Category Archives: Interviews

Featured Skater — March 2023

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!

Featured Skater — February 2023

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!

Featured Skater — June 2022

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.”

She’s actually on her way back UP in this shot, not on her way down.

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.

Thank You, Coach Wyatt

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.”

Coach Wyatt

A Thank-You

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.

We were there, we just weren’t taking pictures in those days.

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.

Featured Dead Girl – September 2014

Our Featured Dead Girl for September is
Fire Wyer of the Untouchables!

Name: Fire Wyer
Teams: Untouchables, Fountain City Travel Team, MADE in USA
Number: 88
Position(s): Bump, Jammer, Pivot
Seasons with Dead Girl Derby: 4

How did you discover Dead Girl Derby?
“Honestly, I was debating on KCRW for years and would never get the courage to just do it. I grew up skating and my dad was a huge part of my skating days and he wanted me to do derby. He passed away 10-3-10, and about a week later I found out about DGD and thought, “what the heck, I guess I will go watch a practice.” I felt like it was home the first night and felt like my dad has led me there!”

Explain the origin of your derby name.
“This was probably the hardest thing about derby. I spent many nights trying to figure this out. I knew I was getting married and I really wanted to use my maiden name in my derby name (Wyer). I threw around Barb Wyer, Live Wyer, Wyer Hang-her, and they were all taken on the register. Colin Mayhem (former DGD announcer) said, “Hey you should be Fire Wyer.” Well, it stuck! So there you have it.. FIRE WYER! 88 has always been my favorite number, and when I raced go-karts it was my number.”

Who inspires you on the track?
“I have so many… I really want to be just like Badonka Boom when I grow up! I also admire Texas Outlaw because I saw her come to recruitment the first night and didn’t have a clue how to stand on skates (love you), and within the same season she was jamming! Super amazing transformation. Ally Cap-One is another girl that has always tried to keep me in line. As a teammate, she would always be there to make sure I was keeping my cool and bring me down to earth if I would happen to travel away, and now as a coach, she is there once again to keep me skating a straight line!”

How has roller derby changed your life?
“I would have to say derby has really has taught me what teamwork really means. I have met some of the best friends I could have met! Its taught me to allow myself to have me-time, settle down, and take care of myself.”

What is it about roller derby that brings out the best in Fire Wyer?
“It really allows me to be ME. I can just cut loose and be myself. I love to belt out at the top of my lungs and sing whatever song is in my head. I can’t carry a tune and I sound like crap, but I don’t care. It has allowed me to come out of my comfort zone. Before derby, I would have NEVER dressed like this! I get to just do whatever my heart allows me to do. THATS FIRE WYER — be who I want to be.”

To see more of Fire Wyer and all the Dead Girls in action, visit our photo albums on Smugmug, like us on Facebook, and check out our newly-launched Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Featured Dead Girl – August 2014

Our Featured Dead Girl for August is 10acious V!

Name: 10acious V
Teams: The Royal Pains
Number: BAMF
Position(s): Jammer, Pivot, Blocker
Seasons with Dead Girl Derby: 3

How did you discover Dead Girl Derby?
“I really wanted to do roller derby and I found DGD online. I attended their championship games to see what it was all about, and I was hooked. I came to recruitment night and the rest is history.”

Explain the origin of your derby name.
“I got my name from Tenacious D and changed it around to make it more ‘girly.’ I thought it was really funny. I was torn between choosing 10acious V or BAMF as my name, so I was pretty excited when I found out I could use BAMF as my number.”

Who inspires you on the track?
“I am so inspired by my team! They never quit and always give everything they have for our team. They are all so amazing and it is an honor to skate with them. Coach Kentner pushes me to be better and makes me believe I can be better. Coach Arp is the most encouraging coach in the world! He always knows what to say to pump you up and makes you believe in yourself. My husband Chad is my biggest fan and his belief in me pushes me to become the best skater I can be.”

How has roller derby changed your life?
“Roller derby has been amazing for me! It has made me embrace my inner athlete and become a healthier person. Roller derby makes my soul happy and no matter what happens in my day, I know that I can go to practice and skate it out. I also cherish the new friendships that I have found in my derby family.”

What is it about roller derby that brings out the best in 10acious V?
“Playing derby has made me more tenacious than ever. I have learned that no matter how tired you are there is always something more you can give. I love the adrenaline rush of playing and the mental challenges of the game. It makes me feel alive!”

To see more of 10acious V and all the Dead Girls in action, visit our photo albums on Smugmug, like us on Facebook, and check out our newly-launched Pinterest and Instagram pages.