Wheels of Justice is vigorously getting ready for their chance in the Division 1 WFTDA playoffs. Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice are the number 1 seed for the bracket in Charleston West Virginia, taking place October 3-5.
Mike Wade has been charged with coaching the top talent or Rose City Rollers and preparing them for this annual event. Let’s spend a moment and get to know this new coach and see what has been taking place in his preparations.
Photo by Skippy Steve.
Can you give a brief synopsis of your skating experience?
I grew up playing hockey in Cleveland, Ohio, and can say most of my life has been on skates. The weather is rough back home, so for 8 months you are either a bowler or a skater.
I first started skating for the St. Louis Gatekeepers 2010 until I moved to Portland in June 2013. In that time we were ranked #1 twice and never fell below #4. Coming in 2nd place in the MRDA Championships in 2012 losing by 1 point in the final jam.
I currently skate for Portland’s Bridgetown Menace (Ranked #5).
What is your background with coaching WOJ?
I first got into Roller Derby in 2009 watching Burning River Roller Girls in Cleveland, Ohio. Later moving to St. Louis, Missouri, I started refereeing for Arch Rival Roller girls from 2010-2011 and 2013. I spent 2012 as a bench coach for one of their local teams the M-80’s, who won the championship that year. I also started playing for the St. Louis Gatekeepers men’s team from 2010-2013. I have been a student of the game since the first whistle of the first jam I saw.
What do you believe is the greatest strength of Wheels of Justice?
I think the greatest strength of WOJ is the fact that each and every player is playing for the name on the front of their jersey, not the name on the back. We have a unique team here. The mentality of each player is that every thing they do at practice and every achievement reached is for the betterment of the team. They push themselves to be the best skaters and teammates possible each and every practice. This team has never hit a plateau because they are always setting and reaching new goals.
Who are the most improved skaters on the team?
I would like to give a lot of credit to Tess Yinger. She has been an absolute delight to coach. She set a goal early in the season to work her way up from AOA to Wheels and she not only did this, but she was voted MVP for the bout against Rat City.
Photo by Regularman.
Who is the skater that surprised you most?
I would say Loren Mutch has surprised me the most, and still does. She really pushes the envelope every time she is on skates. Its kind of funny, I’ll go over and tell her she did an awesome job at something, and she gives me this look and sighs and says she can do it better. I’ll be honest, sometimes I think to myself “yeah right, not possible” and the very next lap around she somehow does it. You hear a lot of the Bonnie Thunders in the roller derby world, put money on this, the derby universe is all going to know Loren Mutch by the end of playoffs.
Do you have a game plan that you work from jam-to jam, or is it really per sequence of jams?
Our game plan is pretty consistent the whole game. Our blockers know our jammers, know what they like, what works for them and where they have some difficulties and we all work together to put everyone in the best situation. We work hard to understand all types of scenarios that might present themselves at any given time so we can quickly react. We go out to win every jam, so you can say we work jam to jam.
Do you spend time scouting other teams and skaters that you will face in playoffs?
This could honestly be considered a second full time job for everyone on this team. The more you know about a team and the tendencies of their players the better.
Are there any opponent skaters or teams that you expect to challenge WOJ?
I fully expect the road to winning the Hydra to be difficult. All the teams we will be matched up against have been putting in long hours, sacrificing time with friends and family and pushing themselves just as hard as we have, so we expect each and every team to be giving us their all. We expect to give everything we have too. You can’t just show up, you have to perform.
What do you contribute most to WOJ?
What I hope I have contributed is confidence in each and every player and I hope they know I believe in each and every one of them as we go into playoffs.
Photo by Skippy Steve.
What has been the most rewarding part of coaching WOJ?
The most rewarding part of coaching WOJ, is simply that I get to be a part of something absolutely amazing. I get a front row seat to watch these amazing athletes surpass goals, triumph over challenges and take the track and leave the track as a team.
What has been the most challenging part of coaching WOJ?
I think the most challenging part of coaching WOJ is continuing to find new challenges and goals for the team. Sometimes I think we might need to spend an entire 2 hour practice on something, and they have it down in 20 minutes.
WRITTEN BY TYSON LEGGATE