“Training With A Champion”

I recently got the great opportunity to skate with the Oly Rollers and aid their training at practices leading up to the September 26-28th USARS Nationals in Stockton, CA., but let me regress, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain who I am.  I skate under the name MJ, and have been skating roller derby for 2yrs; my background is in ice hockey where I have 20yrs of skating experience.  I have decent skating skills, and my butt is huge - literally. I’m 6’2” and about 280lbs. I tower over all of the Oly Roller girls and it's been said “I’m extremely terrifying”.

Of course you wouldn’t know it from the way they body blocked, and trapped me during practice.  Terrifying is the sight of me trying not to trip over myself from the excitement of playing with the Oly Rollers and their great trapping skills.  I was surprised at how inviting and cordial they were.  Truly, what I expected to happen was to be turned away; maybe they had closed practices. I have skated with other leagues where I was not allowed to skate on the track, I was only allowed to skate around the outside, and never able to participate in drills at practice like Oly had included me.  “Honestly most of us would prefer to practice with guys,” explains Tannibal Lector.  “There is less drama, just hard practicing.”   

I was instructed to jam or pivot because they needed someone big to crash down on their walls and give their players the practice holding back someone of my size.  They are getting ready to defend their USARS National title, so like a deer in the headlights, I accepted the challenge and proceeded to skate with the Oly Rollers; purely magical was the feeling of rolling on the floor with these talented skaters.  The speed and control of their skating skills and the design of their practice time was reminiscent of top college hockey teams.  Playing with Oly really showed me more than I had seen from roller derby in the past, making me fall deeper in love with this cruel mistress of a sport.

So, playoffs are here and some of you will be watching the upcoming WFTDA bouts in Salt Lake City, UT on Sept. 26th.  Cheering and experiencing the competitive D1 roller derby teams like B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls, Wasatch Roller Derby, Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, and many others.  However the fiercest competition not on that list: the dreaded Oly Rollers, won’t be there. Not because they weren’t good enough to qualify, they chose to compete as a team and not exclude one or two players because of their age from a national championship appearance.

“At the beginning of this year, as a team we chose to compete under the USARS rules set for Championships,” explained Captain Tannibal Lector.  “We are a small league with few skaters, we were hoping to play both, but because of the dates, we chose not to exclude our under 18 skaters from Nationals.”  The USARS rule set allows a skilled younger player with permission from their parents to play with adults. 

Competition will be fierce at Championships no matter which team you cheer for.  Good luck to every team that is participating in National Tournaments and enjoy the experiences, they will last a lifetime!   

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Name: MJ -

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