Featured Skater: Cooper #934

Photo by Rene T. van Ee

This month’s featured skater wears many hats in our league.  Between jamming for the Lake Effect Furies, Niagara Roller Derby, and Team Ontario, coaching the Saucies, and reffing in her spare time, this skater still finds time to read, play D&D, and do Crossfit!  Meet #934, Cooper!

Cooper has quite the derby resumé!  She first began her derby journey in 2010 where a Facebook post led her joining a roller derby team that would become the Timmins Gold Miners’ Daughters, where she skated her first game in 2011.  Since then, she has trekked all around Ontario playing with teams such as Northern Ontario’s Wild Cards (now known as the NORDStarz) and Orangeville’s Misfit Militia.  Cooper eventually landed in Niagara Falls, ON where she started skating for the Furies in 2019.  Cooper is an incredible asset to QCRD and we’re lucky to have her!

Where are you from?

I hail from the maple loving and poutine eating country of Canada! I was born in balmy Abbotsford, British Columbia. I have bounced around BC, Alberta, and all across Ontario. 

Photo by Brie Eloise

What is your day job?

I am an optician! I spend my day selling and adjusting glasses and fitting contact lenses. 

How did you get involved in derby?

After college, I found my friendship circle small. I wanted to find a group of friends that prioritized physical activity but were also a bit dorky. I saw a Facebook recruitment post when I lived in Timmins about a roller derby league. I knew instantly I was meant for this. I figure skated for many years but knew I didn’t fit into that scene. I figured folks who played roller derby were like me – and I was right! My first game was in 2011 and I have never looked back.

What are some of your hobbies outside of derby?

I love training in Crossfit. I found that specific type of fitness crosses over into roller derby perfectly. It also feeds into my competitive nature. In the pandemic, I discovered Dungeons and Dragons! As a former theatre kid, this was right up my alley. I am also a big book reader and cross stitcher. 

What is the significance of your derby name and number?

My original roller derby name is Misery Business. When I joined my first team, I had a deadline to submit a name and I didn’t have any idea what to do. I started scrolling through some music to get inspiration and Misery Business by Paramore stood right out. I skated under Misery Business for 10 years. After 10 years, I wanted to be recognized as just me so I decided to play under my actual last name of Cooper. But I still love when friends and teammates address me as Mis or Mis Bis. As for my number, 934 is a play on a certain magical train platform.

Photo by Joe Mac

This season, you decided to take on a new role as one of the coaches for the Saucies.  What has that experience been like?

It has been a roller coaster to say the least! There are many aspects I love about coaching roller derby: making practices, witnessing progression of skaters, supporting skaters on game days, etc. I feel lucky to have two amazing co-coaches to work with (Sin and Cheryl). We each have our own strengths that work well together. I was surprised at how much more admin/non-skating tasks were involved in coaching a home team, but the Spicy Sauce Squad of skaters makes it all worth it.

You play for so many teams!  How to find the right derby/work/life balance?

Balance is hard. I often find myself eating in my car, sending emails on lunch, waking up early or going to bed late to watch game footage. But what helps me the most is trying to stick to a routine and have a planner. I don’t know how I would manage without my many calendars to remind me of tasks and events. 

Photo by Darren Stehr

What is your favorite thing about jamming?

I find jammers get to “skate” the most on the track. I love the feeling of the open track, hitting crossovers and zoning in on my role. I also find jamming way less mentally taxing compared to blocking.

What is your favorite thing about being a referee?

I guess I should just say I love everything about roller derby so jumping into being a referee was a natural progression for me. I want to be a better roller derby player, and what better way than being an official that gets to enforce the rules! In my opinion, being a referee is by far the most challenging role in roller derby. I implore all skaters to try being a referee. 

Who is your favorite skater and why?

There are a few skaters that helped me become the athlete that I am today. First, Nasty Nads (derby wifey!) from the Gold Miners’ Daughters in Timmins taught me the fundamentals of roller skating and difficult skills. Renny Rumble and Nancy Noir (aka Errka) from Misfit Militia in Orangeville taught me resilience and determination on and off the track. As for roller derby superstars, I loved watching Lexi Lightspeed jam – I feel we have similar styles. And of course Laci Knight. I love her aggressive style of play and relentless tenacity. 

Photo by John Blood

Do you have any goals for yourself this season?

I want 2023 to be the year that I bring as much as I can to roller derby. This is my first season back with QCRD since the pandemic and I want to be a big part of rebuilding this sport in the Buffalo and Niagara region. I have been trying to be very active in leadership positions, specifically coaching. Another goal I had early on this year was the development of Team Ontario. With the help of some fellow Ontario roller derby skaters, we successfully created a competitive team with skaters from around the province. There are several of us that skate for QCRD that are on Team Ontario!

Photo by Rene T. van Ee

Do you have any advice for new skaters?

For skaters specifically – repetitions. Rep out skills and drills until you are bored and sick of doing them. Then do it again the next day. Muscle memory allows you to focus on the chaos during the game. Advice for everyone looking into roller derby – this sport is for you in whatever way you want it to be. Roller derby can bring you joy and community even if you never put on a pair of roller skates.

–  Interview by Thrash Bandicoot