Get comfortable and get ready for a chat with Atari JoyKick, #2600 from the Granite Skate Troopers. She’s a hard working lady, Mom, card designer…AND ATHLETE! Atari has a BIG HEART that shows in her life as well as her attitude towards skating. Thanks for showing us the true spirit of derby.
I have to ask the obvious. What’s with the name and number (Atari 2600)? You don’t seem like a gamer…especially one that kicks it old school.
In 1982, my sister bought an Atari 2600, and I’ve been hooked on video games ever since! As a kid, we would have family Pac-Man competitions (even with prizes!), and I was constantly begging my sister to let me play… “Can I play Atari?? Please???” (Thanks, Sis!) Aside from that, I’m probably more of a gamer than most boys you know In the arcade, or at home… It brings out my fun and competitive side. Atari will always be the first, and the best
How did you come to derby? Did you know someone who was involved?
In April of 2010, I randomly asked my friend what she had always wanted to do with her life. Her answer: be a roller derby girl. (Certainly not the answer I was expecting!!) I looked it up online, and NHRD was having a sign up two weeks from that date. I went out and bought my friend some cheap skates and gear. I told her I’d go with her for “moral support,” but as we were leaving to sign her up, I said, “I want to try it too!!” We got me some cheap skates and gear, and the rest is history.
I’ve been with the league for quite some time, and I’ve seen people come and go. Everyone is gung ho from the start, but then the going gets tough… I’ve seen you work so hard and improve so much. I was there for your first scrimmage and you got sent to the box! I was so happy for you – as were your teammates. There’s obviously a spark inside that keeps you going. Could you talk about it?
Derby has been/continues to be the hardest and most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life! When I started, I could only skate in a straight line, and couldn’t stop without using a wall or a floor to crash into! When I signed up, pretty much everyone I told laughed right in my face. I have never played a sport, or been athletic in any way. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I CAN do this, and I WILL. It’s a struggle mentally and physically for me, but… you know it’s for you when you leave practice crying in frustration and still can’t wait to put those skates back on and try again! At a recent bout, I heard the announcer say, “All of these girls are athletes!”…. It shocked me, and I thought, “Wow. I’m an athlete???… Hey! I AM AN ATHLETE!!!” I felt proud of how far I’ve come.
Words of advice for newbies (and oldbies!) on hanging in there?
Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s easy to get frustrated when you are struggling and others appear to do things effortlessly. You are not those people… You can just be the best “you” that you can be! Ask for advice and assistance. Derby girls are amazing and will ALWAYS help you! Don’t be intimidated! Just ask!! (I do!) The best advice I can give is never, ever, ever, ever give up. Ever.
You are also quite the artist and card creator. How extensive is this art career?
As a little kid, I wanted to “grow up to be an artist.” About seven years ago, I realized that I was hand-painting forty Christmas cards at a time, and each year it was growing in number! I decided to open my own online shop, making and selling my art and hand-painted cards. I have now sold my cards to people all over the U.S. and the world! It makes me happy to think that someone would want to buy/own something I’ve made… It’s a great feeling! Atari was too shy, but I weaseled it out of her. Visit her website @ http://www.etsy.com/shop/happydaystudio
You have the cutest little son ever! What does Elijah think about Mom being a derby girl?
Awww, thank you! First off, he loves the ladies…. So obviously he loves hanging out at practice. Derby is a huge time commitment, so I try to include him as much as I can. You may see him at fundraising events or at bouts cheering on his favorite teams (currently the Troopers – of course! – and the Cherry Bombs.) I want to teach him that even when something is hard, you have to keep trying. When you fall down (literally or figuratively), you always get back up – no matter what. I always use myself as an example, “Did you see Mommy fall down all those times? Did you see me get right back up again? That’s what we do! You always get back up! Even if it’s hard!” I hope someday he’ll be proud of me and say, “That’s my mom… She plays roller derby!” I think he already is, Atari!!