Between Jams: Roe DeLeon

FOLLOW: Editorial, Health

If you’ve ever seen roller derby at the top flight, you’ve probably seen Roe DeLeon at work. As a certified athletic trainer, Roe has been an invaluable asset to both Team USA Roller Derby, and her hometown derby league, the Windy City Rollers, whom she joined in 2007.

Originally from the Philippines, Roe recently moved to Florida after spending most of her life in Chicago. Moving stateside in 1981 at age 9, Roe quickly developed a love for sports.

As a trainer, she has worked with athletes of every stripe, from football players and wrestlers to competitive cheerleaders, runners, tennis players, and the Nike Pro Basketball Summer league. But roller derby holds a special place in Roe’s heart.

(Roe, center, pictured with Judy “Mama Vendetta” Ramsay and Jim “Papa Doc” Ramsay.)

There’s a lot that I love about roller derby. One thing I love most is the competitiveness women demonstrate, playing with each other and against other teams. You can see how much involvement they give, their love for the game. I compare this (and its intensity) to football.

The first time I had ever seen roller derby I was like, “where do I sign up”? I wanted to know how could I work with the Windy City Rollers. I wanted to know how be part of the team and how could I be more involved. And a couple of months after that I was asked.

Getting involved with a team on a professional and a personal level is like is challenging. Back in 2007, skaters were different. Many didn’t work out outside of roller derby. And, for example, there was no focus on biomechanics, how to care for aches and pains versus injuries, and most didn’t even know what an athletic trainer was, or our capabilities. Now, as the league’s Certified Athletic Trainer — I’m like part of their equipment. I’m there for their injuries, encouragement, help coach with their skills, and among other things.

There’s nothing more satisfying than to watch skaters be able to accomplish what they do best and being able to help them get there.The gratitude skaters that I have worked with give me —there’s no words to describe it. In addition to being a trainer, I also had the honor to coach a C-team last year and we had so much fun. Seeing them dig within themselves to play their hardest, using the skills they learned, is phenomenal.

No matter where I live, Chicago is my home and always will be. It is the place I grew up and where my family and friends live. The Windy City Rollers, too, will always be part of me. It’s where I started and became part of a team that grew in front of me. There is a bond of more than friendship between the team and the medical staff that extends more than helping them with their injuries.

One time during practice Mama Doc and I decided to surprise the team by dressing up in derby gear to join them. I actually put on the whole gear and skated with the team for a few minutes before going back to work. Everyone was astonished and we just had a great time.

I’ve worked with so many great skaters. Of course, I don’t have one favorite, but they all have their own characteristics that make them great. Old Drrrty GoGo (former Windy City All-Stars captain) —her intensity that she gave while playing, the fire she has is remarkable and can put fear on a team.  Yvette Yourmaker —don’t be fooled by her size because she is one hard hitting skater and never gives up. Varla Vendetta— she is a great jammer and team player, and got better every season. Jackie Daniels — an excellent double threat. I admire her determination, and she knows roller derby like the back of her hand. There’s so many more, I could keep going…

Going to Europe for roller derby was a great experience professionally and personally. We got to play internationally as a part of Anarchy III (hosted by the London Rollergirls) and hold a boot camp. Being there with the team, you tend to get closer and learn each others’ personality.  After London, Ska Face, Sargentina, GoGo, Jackie Daniels and I went to Paris. We went shopping, touring, dancing, and got closer to each another. What had a fabulous time.

It was an honor to be part of Team USA and go to World Cup. The team was comprised of great athletes in the country of roller derby skaters and it was a thrill to be there when they needed me. The coaches were great and the team is amazing.

One of the best World Cup experiences was the opening ceremony. During the tournament, teams were singing their home country’s song, some were dancing, there was limbo, and lots of cheering. It was intense.

The most fun thing about the whole experience of roller derby has been meeting people that became part of your life and memories that becomes a treasure. It’s priceless.

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