Photo (c) 2013 by Millyard Studios
Rookie Year: 2008
ManchVegas Roller Girls 2008-2009
Skate Free or Die All Stars 2009-2013
Queen City Cherry Bombs 2012
Granite State Troopers 2010
Nightmares on Elm Street 2011-2013
How did you first become involved in roller derby?
Well, I moved from Chicago to Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2008 for AmeriCorps. I was 20 years old and they put me up in an apartment above a bar. (Thanks guys.) One night I was heading in and some girls who had been flyering at the bar skated over and asked me if I wanted to play. I had never skated before so I was a little reluctant. I didn’t have any friends in NH and I was missing all of the sports I played back home so I went to watch a practice anyways. It was love at first sight. I think it was about 2 months after putting skates on for the first time when I played in my first bout. I was hooked and worked my ass off to learn. I played with MVRG for a season but really needed something more competitive. So, I transferred to New Hampshire Roller Derby in 2009. I am now heading into my 6th season and each season I get more and more excited to be fortunate enough to play this sport with this group of amazing women.
You’ve been around in the derby world for a hot minute. How have you personally witnessed the game of roller derby and New Hampshire Roller Derby as a league evolves over the years?
It’s so different from when I started. The game has changed so much in the short time since its revival. The style of play, the skating styles, the strategy, the rules (remember scrum starts? And the pivot line?!), the uniforms, the names, the tournaments, the World Cup, even the skates … everything has evolved. The WFTDA continues to gauge the direction of the game from all the member leagues, so it’s great that we all get a say in the way we want to play. The game is now one of finesse and athleticism. It’s amazing and really wonderful to have been able to see roller derby grow into what it is now.
Photo (c) 2013 by Nicholas Charest
NHRD as a whole has changed completely. When I first started there was only one team, SFOD. Throughout the years we added two home teams, and then a third a year later. We added a second travel team and are still in the first year of our recreational team. We now total six teams and became a full WFTDA league in 2010 and a Class A WFTDA league this past April. We have added committees, team tryouts, fresh meat season and so much more. We have written countless policies, procedures and processes to cushion the growth of people and progression. NHRD seems to be rolling with the times and each season just keeps getting better and better. I really can’t wait to see what we’re going to do in 2014.
You injured yourself back in 2011. Can you explain what happened, your recovery process and what made you strap on skates again?
Oh man that sucked. We were gearing up for the 2011 season. We were scrimmaging the Nuts [The Nutcrackers, one of Boston Derby Dames' home teams] at Shriner’s and there was a pile up in front of me. I tried to jump it but someone tried to stand up and caught my leg. So, I ended up landing directly on my left knee and just instantly couldn’t move. I went to the doctor’s and they couldn’t find anything wrong. I did physical therapy, cortisone shots, so many X-rays, it was so weird. I kept trying to come back and just kept hurting myself even more and ended up being out for the entire year. I just couldn’t stay away as long as I needed to.
There was no question that I was going to come back; derby is just a part of me now. When I came back though, I could barely even skate anymore. That riding a bike analogy is crap. Skating is hard; a bike would have been much easier. I came back right before 2012 tryouts and didn’t make either travel team which really put things into perspective for me. I was hesitating, not being aggressive, boo hoo, poor me. I decided that I was going to work crazy hard to get back to the point where I had been because the only thing stopping me was myself. My teammates were doing really amazing things together and I wanted to be back with them. I got tons of support from everyone and that really helped. Special shout out to Vicious, Killa, Pam, and everyone else who took the time to hit the negative out of me and really remind me that I could do it. I don’t know if I could have gathered up that kind of motivation without you guys.
That season I got to play with the Queen City Cherry Bombs for a few bouts and it was awesome! Them letting me play let me get my confidence back and gave me the opportunity to learn some new skills. That season I learned how to transition, skate backwards, hockey stop, and turning toe stop. I was skating non-stop and earned back a spot on SFOD in June of that year. That hard work really motivated me to continue on that path. I had accomplished so much in a short amount of time that I just have really tried to always push myself that way. I honestly think that getting injured was one of the best parts of my derby career. I learned a lot about myself and my body and started on a path of positivity that has really helped me become the skater I am today.
Skate Free or Die All-Stars coach Johnny Cash Machine explained to me in an interview about SFOD’s D-1 tourney play in Richmond, Va., in September that you were responsible for saving and winning the game for us. It came down to the last two jams against the very tough ladies of Jacksonville Roller Girls, with their New Jax City Rollers ranked above of NHRD coming into the tournament. Can you talk about that?
Bash and Skate Free or Die celebrate their victory over Jacksonville at D-1 playoffs. Photo (c) Jennifer M. Ramos.
When I read that I was honestly like “What? What did I do?” While that is such an honor, I really find it impossible to take that kind of credit. That was the biggest game in the history of our league. We wanted that win so bad and we worked so hard for months and months because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. That goofy picture that they posted on DNN after we won was just sheer happiness from our entire team. SFOD’s mantra is “Hustle, Hit, Never Quit … TOGETHER” and we work so hard to embody that. We work as one on the track and that, more than anything, has gotten us where we are today. We earned it.
In all honesty, I was just 1/14 part of that win. More so if you add in the rest of my teammates and coaches. Cash was talking about the two cuts that I pulled on their jammers in the last 5 minutes of the game. Really though, it wasn’t just me at all. If our jammer hadn’t pushed their wall up and gotten lead or if my wall hadn’t held their jammer to set me up for that hit, it just wouldn’t have happened. We all added bits to that bout that led us to that win and we did it together. Roller derby, 100% of the time, is won by teams who work together.
Do you have any personal goals for the upcoming 2014 season (which promises to be an exciting one for NHRD!)?
Oh my god, so many. I hate watching myself skate. I am so overly critical of myself that when I watch bouts I end up asking myself how they let me play. I yell at myself on the screen, it’s the worst. But at the end of the day I have to remind myself that this sport ain’t easy. I try to make a list of as many positive things I did right as well as things I have to work on. My goals for my team in 2014 would be: tight walls, hustle, and communication. I would also like us to earn a bid back to D-1 and come out a higher rank than we did in 2013. Goals for myself; backwards skating, offense, off-skates, mental toughness, positivity, plus 1,000 more things I can think of working on. Derby is always evolving so as a skater you have to always be evolving too. Always trying to grow and improve!
Is there anyone on NHRD or in derby internationally you admire and consider an inspiration?
Oh wow, that’s truly a difficult question. There are so many amazing people that I have met over the years from all over the world that just makes me consider anyone involved in the sport an inspiration. One thing that I’ve learned is each person who plays this game has a different story and a different reason for being involved in this community. You have people who have never played a sport, people who’ve played every sport, you have all sorts of athletes, artistic skaters, teams who rise up, teams who hold their ranks, hockey players, injuries, all the volunteers … but somehow we all find the same strength in the game, in each other, and in ourselves to push on and become the best that we can be. It’s crazy inspiring when you really think about all the skaters out there busting their asses doing what they love.
I definitely get inspired each time we bout. We learn things from each and every team that we play. My home team, The Nightmares on Elm Street has always historically been a small team; we won bouts this season playing with 8 girls. That team is crazy together and the attitude of NES inspires me big time. I’ve been so lucky to have played 3 amazing seasons with them. On top of all that, every group of fresh meat that I’ve trained, every new teammate that I’ve had, every playoff, every championship that I’ve seen, it’s all just pure motivation.
Bash and Pammy. Photo (c) 2013 by Millyard Studios.
So you and Pammy Decker – another impressive SFOD skater – are engaged, yay! This isn’t the first time derby has brought people together (our ref 2 Pack Shocker and Cherry Bomb Pixie Bruiser were engaged at the end of our July bout this year!). Can you spill the beans on this new development?
Ahh, yes! She put a ring on it!! I proposed to Pam in October and then she recently proposed back in November. We’re super happy! Pam and I met through mutual friends in the derby world a while back when she was skating for Boston and I was skating for New Hampshire. She really is amazing. That girl is one of the only people who can get me to focus, be super supportive, and kick my ass into gear all at the same time. It’s SO cheesy but…she really does make me better.
As far as derby, we also happen to be on the same line so we literally skate together all the time. We work really well together; I mean, our whole line just has ESP with each other, but she sets ‘em up and I knock ‘em down. Our only “downfall” is that we’re both very strategy minded. Literally the only thing in life that we “argue” (as Bam would say) is strategy on the track. I think it’s healthy to talk about that stuff though maybe not always mid-jam. I also think being teammates on the track has really helped our relationship off the track. We are so lucky that we don’t get sick of each other; I mean I want to spend all my free time with her and now we can travel together effortlessly sharing one suitcase.
In all seriousness though, I am really fortunate that I get to share the thing that I love the most with the person that I love the most. Who knows how long we’ll play together but some of our best memories together have been shared with our team. I love that.
-Interview by Medusa’s Might
Bash is in charge of Skate Free or Die’s fundraising, and you can support the team two ways this December: Join SFOD for their Second Annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, December 7 in Manchester (details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/418476934920826/) or purchase a limited edition SFOD t-shirt (https://www.booster.com/sfod2014travelfund?share=861384717604619%3Fshare%3D861384717604619). SFOD has been invited to play teams all over the world (literally: Germany!), and you can help support them as they prepare to dominate in 2014!