derby with friends and family, much like I do when I watch football or hockey.
You’ve been on Skate Free or Die All-Stars since its inception (2008 – present). How has the team evolved?
Right now, Skate Free or Die has never been this good, and we’re only getting better each and every day. We’re headed to a WFTDA Division I Tournament in Richmond, VA, in September! Amazing! When we started out, it was like a bunch of friends travelling and trying to figure things out together. Bonding, travelling, and having good times together. It’s definitely not what we initially conceived when first starting up the league. In 2007, we thought about how we wanted to dress up or what kind of fun half time shows we could put on. It was more of a show to entertain people. Like a burlesque show or fire breathers for a half time show. That’s really what we thought. You dress up funny and have funny names. This isn’t the current mindset in derby, and I couldn’t be happier. But it was a progression to get to this point. There’s going to be lots more growing pains until we vanquish stereotype of the 70s. I think athletically, these past two years, have been the best I’ve ever seen, within this league. Special Thanks to Carroll Huss, Emma Donnelly (Irish Twin!) and Johnny Cash Machine. Thanks for helping me know what it means to be on a team.
I know you’ve done a lot of work to get this league where it is today. Talk about some of your accomplishments. For example, you did a lot of liaison work between the various teams and leagues and worked hard to get bouts set up with other teams. I was on that first van trip to Montreal! That was some ride. And you with only your skate clothes! That was quite the ride home!
HA! Ooooh boy. That Montreal Trip was something special alright. I never crowd surfed before. Strike that off the bucket list!
Here is a list of all the jobs I had on the league: Sponsorship, Interleague Liaison, President at one time, League Coordinator, Head of Training, Bout Production, Fundraising, Special Committee to make our first home teams, probably other things. So, it’s really hard to pin point accomplishments when I’ve been all over the place. In general, I’m just really proud to have done something extraordinary like this, in what could have been a hum-drum life of pouring myself into a fruitless career.
What’s next for Tank’d Girl?
Heading back into school starting in September. I’m really excited to start a new career in paralegal. It’s so fascinating how the law works and how it affects people. Once I get certified, I’ll more than likely continue my education for my job field. My career was always important to me, but I’ve found lately that the industry I was working in and the career path I had acquired was really a dead end, due to the economic hardships. However, this is just another opportunity.
Best memory of your time with NHRD?
Man, there are just TOO MANY. I can’t even elaborate on all the shenanigans we got into. From the first Fundraiser, where it was so packed there were no tables or chairs anywhere and everyone danced on the bar at the end of the night, then I tackled that dude Rob Bruce. To getting spray painted like a zombie and handed out flyers at a haunted house. Then all those times we went to Maine and their after parties had a light up dance floor. Montreal’s after party, where I crowd surfed in a café and we made Beeramids! That other time in Delaware, where I saw a lot of Chicana in a Hot Tub and Roxie and Brazen were hitting on the Cop. All the pictures that Vicious took of me at all our after parties. That time we went to Maine and I high fived a lot of cops, whilst drunk. That one time where we went to the wrong after party bar, and we ended up finding a male review!
Personally, I poured myself into Derby. I traveled to all the games. I had almost every game in my calendar around New England. I drove from Albany, to Maine, to Rhode Island, to Western Mass, to Wilmington, to Vermont. I met many people along the way. My group of 20 close friends, then stretched to 50 close friends. With people all over New England, I was able to volunteer for games and/or stay over and party. I mean, this was one huge party for me. A huge network of information too. I always had the latest info on who went where and what happened to this league.
Cheers to the Sin & Tonics, Merry Pains, Reckless Wreckells, Baby Fighterfly, Itsy Bitsy Fighter, The Rev, Norah Morse, Mibs Breakn Ribs, Marzah Pain, Bonnie D. Stroir, Bully Jully, Ivannah Clobbher, Holly Nass, Harley Quinn, Joy Collision, Rev Al Mighty, Jacked Rabbit, Punchy O Guts, Olive Spankins, Holly GoHardly, Philzie, Jeff Da Ref, Demanda Riot, Chicka Dee Struction, Crazy Dukes, Miss L Ballistic, Hellen Bed, Shelby Bruisn, Boxcar Bethany, Georgia W. Tush, Hayley Contagious, Terror Byte, Dreanought, Xena Paradox and soooo many others that I met through my travels. You all do have a special place with me!
A HUGE shout-out to Eastern Border in Nashua. They helped us get our gear, and told us to get our butts skating. NHRD had a bake sale at Eastern Boarder. They’re seriously the coolest guys ever. (I WILL MARRY YOU BRIAN, WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT.)
The last leg of my farewell tour will end in Richmond, Virginia, for the Division One Tournament being held September 13 – 15. And consequently it will be my Aunt, Brother and Dad’s first and last time seeing me play roller derby. My parents just so happen to be visiting the US that month. They currently live in Ireland. I’m overjoyed to know that they’ll be there for this!!
Big Love and Slainte to you all!
Right back at you Tank! We couldn’t have done it without you!
MANCHESTER – The women of New Hampshire Roller Derby’s top travel team have made cosmic-like leaps and bounds in the sport’s rankings, landing themselves a spot to skate in a Division I tournament in September.
NHRD’s Skate Free or Die All-Stars were invited to play in one of the four Women Flat Track Derby Association’s playoff tournaments in Richmond, Va., this fall to compete against some of the toughest teams in this top competitive division. With WFTDA’s fourth-quarter rankings now released, the All-Stars are ranked No. 37 in the entire world. In July 2012, SFOD stood at No. 84. In just a year’s time, the All-Stars made a 47-spot jump, landing themselves in the top 40 teams in the world.
“They go from not even being in contention for a Division II play-off spot to being invited as a 9 seed to the Division I playoffs and will be going to Richmond, Va., from Sept 13-15 to play in their first-ever tournament,” former co-coach Carol Huss said. “I couldn’t be more proud to have coached this wonderful group of ladies who prove that teamwork trumps all else.”
Saying the ladies of SFOD have been working hard since the close of the 2012 season last October is an understatement. According to coach Johnny Cash Machine, the team voted to take only two weeks off. Their plan was to continue training during the winter with the goal of making it to a Division II tournament to win those championships this season. Little did they know that all of their hard work would pay off in bigger ways than they could have imagined. ”That kind of commitment produces results,” Cash said. The team practices and scrimmages at least twice weekly, hits the gym six days a week and recently began conditioning training with local fitness training sponsor, Freak Factory – New England, where they focus on team-building, strength and speed.
Just before the fourth quarter rankings were released, SFOD played the Carolina Roller Girls, who was one of their toughest competitors to date. Carolina has consistently ranked in the top 10 in the former Eastern Division for the last six years. Cash felt his team could secure the much-needed win against their behemoth of an opponent to boost New Hampshire’s rankings.
The Skate Free or Die All-Stars did come out on top, outskating Carolina 236-112 in June. ”Not only did we win that bout, we played our best bout of the season,” Cash said. “Katrina Swirko was a quiet storm on the track that night and Game Ovaries showed why she is rapidly becoming one of the best jammers on the East Coast. Emma Donnelly rained thunder and lightning down upon the opposing jammers with her blocking – in the eight years I’ve known her I’ve never seen a better performance.” Donnelly, who is co-captain of SFOD and retiring at the end of this season, received the much-deserved Most Valuable Blocker award for her defense during the Carolina game.
After the major victory, everyone in NHRD was hopeful, knowing such a big win over a previously higher ranked league could only mean good things NHRD’s WFTDA rankings. But Cash had an inkling of just how good things would be for the All-Stars. ”I walked away from that bout knowing that we’d done it. In my bones I knew that we’d not only met our goal for Division II, but we’d flown far past it to the distant dream of making Division I playoffs,” he said. “This season has been a dream season for me as a coach, and frankly, I don’t want to wake up from it. Richmond awaits us, and it’s there that we’ll answer the following question for ourselves and the rest of the derby world … ‘Who the expletive is New Hampshire?’”
When Cash came to NHRD after being invited by blocker and SFOD leader Pammy Decker shortly after the 2012 season began, he met a team that possessed the drive to do great things. ”I came in and saw a team with talented individual skaters. Not only were they talented, but they had a hunger that had come from tasting success near the middle of 2012. ECDX was a turning point where SFOD realized that they could hang with these other leagues,” Cash said, which is where the saying “Who the expletive is New Hampshire?” came from. Before the East Coast Derby Extravaganza last year, virtually no one in WFTDA had heard of New Hampshire Roller Derby, let alone the league’s now rapidly rising Skate Free or Die All-Stars.
“The thing that they lacked, and the thing that we’ve reminded ourselves about over and over is the idea of playing as a team,” Cash continued. “Everything we do in practice is centered on this idea, and it even finds its way into our chant at the beginning of each game - ’Hustle, Hit, Never Quit. TOGETHER.’ That ‘together’ is a reminder to play with your teammates.”
Since the end of 2012, SFOD has continued to skate together exemplifying what it truly means to play as a team. They just took the win over Gotham Girls Roller Derby‘s Grand Central Terminators, 154-143, on July 20 at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester. With the playoffs fast approaching, SFOD has kicked up their training a notch to show the derby world who the expletive New Hampshire is. As NHRD is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving back to the community – with skaters, refs and officials all volunteering their time to enjoy the sport they love – they’re busy raising funds for the tournament in Virginia.
First on tap is an Aug. 8 fundraiser at Uno’s Pizza at 304 Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua. For every dine in and take out order where SFOD is mentioned on Thursday, Aug. 8, Uno’s will donate 20 percent of the check to the team. The event is scheduled for all day Aug. 8 and a dough raiser ticket needs to be presented to the server, bartender or host for SFOD to get credit for the meal sales. Tickets are available online at www.facebook.com/events/
SFOD also has two free car washes slated, with donations accepted and going toward the team’s travel fund for Richmond. The first is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11 at Burger King on Daniel Webster Highway in Manchester. The second is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 at the Mobile station, located at 1050 S. Willow St., Manchester.
The Skate Free or Die All-Stars will host their first ever tournament pep rally at Penuche’s Ale House in Nashua. Festivities kick off at 8 p.m. and will continue until close at the local watering hole at 4 Canal St. For every Pabst Blue Ribbon sold, SFOD will receive 50 cents for its travel fund. There will be raffles, a dance party and tons of fun.
Formerly Known As: Harlot Fevah
Rookie Year: 2006
Skate Free or Die All-Stars – 2012-13
Boston Derby Dames, Boston Massacre – 2007-11
Boston Derby Dames, Wicked Pissahs – 2006-08
Awards and Recognition:
MVB: SFOD vs. Carolina 2013; MVP: SFOD vs. Montreal 2012; MVP: Massacre vs. Philly Roller Girls 2010; MVP: Massacre vs. Atlanta 2007; Two-time Wicked Pissah Crowd Favorite; 2007 and 2008 Golden Fez Champion: Wicked Pissah
You’ve been involved in derby since 2006 – first with the Boston Derby Dames (the Wicked Pissahs and Boston Massacre) and now with NHRD. How did you find derby and what has kept you in it for so long?
I started with my (then) roommates/friends from high school, Amandaconda and Jennasaurus Wrecks. We watched that show “Rollergirls” on A&E and thought: We can totally do that. We were signed up for practice the next week, even though I had never been on roller skates a day in my life. I don’t think I can tell you just one reason why I’ve kept with it – I think a main reason is the friendships I’ve made, and how those people push me to be a better athlete. Even after countless injuries, including some serious back problems, I still come back for more. I really had no idea what I was getting into back in 2006, but I can definitely tell you that derby has changed my life and who I am for the better.
You’re a Co-Captain of the Skate Free or Die All-Stars; The chance of SFOD getting into a Divisional tournament this year is very likely – tell me about the work you guys have put in.
Our team is unreal. Seriously. In 2012 alone, we jumped from #26 in the East to #12. Or, in Flat Track Stats land, we started 2012 at #115 and are currently sitting at #43. THAT’S A LOT OF HARD WORK! We bust our butts every week to become physically and mentally stronger, and we do it together. This will be the first Regional/Divisional tournament that NHRD has ever competed in – and although going to a tournament like this isn’t new to me, I am BEYOND pumped to share this experience with a new team and appreciate it with a fresh outlook. HUSTLE, HIT, NEVER QUIT! TOGETHER!
You have won several awards while with NHRD, including NHRD’s Most Feared Skater and just recently, Most Valuable Blocker against the Carolina Rollergirls; What do you think is your biggest contribution to your team and league as a skater?
Oddly enough? I think it’s my sense of humor. I am by no means the greatest skater (although getting that MVB was wicked awesome), and I never take myself too seriously. I think it’s really important in a high-contact/high-tension sport to be able to take a step back and find a way to laugh. I am constantly doing stupid things and making jokes, on and off the track. Part of why I love being captain is so I can plan things like our SFOD Funlympics (basically a giant Minute to Win It competition). I love being able to make people laugh. And also my quasi-Boston accent.
Any other sports (past or present) that have benefited you in derby?
Not at all. I played soccer when I was 9 for about a hot minute, but I was only really in it for the orange slices. Believe it or not, I was (and still am) a complete music/band nerd. I was band president in high school. Before I got into derby, I played with several orchestras in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I most recently subbed in with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra for a pops concert. Weird, right? My thought process is: I only have so many years to skate before my body gives out. Then I’ll probably be bound to a chair anyways so there’s plenty of time for music when I retire from skating.
Between practices, bouts, traveling – derby is very time consuming. Your Dad is always at the games – and is quite the chef! How important is having your family there, supporting you?
Oh, it’s the best feeling to have your family there. I’ll start by saying my aunts and my sister are hands down, some of the best derby fans. They come to the games, they yell and scream and support me 100 percent – it’s been a LONG time and they still come to show me their support. I couldn’t ask for a better family fan-base. And as for my Dad … OK, so as most of you may know, I am not a woman of many feels. But, I do have ALL the feels when it comes to my Dad’s support of me and my derby career. I think in the past seven years, he’s missed maybe five games (we’re talking home games, away games and tournaments). I think I take for granted how lucky I am to have a Dad like Poppa Feevs who not only comes and cheers for me and my league, but who tailgates and feeds EVERYONE on his own dollar. One of my favorite memories was when I was skating with Boston, we had placed third at Regionals (thereby moving on to Nationals) but unfortunately, my Dad couldn’t make that trip. When we got back to Boston, exhausted from the weekend, he was waiting in the parking lot of Shriners with a sign saying “Nationals!” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blaring from his truck. Everyone lost
their minds. I am truly grateful to have him there to cheer me on when I have a great game, pick me up when I have a no-so-great game and just love me for me: a crazy, tattooed, potty-mouthed Donnelly (apple doesn’t fall too fah, does it?) Thank you, Dad. I love you!
OH EMMA! That totally got me all teary!!!!
Speaking of family, I can’t interview you without mentioning GENE PARMESAN, your most divine cat who I am convinced is really a person in a cat suit. Your love for Gene is no secret. How did the fur-ball turn the fierce Don-Don to mush?
Holy Moses. What can I say about the infamous Gene Parmesan? I rescued him and his lady, The Sheriff, about two years ago and I couldn’t be happier (back when they were named Casper and Spunky, oof). I firmly believe that you meet people/animals at just the right times in your life, and he is living proof of that; we were meant to find each other. I
was mourning the loss of my previous cat, Chainsaw, and I went into the shelter just to mope around and as soon as I saw him, I knew I had to bring him home. He makes me laugh EVERY DAY. I mean, he’s a giant white Persian cat named Gene Parmesan. COME ON! He doesn’t care that I come home stinky, or with cuts/bruises – he loves me unconditionally. I swear, when he makes eye contact with you he can see straight into your soul. And he approves. Yes, I am that crazy cat lady your friends have warned you about. I REGRET NOTHING.
EMMA! You got me all teary again! This interview is killing me!
Here’s to you my lady! A “broad” with a heart of gold, an amazing family, and a cat that has few equals. We love everything you bring!!! And one more thing…
HAPPY JULY BIRTHDAY! You deserve ALL KINDS of wonderful! (And she’s single too! Just sayin’!)
MANCHESTER – The June 8 match-up between New Hampshire Roller Derby’s (NHRD) Seabrook Meltdowns and reigning undefeated champions Nightmares on Elm Street was a much anticipated rematch of last season’s home team championship bout. The Nightmares were able to remain undefeated in the 2013 season, coming out with 269-112 win.
The Nightmares have had some unfortunate losses to their roster this season, mainly due to injuries. Primary jammers for the evening for were Su McKenzie (MVP Jammer), JC Superscar, Punky and Lau N Disorder.
Relief jammers consisted of Bash, Katrina Swirko, Chicana Bruzya and Liv N. Fear (MVP Blocker).
The Meltdowns jammer rotation consisted of Prissassin, Techno Destructo, Anja-in-a Heartbeat (MVP Jammer), Rage of Aquarius, Cee N. Spots and Game Ovaries.
A strong lineup of blockers from the Nightmares controlled the Meltdowns jammers so that they could continue to rack up points after picking up lead jammer calls consistently. Penalties and power jams seemed to be problematic for the Meltdowns throughout the first half.
Meltdowns did a nice job of playing offense throughout this bout, springing their own jammer from the pack shortly after the Nightmares’ jammers received lead, forcing them to call it off.
Exceptional blocking in the pack for the Meltdowns was courtesy of Plasmatic Kitty (MVP Blocker), Mimi, Jager-Raider, Hester Paine, Medusa’s Might and Bette Thistlehurt.
The Nightmares utilized their small roster to its fullest potential with its double threat roster of skaters, primary blockers included Bash, Lau N Disorder, Liv N. Fear, Kim Bong Ill, Chicana Bruzya and Captain Bobbi Gore.
The Nightmares took the early lead by holding back the Meltdowns jammers with their tight walls. The Meltdowns gave them a scare in the fifth jam, however, when Prissassin forced a track cut on jammer Punky. But Nightmares defense was able to hold Techno Destructo to only two passes before she called it off.
Penalties then became a bigger problem for the Meltdowns as jammers were being sent to the box giving the Nightmares ample opportunity to garner an impressive lead.
The second half showed the Meltdowns coming back with a vengeance as they sent in dual rostered Skate Free or Die All-Star jammer and Meltdowns Captain Game Ovaries to gain some momentum. But stealthy moves from Nightmares jammers and recurring lead jammer status ensured another victory for the Nightmares, 269-112.
The Nightmares remain undefeated and will be heading to the Home Team Kennedy Cup Championship bout on August 24 at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester.
The Meltdowns will face-off against the Granite Skate Troopers on July 20 in the home team play-offs for a chance to play for the Kennedy Cup against the Nightmares on August 24.
Write Up Courtesy of Slick Tracy
Massenkill La Douche
Rookie Year: 2010
Queen City Cherry Bombs – 2013
Granite Skate Troopers – 2013
Granite State Roller Derby – 2010-2012
ManchVegas Roller Girls – 2010
You’re a quiet sort of lady off the track. Where in the world did DOUCHE come from?
I laugh when I get asked this because it is quite honestly the last name I would have come to on my own. A-Block from Maine Roller Derby shared the name Massenkill with me during a training she and Olive Spankins were running for our team back in the day. Remembering the commercials for Massengill from my childhood I found the name humorous. She offered the name to me as I was one of the few brave enough to actually use it, and there you have it: Douche.
I hear you are a derby girl with a heart of gold working in a “social services” type field. Want to talk about that?
I never imagined I would end up working with children when I entered college. During my junior year, my family moved away leaving me homeless during summer break. I reluctantly took a job at a summer camp as it offered both employment and housing. Having faced hard knocks growing up, I found myself going out of my way to comfort children who were homesick or in emotional distress. It was a pivotal experience that set my life on a different path. I began taking psychology classes and have worked with youth in the mental health system since graduating. It is an incredibly rewarding field, aiding children in the development of skills and confidence needed to thrive and be successful, contributing members of their community.
For those who may not know, you’re an artist as well, recently painting an awesome mural at URBAN MAYHEM (owned and operated by Miss Chiff and Mr. Mayhem at 1356 Elm Street in Downtown Manchester). Is art a hobby or something more?
My grandmother was an artist, and someone I greatly admired growing up. She always had colored pencils and sketchbooks around the house and influenced me creatively. I became quite the art nerd in high school and naturally attended college for art. After college, I used art with the children I work with as it has great therapeutic value. My employer offered me an opportunity to paint murals in each of the three waiting rooms of the children’s program to liven the environment. It took nearly a year to complete all three and was a huge accomplishment. From there, I built a portfolio and began business ventures as a muralist on the side.
You’ve been involved in a few different leagues and teams. (We both started out at ManchVegas – though a few years apart.) What brought you to derby and what keeps you involved? Were you always athletic?
I’m a fairly athletic person and played a variety of sports throughout my life: softball, basketball, rugby, football, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, soccer, hockey (roller & ice) and lacrosse. I enjoy team sports and especially love the physicality of them. Slick Tracy, a former soccer teammate (and current member of NHRD) had a Facebook profile picture with skates/gear on. I remember watching roller derby on TV and was fascinated by it as a child. I had no idea it existed in NH. I got in touch with her to ask about it and she offered for me to attend a practice that night. I’ve been involved from that day forward. Derby is challenging both mentally and physically. It can be puzzling at times, and frustrating at others. The challenge of improving skills and making sense of the game which is ever-evolving is what keeps me in it. That, and the sound of skaters hitting concrete.
What was the hardest skill for you to master? What do you think you still need to work on?
Toe stops were the bane of my existence. Coming from a hockey background, these little rubber foreign objects were frustrating as all hell. Running on them? Stopping with them? Riiiiight. I got the hang of them eventually but it took some time! I have a running list of skills I need to work on at all times. Just when I cross a few off, the game evolves and new skills come about. At this time, I’m working on improving my reaction time between playing offense and defense. You have seconds to switch from one to the other, and then back again. It takes great concentration and with so much going on in a jam, its easy to become distracted.
You’re primarily a blocker. How do you feel about jamming?
I have a love/hate relationship with jamming! I am intrigued by it, as it presents puzzles along the way. You have to identify the weaknesses of opposing players and exploit them. It is a daunting task to have so many skaters after you. This happens to be the same reason I enjoy it. The endurance piece I have yet to figure out, and I have the utmost respect for those who are primarily jammers. I’ve only jammed in one public bout which was earlier this month against the Seabrook Meltdowns. The experience was terrifying but being voted Most Valuable Jammer made it all worthwhile.
Where do you see yourself in a few years from now? Any other sports you’d like to conquer?
I think I’ve played most of the sports NH has to offer. Pending the wear and tear on my body, I hope to be playing derby in several years (even if only on a home team). If all else fails, I’m sure I can find someone to participate in competitive rocking chair races or BINGO at the local VFW.
Any advice for newbies – especially now that NHRD has a rec league?
The hardest part is showing up on your first night and having patience. Whether you’ve skated in your life or not, it takes time to get to where you want to be. I played sports all my life including roller hockey and ice hockey, yet it still took nearly 6 months to a year before being safe enough to bout. Derby is a natural progression with no specific time frame. Skate at your own pace but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. That is why we wear pads.
Douche was actually surprised that she was being featured. She’s a truly humble person who doesn’t know how awesome she is….in so many ways! We <3 you Douche!
Position: Jammer, Blocker
Rookie Year: 2012
Queen City Cherry Bombs – 2013
Nightmares on Elm Street – 2012-2013
How did this career GIRL SCOUT find roller derby?
You found my secret identity! I first found out about roller derby from that reality TV show about the Texas Roller Girls. I saw that and I was inspired by the idea of an all-female sport, where you get to hit people, and have cool tattoos and piercings. When I was in college working at a skate shop, a derby girl came in and said I should try out, but at that time I wasn’t old enough. So I filled the gap of wanting to play a rough sport with rugby. When I moved back to New Hampshire, I decided I needed to find a community to be a part of. I like the fact that I can be the atypical Girl Scout, I have tattoos piercings, and I do weird things to my hair. The jump from Girl Scouts to derby made sense. At (Girl Scout) camp we have weird nicknames and wear knee high socks. It’s funny, I have quite a few friends from my Girl Scout world who have now started playing derby.
Last year you were on the Nightmares on Elm Street – a home team. Now you’re on a travel team, the Queen City Cherry Bombs AND the Nightmares. Give me some idea what it’s like to juggle two teams (practices, strategies, etc.)
It’s a lot to juggle, but I love playing for both teams. The Nightmares are such a driven team and I couldn’t wait to take that drive on the road. With the Cherry Bombs, I have the opportunity to skate against new people, some with strategies I haven’t seen. It keeps me on my toes and gives me new goals to work on. At first I was worried: What if the people on my travel team and not my home team learn how I skate and my moves? I didn’t know if they would be able to play against me better on the home teams. But again, it pushes me to learn more and skate better.
Do you find there’s a different “mindset” between a Home and a Travel Team?
Home team, it’s very much what strategy do we do to compete with the same people we see every week. On a travel team, it’s so many what ifs and how do they play. We go into each game with some sort of an idea, but it keeps you guessing. When it comes to a home team, you learn how your league mates skate, but even then it’s ever changing.
What is your strongest skill that you bring to derby?
I’m not afraid to take a hit. Lots of people see me as being small, and therefore going to get hurt. I have always been into rough sports and derby has been the perfect sport for me.
Where do you want to be next year? A couple years? What do you want to achieve derby-wise? Life-wise?
Loaded question! I plan on still playing derby; I have many years left in me. That’s the awesome thing about getting into derby at a young age, more years to play. I hope one day to make it to Regionals, or however we are doing it now. Life-wise, I plan on staying in the outdoor industry. I love to play outdoors when I’m not playing derby, so any job that lets me do that is where I want to be.
What your “greatest derby moment”?
Honestly just playing derby. I wasn’t sure how it would all work out, it’s not a cheap sport and it’s a huge time commitment. The day that I bought my skates before I was officially teamed, I thought to myself, OK there is no backing down now I have to make it.
I hear you have a favorite charity…St. Baldrick’s. Tell us about it.
Worldwide, 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. And in the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease — more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined. While some organizations spread their research dollar between adult and children’s cancers, every grant funded by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is for childhood cancer research. St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events began as a challenge between businessmen and have grown from one event in 2000 to more than 1,300 events in 2012.
I was super excited when I heard ROC City Roller Derby was doing St. Baldrick’s, and all I could think about is NHRD should do it! Now it’s a reality! I have participated in St Baldrick’s twice (so far!) once in 2009 and again in 2010. The first year I raised $1,357, I hope to at least raise $1,000 this year. It’s an amazing charity to do, and it’s so different from other charities. The best part about it is having people ask “why are you bald?” It brings so much awareness to children’s cancer, and creates the perfect segue as to how they can help. So many people from our league have already signed up to join the battle against children’s cancer. I can’t wait to see all the bald derby girls. Bald is Beautiful!
You are an awesome player – and an even better person. Must be all that Girl Scout training. NHRD <3s you!
For more information on St. Baldrick’s, visit http://www.stbaldricks.org/.
A lot of people don’t know all that goes on behind the scenes. There’s a great deal of organization, planning, preparing, practicing, score keeping, penalty tracking, jam timing, etc. Without the Refs and the Non Skating Officials (NSOs) it would just be some girls going around and around a track. I sat down with NHRD’s Head NSO Jitter Rox to talk derby.
What do you “get” out of participating in NHRD?
As someone who relocated to New England for a job, I got a family! I get to spend my free time with a diverse group of really cool people that understand me.
Not all NSOs want to be skaters — did you ever want to be a skater? Do you consider yourself more than “support staff”?
I never wanted to be a skater — I was only at an NHRD info session as moral support for one of my good friends (Jager Raider). I was shocked when Woody Yankabitch, the head ref at the time, told me I could get involved with derby without skating or competing. I was so excited! While I’ve never had the desire to be a skater, I do own skates, and encourage all girls that are still building their skills to NSO for a year. It’s a great way to learn the rules, get to know the skaters and understand strategy.
Any position / job you like doing better or worse than others?
I like all of the NSO jobs-they each have their own challenge, but it lets you understand derby a lot more once you get it!
I’ve been with the league since 2008 and with derby since 2007. I’ve seen derby grow so quickly in that time – especially our own league. How do you feel about being a part of NHRD – or do you feel more like a Universal Soldier as we often help out other leagues and teams?
I joined NHRD in 2009, the year we became a WFTDA apprentice league. As the first WFTDA league in New Hampshire, I think NHRD has a great balance of helping out the smaller leagues around us while focusing on ways to evolve as a league. For the officials, it’s great. We get opportunities weekly to officiate with different leagues throughout the area (last year, I drove about 11,000 to different bouts and tournaments). This lets us learn new methods and grow our experience for the bigger tournaments.
Would you consider switching to coaching or something else more closely working with the teams/skaters?
I really like being a Zebro! It’s the best team since we never lose!
“Briefly” explain the NSO/Ref testing and levels so that people understand we’re not just pulling penalties out of our butts! That we actually have training and rules and procedures.
My friends outside derby are always surprised by how many rules there are. “It’s that sport where girls in underpants beat each other up, right?” The rule book is 65 pages long. As it’s a sport that is still evolving, there are revisions that happen constantly. Officials not only need to know the rules, but also need to stay up with the WFTDA rules discussions, as there are changes throughout the season. There are five levels of certification for Non-Skating Officials. Certifications are reserved for the officials that WFTDA sees going beyond the standard expectations. To get certified, an official needs to pass a very tough rules test, have other leagues write evaluations and submit a packet to a committee that evaluates if you meet the criteria. It’s a big process, and we have to go through it every two years to keep the certifications active.
Thank you Jitter! A woman of great organizational skills and a fabulous SHOE wardrobe! We’d all just be making left hand turns without you!
If you would like information about becoming an NSO or a referee, please contact Jitter at firstname.lastname@example.org.