Our featured skater for the month of June is Hellvetica of the Kansas City Roller Warriors!
Name: Hellvetica Current Team(s): 18 & Vines and KCRW All-Stars Number: 24 Position(s): Jammer Seasons with KCRW: 2010-2014 with the KCRW Juniors; 2019-present with KCRW
Q: How did you first get involved with the Kansas City Roller Warriors?
“My mom, Murphy’s Law, joined KCRW in 2007 after seeing an article that KCRW won nationals. She helped start and coach the first KCRW Juniors program in 2010, so of course I had to join! I always enjoyed skating growing up, and I loved watching my mom play, so I was excited to get out there and try it. After aging out of Juniors, I took some time off to go to school, but after I graduated I was at the first tryout KCRW had.
Q: Tell us about the origin of your derby name.
“I am a graphic designer by day, and Helvetica is one of my favorite fonts, so after some thinking, Hellvetica was born! Now that I am the Communications Officer for KCRW and do a lot of the design/marketing for us, it makes even more sense. You might hear people on the track shortening my name and calling me Vetti, though!
Q: Any derby idols?
“It is so tough to just name a few skaters. There are so many that I look up to! To name a few of the usual suspects, I would say Loren Mutch, Bonnie Thunders, and Freight Train. After going to Denver to watch BIPOC Bowl this year, I would add Crank Dat, Yeti, Jams Bond, and Tarantula to that list. And I, of course, can’t help but name a few current and past KCRW skaters like Bricks Hit-House, Bones, Bruz-Her, Eclipse, and Track Rat. There are too many great skaters out there, past and present, to name them all, though.
Q: Roller derby changes every life it touches. How has it changed yours?
“Being surrounded by a group of people I get to hit (or I guess be hit [by], in my case) and then still grab drinks and call my friends after is just unmatched. I have met so many amazing people through this sport and continue to meet more and more as KCRW continues to grow! I have learned new skills, skating related and life related, just from being a part of this league—but also through holding a leadership role. I had the opportunity to help lead our home team rebrand, which was so exciting to be a part of from a designer’s perspective. Every day, I am reminded of how lucky I am that I get to play this amazing sport surrounded by some of my best friends. I love this league and all the people that make it possible to be a part of it!”
To learn more about Hellvetica and the Kansas City Roller Warriors, find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
We’ve seen the numbers fall just perfectly like this a few times in the past, but never have we seen these numbers with the Deadly Sirens on top.
And you know what? They’re probably going to stay that way—but we won’t know until this Saturday night when the Sirens take on the Shotgun Sheilas, who are making their tenth consecutive championship appearance.
Yes, tenth—something that is unprecedented and unmatched in the annals of Kansas City roller derby. No other team, in this league or any other in this town, has made 10 consecutive championship appearances. That’s something that can’t be taken away no matter who wins this weekend.
Royal Pains, 0-3 Points scored: 140 Points allowed: 223 Point differential: -83
This would seem to be a run-of-the-mill championship bout: The two teams with the best records and the best point differentials are facing off for the trophy, and the best team will win. Right?
We tend to follow the numbers, but to be fair, that’s led to predictive disaster a fair number of times in the past, like when the Lovely Lethals upset the Sheilas in 2016, the Susans upset the Dorothys in 2017, and the Vixens threw everyone for a loop in 2019 when they took down the Knockouts in the upset of the century.
On one hand, the Sirens soundly defeated the Sheilas in their only match-up earlier this year, final score 58-35. On the other, if we know anything about the Shotgun Sheilas and their history, we know you’d be a fool to count them out completely. So we don’t.
Truthfully, this is just the Sirens’ year. It’s going to happen. We’re predicting a Deadly Sirens win by a margin of 12 points—and that, my fellow derby fans, will complete the set. The Sirens will bring home their first-ever Fountain City Roller Derby house championship and bring a welcome end to one of the most bewildering dry spells in Kansas City roller derby history.
No one seems to know why a Sirens squad that’s traditionally been packed with talent can never seem to notch enough wins to make the magic happen, but this year, they finally have everything going for them—and we couldn’t be more thrilled. The only thing left is to do it. It’s going to be one hell of a championship game.
So join us trackside this Saturday night for the final house game of the season. The Royal Pains and Lovely Lethals will kick the night off with the annual grudge match, and then it’s go time: The Sirens and the Sheilas face off for all the marbles. As always, we can’t wait to see how this one shakes out, and we wish all of these teams nothing but the best of luck as they show us all, once again, what they’re made of.
Our featured skater for the month of March is none other than UniScorn of Fountain City Roller Derby!
Current Team(s): Shotgun Sheilas, Public Enemies, Zombie League (rotating rosters) Number: 30 Position(s): inside, photographer, cheerleader Seasons with FCRD: 2012 recruitment class
Q: How did you begin shooting for the roller derby leagues as Zaftig Unicorn Photography, and what made you decide to eventually transition to competing on the track?
“In 2012, I went to a then-Dead Girl Derby recruitment night after Breakdown had invited me to her rookie bouts (IIRC) as a Royal Pain. I actually joined the league wanting to be a Competitive Derby Skater™.
But I fractured a kneecap in 2012 and broke my right ankle in 2013 (I’d previously broken my left ankle in 2001), so I was like, Hmmmm, seems like my contribution to derby can best be as a volunteer. (In fact, I photographed the 2013 championship bout from a wheelchair just days after the break.) Photography just sort of fell into place as the thing I could do that helped the league.
Once I had opportunities to take pictures outside Fountain City Roller Derby, I wanted to ‘formalize’ the photography bit. At first, I wanted to be ‘Chubby Unicorn Photography’ because it flows, but there’s a Chubby Unicorn skateboard. I wanted to keep the energy of being a fat unicorn, so Zaftig Unicorn was born. (The extraordinarily talented Zombina designed my logo!)
Ironically, the first photo set posted on the Zaftig Unicorn Photography page? Team photos for 2014’s Black Plague, the team for my competitive roller derby debut this year. That team included current Royal Pain Freddie Cruel Girl and ref Jake From Skate Farm!
I still skated at practices over the years because I like skating and I loved the community, but I wasn’t focused on anything at practices really other than putting on skates and not falling. After all, I wasn’t going to be skating competitively, so why push myself? Also, falling hurts and it takes an embarrassingly long time to get up. Sure, falling is learning, but I don’t really need to learn anything that badly. I got better just because I was skating, but as for goals? **shrug city**
Then COVID happened, and I had a wee lil midlife crisis. So when FCRD came back for the 2022 season, I was rawr. FCRD had started its trainee program (skaters who weren’t roster-eligible were drafted to teams as trainees), so I got to skate at practices with the Shotgun Sheilas and the Public Enemies and get personal attention and support from coaches and captains like Wyatt, Racen Voorhees, Aneeda Hurtcha, CleoSmashYa, G.O., Cherry Violence, Loki Hustlin’, and Brittany Speared (and now Leroy Jenkins). Being a part of teams also meant I got to have all these fantastic in-house role models.
To me, it made a difference, having a team to work for, people I didn’t want to let down. I forced myself into situations I’d been avoiding at practices (like taking part in blocking, which is sort of a big part of derby) and Coach Voorhees made it clear he was sure I was ready for pack drills (which I’d also been avoiding, even though they, too, are sort of a big part of derby).
So my skills got better, and that’s when I really started thinking I might be able to skate in an actual competitive roller derby bout.
I’m so happy FCRD’s Zombie League is shambling back to infect the willing. It would be difficult for me to make the roster for a Sheilas or Pubs game—our talent pool is so deep, it triggers my thalassophobia—so Zombie League lets me play the sport I love, learn all the same strategies, and engage in the same gameplay as the house teams but with people around my skill level. It’s everything I could ever hope for, and a damn sight better than many get.”
Q: Tell us about the origin of your derby name.
“I didn’t want to have a name I’d regret or something I couldn’t relate to later. I’m terribly flighty, but I’ve always loved unicorns and always will. So: UniScorn. It doesn’t flow, but I’m not changing it this far into it.
I’m adding the story behind my number because it’s nerdy and I’m a dork. Back in the day, reporters would end their stories with -30- to mark the end of the story in case pages were shuffled. So my number is 30 because I will end you.“
Q: Roller derby changes every life it touches. How has it changed yours?
“Holy smokes. I know you said I could be as long-winded as I want to be (which, you know, challenge accepted), but there’s not enough space on Al Gore’s internet, now or ever, to mention all the ways roller derby has altered my existence for the better.
Roller derby has given me physicality I’d assumed wasn’t mine to have, like, on a cellular level. I don’t come from athletic or coordinated people, and I have zero sports background—no peewee leagues, no school teams (I threw discus maybe three times), nothing sports-related (unless marching and pep bands count). I cannot overstate how little physical activity of any sort I was interested or experienced in. I was an indoor kid. (I also don’t like to sweat.) But I love skating. It’s the closest thing to flying we get to do on the ground. That you sneak in exercise (which is apparently good for you or something) is just *chef’s kiss*. I’m pretty sure I can now do things on skates that would have had me tripping over shadows 10 years ago.
I’m a better photographer thanks to derby. Zaftig Unicorn Photography wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t wanted a space to post derby pictures. And as Zaftig Unicorn, I’ve gotten to take family pictures and artistic portraits for people I wouldn’t have known except for derby. Derby has helped me refine my vision as a photographer and given me experiences I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Working with [KC Derby Digest] has been a big part of that, too—brainstorming the best ways to highlight the sport we both love!
And the people, ohmygoodness, the people. I’m an ‘anxiety pukes and [bodily function redacted]’ introvert, but there’s something special about the Kansas City derby (and skate) community. Before I started at FCRD, my anxiety was in a ‘research everything to death online before you do it’ phase, and a lot of what I read was about how roller derby leagues could be very toxic. But there was none of that. I found people willing to help me find new favorite versions of myself—athletically, mentally, and emotionally.
I’ve made friends through roller derby, but more than that, I’ve found teachers, guardians, muses, and soulmates.”
Q: Your journey in this sport is a story replete with perseverance and obstacles overcome. What keeps you going, and what advice do you have for anyone questioning if they have what it takes?
“That’s a super diplomatic way of saying I’m stubborn. LOL! But also, I’m stubborn.
Once I decided I wanted to get better at skating, I wanted to get better at skating, by God. And I don’t think I’m anywhere near the best skater I can be yet, so I’m going to keep showing up and working at it. I can’t wait to see where I am in three months. (I have to say here how lucky I am to have undying support from Lone Rager, who skates with the Capital City Crushers. She’s been convinced of my ability to do the thing since we met. The night I nailed transitions, she was the first person I sent the video to.)
But even when improving wasn’t my goal, I showed up because skating was fun, and I loved FCRD and the sport. Just getting to soak up the positive energy sometimes made it worth showing up.
And really, that’s the key: If you want to do it, find something about it that keeps you wanting to show up. There’s a place for practically anybody and any body in derby. Bring a good attitude and a willingness to participate, and you’re halfway there.
Not everyone will get out of roller derby (and the roller derby community) what the rest of us get out of it. Some people come, but for whatever reason, desperately do not want to be there. Roller derby just isn’t their hobby/security blanket/obsession—but I sure hope they get to find whatever their ‘roller derby’ is.
It can be frustrating, especially as someone new to athletics, to push myself as hard as I possibly can and not see immediate results. I’m very much into instant gratification. But I also remember that all those years I wasn’t trying? I really wasn’t getting any better.
Loki said something like: Derby is a bunch of little clicks and then there’s a big click. Then a bunch of little clicks, then a big click.
So you just gotta string together enough of those little clicks to get to that big click. Maybe you need more little clicks than your buddy. Maybe your buddy’s big click was just one of your little clicks. No matter what, though, your leaguemates are going to help you celebrate every one.
The strides I’ve made in the last 18 months make me wonder where I’d be if I’d taken skating more seriously when I came back after my broken leg in 2014. I’m currently 52 and I have arthritis in my hips, knees, and ankles. Realistically, it would’ve been better to do all of this nine years ago.
But this is the youngest I’m going to be from here on out, and this is the time and body I have to work with, so … FIVE SECONDS! *tweet*”
To learn more about the incomparable UniScorn and all the incredible Fountain City Roller Derby action, find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
There’s a lot going on here. You don’t need very many fingers to count the number of times the Deadly Sirens have started the season at 2-0. It’s even less common that they’ve sat atop the league alone.
The Sirens, talented as they’ve always been, have not had much luck in the win-loss column through most of the 20-teens, and not to beat a dead horse, but they remain, to this day, the only Fountain City Roller Derby team to have never taken home the house championship.
Let me tell you—this could be the year that changes. Let’s take a look at a bit of history.
The Sirens Throughout the Years
In 2011, the first year for the current house teams, the Deadly Sirens spent most of the season looking like the team to beat. They handily defeated everyone in their path for the first four games of the season and began the year at 4-0.
Then, they lost their top-scoring jammer, a phenom named Helen Killer who was averaging over 35 points a game when she vanished. And that is exactly what happened—as far as the public could tell, Ms. Killer disappeared into thin air and was never seen again.
Since then, we’ve heard several versions of what happened and why she left the league, but none of that is important. People leave roller derby for a variety of personal and professional reasons all the time. All things being equal, one reason is as valid as another.
But her absence was certainly felt—that year and in years to come. Remember the part about how she was averaging over 35 points a game? The Sirens only lost that year’s championship game to the Lethals by 14 points, which tells you everything you need to know about what an asset she was. No team is one player, of course, but high-octane jammers like Helen Killer can and do make an immediate difference, both with their presence and their absence. The Sirens losing the championship game that year was the last thing anyone expected just a few weeks prior.
In the years that followed, the Sirens struggled. As the league moved from River Roll to Hale Arena to B&D Skate Center, the Ladies in Teal seemed to find themselves at the bottom of the heap more often than not, once even forfeiting the final period of a game in accordance with MADE’s mercy rule. For several years in a row, they were only able to notch one or maybe two wins per season (at most) and still usually lost the annual grudge match to whatever team happened to be in the cellar with them at the time. In all, it was a rough time to be a Sirens fan.
Things really started to turn around for the Sirens in 2018 when they fought their way back to Fountain City’s championship game for the first time in seven years. And although they dropped that game (and the trophy) to the Sheilas, they turned around and made a repeat appearance the following year, once again losing out to the Sheilas but putting the derby community on notice that they were not to be trifled with.
COVID hit, the world ended, and we lost the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Somehow, though, the Deadly Sirens barely missed a beat. They missed the championship game in 2022, but now, just one year later, they find themselves halfway through the new season and sitting as comfortably on top as they can with the other half still in front of them.
A Look Ahead
Thus far, the Sirens have outscored their opponents 132-76 overall and even held the terrifying Shotgun Sheilas to only 35 points in last month’s game. (Helen Killer used to score that many points by herself.)
It’s a bit early to start making predictions, but it’s not at all unreasonable to say that the Deadly Sirens have a very, very good chance of making Fountain City Roller Derby history at this year’s championship game. There seems to be little doubt they’ll go to the big dance, given their performance thus far, but I’d go so far as to say they’re in a good position to make 2023 the Year of the Siren and bring home their first house championship in league history.
All we can do is watch. And cheer. And cross our fingers. Whoever your favorite team(s) may be, join us trackside for Fountain City’s next nailbiting event on March 25 as the Sirens take on the only team they haven’t faced this season, the Lovely Lethals.
Between that and the game between the Royal Pains and the Shotgun Sheilas, we’re all in for quite a night of flat track action at Olahrama (formerly B&D Skate Center). Check out the event page on Facebook for all the information, and start placing your bets, because the next event on April 29 will be the championship game.
Will the Deadly Sirens be there? We say yes.
Will they take home the trophy? We don’t know… but at this point, a “no” doesn’t seem like a very safe bet.
This Sunday night at Skate City West, the Kansas City Roller Warriors are finally back to a regular schedule in what they’re calling their Mini Home Team Season.
And as D’Nouncer Duane put it on draft night, “It is the dawn of a new era.” Because, my fellow derby fans and enthusiasts, you are witnessing just that.
If you haven’t heard the news, the Kansas City Roller Warriors are making history by not only redrafting all the teams but also creating new house teams altogether.
You read that right. Our hometown teams, the Dreadnought Dorothys, the Victory Vixens, the Black Eye Susans, and the Knockouts have seen their last games. That could be the biggest news in the history of the league, apart from when the teams were first formed to begin with. As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not sure how to feel about it, but first, let’s take a look at what’s ahead.
The 2023 Season
When the pandemic hit, the first things to shut down were sports and recreation leagues. No one knew what to expect; some even speculated we’d be back in action in only a few weeks. That… isn’t quite what happened, and in the meantime, a lot of people put a lot of thought into what’s important and what they wanted to do moving forward.
As you may remember, the 2019-20 season promised big things—chief among them more than a half-dozen returning veterans from years past that old school fans like myself could only dream of seeing on the flat track again.
But the pandemic changed a lot of things. Some players who may have been on the fence about continuing to skate perhaps saw an opportunity for a clean break. Others decided to mix it up a little more and joined Fountain City Roller Derby since that league began playing quite a bit earlier than KCRW did. Any way you cut it, the Roller Warriors found themselves with far fewer available players than before the world ended, which explains not only the delay in restarting house team competition but also the decision to rebrand with three new house teams.
Our new Kansas City Roller Warriors house teams are named after well-known Kansas City locales, and they are the Strawberry Hellions, the 18th & Vines, and the Midtown Misfits.
We couldn’t be more thrilled with the thought and creative design that went into these new teams, their names, and their mascots. Big picture, the whole thing frankly couldn’t be more perfect. When Dead Girl Derby changed its name to Fountain City Roller Derby at the end of the 2014 season, they did so to better tie the league to its beloved hometown. It was a brilliant move.
And although saying goodbye to the four house teams we’ve loved and cheered on for more than a decade isn’t easy, we’re equally excited about how these new house team names will reflect where they’re from and represent Kansas City at least as well as their predecessors did.
Some Final Thoughts
The Glitter Mafia will live on in our hearts. “Black Eye or Die” will forever be a trackside battle cry in Kansas City. The Vixens made us love the red, white, and blue in a way we never thought possible. The Dorothys’ six-year championship streak may never be duplicated.
The memories we’ve shared with this league since we discovered it in late 2009 are practically endless. We watched in awe every season as the Dreadnought Dorothys steamrolled team after team, taking home trophy after trophy, seemingly impervious to the skill and tenacity of the teams with whom they shared the track.
We celebrated with the Victory Vixens in 2012 as they became the first non-Dorothys Rink of Fire champions in league history.
We held our breath as the Black Eye Susans captured their first Rink of Fire title the following year in one hell of a nailbiter that featured the very first overtime jam we’d ever seen.
And the Knockouts completed the set as they won their first Rink of Fire championship the year after that, something that would’ve been practically unthinkable just a few short seasons earlier.
We mourned alongside our Roller Warrior friends in 2016 at the untimely passing of the legendary Coach Ice, who (among many other things) helped lead our All Star team to the national title in 2007.
We cheered again for the red, white, and blue in 2015 and 2016 as the Vixens became the first team since the Dorothys to win back-to-back championships.
In 2017, the 3-3 Susans defeated the 6-0 Dorothys in one of the most shocking upsets in Rink of Fire history up to that point.
Not to be outdone, the 2019 Vixens topped even that as they entered the Rink of Fire with a dismal 2-4 record and soundly defeated the 6-0 Knockouts in an outcome no one could have seen coming, no matter what they tell you.
For all the years, all the cheers, all the tears, and everything else we shared with these four house teams: Thank you.
Thank you for the endless talent, dedication, patience, and commitment it took to keep this incredible labor of love afloat all these years, and thank you, as always, for the opportunity you’ve afforded us to join you in promoting and enjoying the Greatest Sport in the World… in the greatest city in the world for it.
We will miss the Ruby Reds, the stars and stripes, the Ladies in Teal, and the Black & Yellow, certainly—but we also look forward to a future in which a new generation of Roller Warriors action takes the track and makes new memories for a new generation of roller derby fans… right alongside the old ones.
Onward and upward, Roller Warriors. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got for us next.
Our featured skater for the month of February is TBone Trina of the Deadly Sirens!
Current Team(s): Deadly Sirens, Usual Suspects, FCRD Travel Team Number(s): 311, 48, 15 Position(s): Jammer/Pivot/Blocker Seasons with FCRD: 7
Q: How did you come to be involved with roller derby?
“I got orders from the Marines to KC in March 2015. I had no friends except for a fellow retired Marine, Denissa (50Cal-E), who was my co-worker at the MEPS office. She told me about her upcoming April game, which was the 2015 Championship game. Wow, I was so impressed with the ladies out there hitting and going so hard! I was sucked in and at boot camp that summer.”
Q:Tell us about the origin of your derby name.
“I was the trombone player in a ska band in high school and we all had nicknames. TBone Trina was mine, so I decided to revive my glory days and bring that stage presence back to the track.”
Q:Roller derby changes every life it touches. How has it changed yours?
“The community of friends is like no other. I wouldn’t have met some of my very best friends without derby—from being at my wedding to my pregnancy announcement at a street team event to my kids being loved on since they were eight weeks old and friends watching them for games. Derby has been the thread I didn’t know I needed sewn into my life.”
Q: Any derby idols?
“From that very first game, I was blown away by so many! A lot have since retired, like Disco Biscuit, Buff ‘N Stuff, and sisters [10acious V and Valkillrie], but most inspiring for sure was Black Mamba (I still fangirl over her) because I saw someone who looked like me out there doing it too, and that kept me going. Also, Freight Train is so amazing! Looking forward to playing with her again at the BIPOC Bowl in Denver in April.”
Q: What makes TBone Trina tick? What keeps you going in this crazy love we call roller derby?
“I am an adrenaline junkie! It gets the aggression out, and this is my outlet. I try to keep a positive attitude. Everything is a learning experience. I’m widening my eyes and looking forward to traveling more, learning rule sets, and having opportunities to play with more BIPOC skaters. My goal now is to be an inspiration for other Black and Brown kids in the community and introduce them to this awesome sport.”
To learn more about TBone Trina, the Deadly Sirens, and all the incredible Fountain City Roller Derby action, find and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!
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