Our Featured Skater for the month of February is
Dreadlocked N. Loaded of the Kansas City Roller Warriors!
Name: Dreadlocked N. Loaded
Team: Victory Vixens
Seasons with KCRW: 2
How did you discover the Kansas City Roller Warriors, and what made you decide to join?
“My partner at the time and I had been to a couple of KCRW games, but between work and school, we weren’t able to make it back until 2015. Around the same time, she started attending a Derby Lite class and encouraged me to try it. I really wasn’t sure, since it had been decades since the last time I had skated, but it did start to grow on me. Then we signed up for a Warriors in Training session in 2016, and about halfway through that session, the derby bug snuck up and bit me.”
Tell us the origin of your derby name.
“Initially, I had considered using some form of my real name. I toyed around with Bangston Hughes, then Trace Element, but I wasn’t really feeling either one. Then one day, I was washing and re-twisting my waist-long dreadlocks. I finished my hair and looked in the mirror, and all of a sudden, the light bulb was ON. In essence, the name comes from me literally having a good hair day.
I scrambled to the Internet and checked derby name databases to see if anyone else had that name, and was surprised that it hadn’t been used yet, so I claimed it!
The “Dreadlocked” part is obvious, but I’m still working on the “Loaded” part, which actually means two things. Physically, as I get in better shape from playing derby, my arms and legs are getting stronger and more muscular. The second meaning is more ironic, since “loaded” can be slang for being drunk or on drugs, but I’ve actually been sober for more than 25 years.”
Roller derby changes every life it touches. How has it changed yours?
“Derby has definitely helped me get stronger in several ways. I’ve never been that great of an athlete, and derby requires a certain amount of strength and stamina, so if I want to get better at this sport, I have to put in the work through on-skates practices and off-skates strengthening such as squats, lunges, and core work. (Yikes, I haaaaaaaate core work… but it’s gotta be done.) At one point, I was down 40 pounds just from skating and doing some 30-day challenges. It’s definitely a test of commitment at times, because that TV or those blankets just look soooooooooooo gooooooooooood, but I can use those as rewards for after a practice or workout.
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve gotten better about beating my own self up. My first year skating with KCRW, I was pretty brutal… I yelled at myself a lot because I wasn’t improving quickly enough, I wasn’t rising up to the same level as my teammates, and I wasn’t nailing things perfectly. But that pressure wasn’t coming from anyone else in the league; I had been putting it all on myself, thinking that I had to prove that I belonged here. In reality, that pressure was coming from some issues outside of derby, and once I started working on those things, I noticed a decrease in yelling and an increase in patience, which helped me concentrate better in both my normal life and my derby life.”
Any notable injuries so far?
“It’s been mostly some stiffness and muscle tightness, fortunately. Last year I had a minor knee injury and some back pain, but physical therapy and chiropractic care was very helpful.
This season, I got my first ever concussion during second half of the January 20th game. To a certain extent, I think I lucked out in that the way I got the concussion was a bit of a fluke –- I fell on the floor face-first, which isn’t covered by my helmet –- but still, a head injury is never something to take lightly. After seeing a concussion specialist and a physical therapist, I just got clearance to resume activity after nearly a month off skates, and if all goes well, I hope to be back on the track with the Vixens soon.”
What sets you apart in KCRW?
“I try to be as positive to my teammates and league mates as possible. Sure, I might be having a rough time on the track, but that doesn’t mean that I have to pull folks into that bad mood with me. If I have to choose between sulking in my own pity pool and speaking life into someone, I’m leaning towards speaking that life. Catch someone after a jam and tell them how powerful they were on the track. Message a new skater and tell them how much you’re enjoying watching them grow. Be available lend a hand, offer a shoulder, give a hug. Those are things that cost nothing to give, yet are valuable beyond measure.”