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.
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!
Our Featured Skater for the month of June is CleoSmashYa of the Shotgun Sheilas!
Name: CleoSmashYa Team(s): Shotgun Sheilas, Public Enemies Number: 1030 Position(s): Jammer, pivot Seasons with FCRD: 2
Q: How did you come to be involved with Fountain City Roller Derby?
“In my early twenties, I used to inline skate on ramps and transition at skate parks. So when one of my ex-coworkers introduced me to roller derby, I knew this was something I had to be a part of. I get to skate and hit people?! Heck yeah!”
Q: Explain the origin of your derby name.
“I’ve always been obsessed with Egypt since I was a tiny girl. I’d read every book I could get my hands on, tried to study hieroglyphics, and wanted to be an archeologist. So fast forward to my early thirties when I did the study on my family’s lineage, and with the help of an ancestry test, I found out I was 12% Moroccan/Egyptian. I was beyond stoked; hence, CleoSmashya was born, based on a powerful Egyptian Queen.”
Q: Roller derby changes every life it touches. How has it changed yours?
“I don’t know where to start… I could go on forever.
Derby has saved me. At a time when I had very little family and no community to fall back on, derby fell into my lap. The universe knew I needed a community to lean on and give back to. I have built friendships that are closer than family. I know that derby has helped me blossom into a strong and powerful woman. I have found my voice, worth, and belonging. The derby community has helped me find out a lot about myself, for which I’m forever grateful.”
Q: What makes CleoSmashYa tick? What keeps you going in this crazy love we call roller derby?
“I think knowing I’m a part of something bigger than myself keeps me going. Knowing my teammates are out there giving their all, and making holes and protecting me, makes me want to go even harder. I don’t want to let them down! I am only as good as we are as a whole.
If I could play and sell roller derby for a living, I’d be fantastic.”
To see more of CleoSmashYa, the Shotgun Sheilas, and all the incredible action Fountain City Roller Derby has to offer throughout the year, join us on Instagram, follow us on Twitter, and check out our photo albums on Smugmug.
This weekend, as the Shotgun Sheilas captured their fifth Fountain City Roller Derby house championship, the legendary Coach Wyatt announced she would be stepping down as head coach of the Black & Grey.
We caught up with Coach Wyatt after Saturday night’s game to get her thoughts on derby retirement, the 2022 season, and coming back from COVID after two years on the sidelines:
“Coming out of COVID, I was worried. I didn’t know what derby looked like after two-plus years away. But the second we had our roster, the hard work began for the Sheilas.
From the vets down to the newbies, everyone bought into the team and trusted each other. Aneeda Hurtcha has always been our rock, our leader, and together, we all built something that I think is pretty special. They fought for, and earned, this championship.
Saying I’m proud of the Sheilas (and to be a Sheila) is an understatement—not just this roster, but all that came before. I’ve been a Sheila a long time, and I give credit to roller derby for much of the life that I have. It’s bittersweet, but I couldn’t have scripted it better, going out on a three-peat.”
There’s really no way to properly and completely thank someone like Coach Wyatt for everything she’s brought to the league, but we can sure try.
Many people these days don’t even realize she was originally a Deadly Siren waaaay back in 2011 before KC Derby Digest was even born. Her derby name was Attorney Outlaw.
The Sirens even faced off against the Lethals for the trophy that year, although the Lethals came out on top.
In the years that followed—beginning in 2012, under Coach Wyatt’s leadership—the Shotgun Sheilas would play in the championship game every single season there was one with no exceptions:
2012 vs. Lovely Lethals (Sheilas win)
2013 vs. Royal Pains (Sheilas lose)
2014 vs. Royal Pains (Sheilas win)
2015 vs. Royal Pains (Sheilas lose)
2016 vs. Lovely Lethals (Sheilas lose)
2017 vs. Royal Pains (Sheilas lose)
2018 vs. Deadly Sirens (Sheilas win)
2019 vs. Deadly Sirens (Sheilas win)
2020 — no champion (COVID)
2021 — no champion (COVID)
2022 vs. Lovely Lethals (Sheilas win)
That’s leadership. That’s dedication. That’s a commitment to excellence you can’t buy.
And that’s who Coach Wyatt is to this league: one of the most beloved and well-respected players and coaches to ever take the track in Kansas City—a go-getter who’s gone and gotten, simple as that.
Taking nothing away from their incredible skaters and assistant coaches, I think we can all agree that the Shotgun Sheilas owe their dynasty in great part to the unmatched talents and relentless pursuit of perfection Coach Wyatt has demonstrated over the last decade.
We will certainly miss her intensity and laser focus trackside, but we look forward to cheering on the Sheilas (and all the Fountain City teams) right next to her in the stands in the coming seasons.
Thank you, Coach.
For absolutely everything.
All that's fit to digest from the world of Kansas City roller derby!