Our featured Roller Warrior for the month of August is the always-indomitable Mary Lou Wretched!
Name: Mary Lou Wretched Team: The Knockouts, All Stars Number: Au79 Position(s): Jammer
How she discovered KCRW: I transferred to KCRW after spending two full seasons with the Springfield Rollergirls. KCRW was our mentor league when SRG was a WFTDA Apprentice league. In fact, the All Star team had come to play SRG during my first season and watching them play was breathtaking. I instantly became smitten with them.
Origin of her derby name: As a child of the ’80s, Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton was one of my heroes. I always loved the fact that she was a charming, All American girl and fearless athlete. So when my best friend suggested “Mary Lou Wretched,” I knew it was perfect for me.
Favorite derby moment: I’ll never forget my first bout. I had been dreaming about playing roller derby for years, and skating out onto the floor for the first time ever proved that I had the guts to go out and make things happen for myself.
Favorite skater: I don’t think I can name just one favorite skater! I will say, Bruz Her has been an incredible inspiration to me this season. Not only has she been a phenomenal teammate and captain, but she’s really pushed me mentally to continue to be my best. The women who represent KCRW are all amazing, and I’m so grateful to be working with them and having people like Trauma, Evolution, Bella Fire, Annie Maul (I could go on and on) teaching me how to play this game. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Amber Lager from the Springfield Rollergirls. She was my first introduction to roller derby and I’m so grateful that she’s what first helped me grow into the player that I am today.
Derby philosophy: I often like to quote the movie Roadhouse: “Pain don’t hurt.” As ridiculous as it might be, I do find some truth in it. You have to be a strong person to play roller derby. You not only have to work through your physical aches and pains, but often, you have mental challenges to work through, too. Eventually, you find yourself pushing through these challenges without blinking an eye. I try to stay positive, keep a smile on my face, and show my teammates and our fans that I’m totally in love with this sport.
Our featured Roller Warrior for the month of July is Knockouts co-captain Ruff Draft!
Name: Ruff Draft Team: The Knockouts Number: 2.0 Position(s): Blocker
How she discovered KCRW: In 2007, we bought a ticket through Arts Alive! It was a combination ticket with an art gallery opening at the Hobbs Building combined with a ticket to roller derby at Hale Arena. My husband and I had been to a few Arts Alive! events and our reaction to this was, “how did we not know about roller derby in Kansas City?” We went to the bout and loved the energy, enthusiasm, and uniqueness of the sport.
Origin of her derby name: I tried out for the 2008 season and was a terrible skater. I didn’t make it through tryouts. I promised to spend the year improving my skating ability and learning the game, so I served as a referee during the 2008 season. The name is a combination of two things: partly a play on my profession (I am an architect, so drafting is part of what I do) and partly because I considered myself a “work in progress.”
Favorite derby moment: When I was first involved with derby there was a fantastic rivalry between Kelley Young on the Dorothys and Xcelerator on the Knockouts. Their jammer battles were epic. One bout, when I was a jammer referee, Kelley had gotten the better of X and flipped around to skate backwards to be a little showy. X was hot on her tail and laid her shoulder directly into Kelley. Kelley went flying but still got up with a smile on her face and a little nod of “you got me.” That’s roller derby.
Favorite skater: There are so many that I admire for different reasons, but my favorite has to be Delia Death. She always played with such fierceness and intensity, with the best expression of joy and fun on her face.
Derby philosophy: This is a sport like no other, and a women’s organization like no other. While we welcome all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, you can only excel if you are willing to work very hard and be a student of the game. You have to be smart, fit, and tenacious. It has taught me a lot about myself and the lessons we learn through derby can spill over into every aspect of our lives, increasing confidence in ourselves and empowering us to be stronger and more resilient. That probably sounds trite, but I have seen a lot of people change their lives after playing derby and I have seen our junior girls really come into their own when they did not fit into other sports. It is a powerful thing.
How she discovered Dead Girl Derby: I was at RenFest in the fall of 2010 getting a beer. I looked up and noticed a skull and crossbones flag with skates and asked the wenches if they were a roller derby team; they handed me a recruitment flyer, and it has been love ever since.
Origin of her derby name: I hate nicknames, so it was hard. I actually did not pick out my own name, my friend Jenifer did.
Favorite derby moment: Its a toss-up between the Cowtown Butchers expo game when it all clicked, or the last time we played the Shotgun Sheilas and got my first fan.
Favorite skater: I have two favorite skaters. The first skater I fell in love with was Kancer Stiik. When I first started derby, I just admired how well she skated. I would watch her at every practice. My second favorite skater is Pippi Strongblocking, I want to be just like her when I grow up!
If you fall down and break, if you love it a lot, then get up and keep doing it! I was devastated when I broke my leg my first year and had to live by that motto to get where I am today!
One of the most common questions I’ve gotten this season so far has been, quite simply, “How do you decide who your ‘featured skaters’ are each month?” Readers (and writers) of KC Derby Digest can, month after month, name half a dozen ladies in each league deserving of such recognition, and it’s been brought to my attention that the process needs a bit of demystifying.
Well, you’re in luck. Not only is the “process” quite minimal, it’s also very flexible and leaves nearly everyone in the league eligible, not just the superstars. True, we’ve had some very high-profile Track Rats and Dir-T Dianas featured this season, but we’ve also introduced a couple of very promising new rookies named Cuppa Crazy and Buffy Slammers who were no less deserving.
Having said all this, here are the rules of eligibility for KC Derby Digest‘s featured skater of the month, followed by a quick look at how we go about selecting them.
1. She should be an active, full-time skater in good standing with the league.
For our purposes, an “active” skater is anyone who’s not out on injury or medical leave of any kind. “Full-time” is really a misnomer, because there’s no such thing as a part-time derby girl; this just means any player who isn’t All-Star-only. This season, Kansas City has no All-Star-only skaters.
“Good standing” refers to her eligibility to skate in that month’s bout. Sometimes skaters are ineligible to play simply because they’ve missed too many practices that month, and that can be difficult for us to know because we’re not always privy to that information from the outside. But we’ll do our best.
None of this, of course, is meant to diminish the contribution of those ladies whose injuries have temporarily kept them off wheels. Edith Myfist, for instance, was injured back in November but continues to design game programs, flyers, logos, and advertisements for Dead Girl Derby and the Blacksnake Rollergirls‘ upcoming events — not to mention KC Derby Digest‘s own logos on our Facebook page.
Logo by Edith My-motherflippin’-fist.
Featured Skaters, though, should be currently playing and actively skating in time for that month’s home game. This means that once KCRW‘s season progresses past the Rink of Fire championship, only All-Star and Plan B players will be considered, because they’re the only ones skating. Any All-Star-only players who weren’t eligible prior to the Rink of Fire will be eligible from that point on.
2. The league should have a full season of regularly-scheduled home games.
Several people wondered why there was no Featured Banked Beauty after their successful home opener on April 21st. Very simply: that was the only game the Beauties had on the horizon at that time, and a featured skater “for the month of April” sounds a little silly if there’s not one for any other month the entire season. She might as well be Skater of the Year in that case, and that’s really not where we’re going with this.
“You came in first out of one — nice!”
You may have noticed that we haven’t named a Featured Butcher for the same reason. We can’t wait to begin featuring players from these phenomenal leagues, too, once their schedules become a bit more fleshed out. In the meantime, we’ll keep on promoting their games and events, same as we always have.
3. A Featured Skater will only be chosen during months in which the league holds a home game.
This is kind of a corollary to #2 above, but I thought it was worth mentioning. It’s mainly an issue of logistics. We try to piggyback that month’s column on that month’s game, and we also make a point to get a handful of new photos of the Featured Skater before the game begins. Obviously, none of that is possible if they don’t have a home game that month.
KCRW, for some damn reason, didn’t have a home game at all in May, so there wasn’t a Featured Roller Warrior either.
You and me both, buddy.
So far, no league has held more than one home game in a given month, so we’ll keep dodging that bullet for as long as we can.
So now what?
We began the 2012 season with the idea in mind that each team in each league would be represented once; after that, all bets are off. At this point, each of Dead Girl Derby‘s teams has had a Featured Skater at least once, but only three of KCRW‘s four teams have been represented thus far because their fourth game is still a couple of weeks away. Since the Featured Rollers Warriors so far have been a Susan, a Vixen, and a Dorothy, you can safely assume that a deserving Knockout will be next in line.
Once all teams have been represented, no more consideration will be given to team affiliation, except that we probably won’t repeat teams two months in a row. But even that’s not set in stone.
Featured skaters won’t be chosen based on performance, points scored, or other stats. We started off with a few of the more high-profile ladies to get the ball rolling, but from this point forward, no further consideration will be given to a player’s veteran or rookie status.
In other words…
If you’re active and eligible to skate in a league with a full-season home schedule, you may as well accept the possibility that you could be the next Featured Skater on KC Derby Digest. That’s really the long and short of it.
We will contact our intended Feature Skater no later than Thursday prior to Game Day. We will usually contact her via Facebook, and that’s simply because Facebook is a popular, hopefully non-intrusive way of getting in touch with someone we’ve likely never met before.
If the player agrees to be featured on KC Derby Digest — fortunately, no one has declined so far — we will send her the same short list of standard questions we ask all our Featured Skaters. Ideally, she’ll respond with her answers no later than that Sunday. We will try and catch up with her before the bouts begin that Saturday or Sunday night (whichever applies) to say hello and get a few new photos for the feature.
We’ll also make a point to get a few extra photos of her during her bout, and then we’ll post the feature first thing Monday morning… even if her “featured month” is over by then, like it was with Buffy in June.
If you know of a particularly awesome skater deserving of our monthly feature on KC Derby Digest, we’d love to hear from you! E-mail KC Carr at kcderbydigest [at] gmail.com and let us know why you think your favorite lady on eight wheels should be featured next. We take all feedback seriously, but please limit your suggestion to one skater for these purposes.
Our featured Roller Warrior for the month of June is Buffy Slammers!
Name: Buffy Slammers Team: The Dreadnought Dorothys Number: 21 Position(s): Blocker, occasional Jammer
How she discovered KCRW: My best friend came up to me one day and said we should look into playing derby. I was like, “Are you crazy? Who plays roller derby?” She begged me for years to at least look into it. Finally, I did. Been hooked ever since then.
Origin of her derby name: My favorite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her name in the show is Buffy Summers. I thought Buffy Slammers sounded pretty bad-ass.
Favorite derby moment: There are too many to decide. I just love derby so much, and I love seeing the different strategies and skill levels of the teams across the country. I feel like every bout I watch is awesome.
Favorite skater: Kelley Young. It’s kind of embarrassing, but every time I think something is too hard, I ask myself, would Kelley Young stop here?
Derby philosophy: Derby is one of the best things that has happened to me. It has made me a stronger, more determined person. I used to be the type of person who would give up as soon as things got hard. I’d tell people that I pushed my hardest, even if I didn’t. But derby has taught me to push through anything, physically or mentally. I just tell myself, just one more lap. Once I hit that lap, OK, one more! Just keep going. It’s worth the pain and sweat and I’ve never been more proud of anything I’ve accomplished in my entire life.
How she discovered Dead Girl Derby: When I started in derby, I played for the Springfield Roller Girls, and one of the skaters, Rusty Razorskates, practiced with DGD when she was in Kansas City. I knew I would eventually move to KC and when I did, I wanted to play with DGD; I liked the craziness of the then-OSDA and now MADE rules. I moved to KC in August 2010, and started with Dead Girl in October.
Origin of her derby name: In Springfield, I started as Heddy Hither, but at my first bout, the announcer introduced me as Heidi Hitler. I liked it, so I kept it. Here, however, DGD already had a High D, so I needed to change it. A friend suggested Roxy and I added Lawless, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Favorite derby moment: I have three favorite derby moments. The first is the night I met my husband at one of DGD’s infamous post-wedding bridal showers/bachelorette parties. He played for the Cowtown Butchers and hung around the derby scene, and it was just fate for us to meet that particular night. The second is when my mom and aunt came to watch me play in July 2011. My family lives eight hours away and I only get to see them one or two times a year. This was the first time they got to see me play derby, and coincidentally, it was the last game I played until this June. The next week, the doctor confirmed a little bundle of joy would be gracing our presence the following March. My third favorite moment is the day my husband and I got to meet our little future derby girl, Lexi Lawless-Floor Play. (And I expect her to play derby since she was on skates and hitting before she was even born.)
Favorite skater: My favorite skater is Pippi Strongblocking. Pippi is an all-around amazing skater and such a great leader, mentor, and teacher. I have learned so much from her in the past two years. Dir-T Diana also ranks up in my book pretty high; she is always in a good mood, no matter how she feels or how little sleep she’s had. Plus, Dir-T makes skating look effortless. Lastly, I want to mention my derby wife, Sha’Ter’ra Thunder. She was out for a couple of months last year with a broken ankle and missed the first draft. When she came back, it was with a vengeance. It’s her determination I’m channeling this year and I’m pretty excited to play against her next month!
Derby philosophy: Ya just gotta keep on rollin’! Nearly all week, I’m a wife, a mother, a boss, and an employee, but when I’m at derby, I get to be ME. I’ve heard rumors there was a bet whether or not I would come back (so I hope someone won something!), but in my mind, there was never any doubt I would be skating again. I live 30+ miles away, I can really only make one night a week, unless I tote Lexi with me, and the hits get a little harder the older I get, but derby is a part of me. I’m so thankful for a husband who is supportive of me ad understands that I need derby in order to stay sane and be nice person.
All that's fit to digest from the world of Kansas City roller derby!