Featured Skater: Kiss of Death #999

Photo by Brie Eloise

This month’s featured skater is a seasoned jammer who will kiss other blockers goodbye if you get in her way on the track. Meet #999, Kiss of Death!

Kiss joined QCRD’s boot camp in 2017, rising through the ranks in Queen’s Court and getting drafted to the Devil Dollies for the 2019 season and has been on the Dollies ever since (with a brief stint on the Rust Belt Riots in our shortened 2022 season). This ESL teacher and folk music lover is all about getting active in addition to breaking down the walls of opposing blockers!

Where are you from?
I’m from Syracuse. I was born and raised there, and then I moved to Buffalo about ten years ago. I did a summer internship here and fell in love!

What is your day job?
I teach English as a Second Language.

How did you get involved in derby?
One gloomy spring day I was thinking I really want to get involved in another sport or athletics, so I went on YouTube and searched “Women’s Sports Highlight Clips” and there was a lot of soccer which I thought was cool. Then derby popped up and I was like, What is this sport? I need to do this! Then I Googled it and Queen City popped up.

What are some of your hobbies outside of derby?
I really like being active, so I like walking or riding my bike. I play on a kickball team for fun. Sometimes my family plays pickleball when the weather is nice. It’s so fun and it’s more accessible than tennis because the court is smaller. I like music, listening to live music, and I also play guitar and enjoy playing music.

Photo by CK Photographic Systems

Has being an educator helped you in derby at all?
I think so! I think it has me practicing what I preach a lot of the time: Don’t give up, failure is part of the process, having a growth mindset. Every practice you know you end up failing in some way, but you can’t get discouraged because it’s part of learning and becoming better. Also not comparing yourself to other people, just celebrating the “Hey I didn’t know this and now I do know it.”

What is the significance of your derby name and number?
I was thinking of names and I thought of Kiss of Death because it ties into my actual last name and my students call me Miss Kiss. I wasn’t sure of it, and then Thrash Bandicoot was like “Hey, what about Kiss of Death?” and I was like “Okay, that sounds good.” I just picked my number because it sounded cool.

Photo by Rene T. van Ee

What is your favorite thing about jamming?
When it’s over…just kidding! But for real I like the challenge of it, how you kind of have to anticipate what’s going to happen and be aware of what is happening on the track and just going for it.

Who is your favorite skater and why?
This is hard because I love everyone. Everyone is so good! Tabrina is probably my favorite. I just think she not only is technically and physically good, she also has a really strong mental game and she’s all about playing smarter and not harder, but also playing really hard! She’s really great to skate with. I love watching Freight Train jam because just like her name, she’s like a train coming down the track. It’s also her positive attitude off of the track, I know she’s always coaching or encouraging and is so cute with her step classes and jam skate classes.

Do you have any goals for yourself this season?
I do! Typically as a jammer, I tend to rely on two strategies in my toolbox: pushing the wall and changing my speed, but I’m really trying to focus more on incorporating other strategies like juking and footwork.

Do you have any advice for new skaters?
Go at your own pace, it’s not a race. Be as kind to yourself as you would any of your teammates. I think we’re often our own harshest critics, but you’re trying this new thing and going out of your comfort zone and that’s already something to be proud of.

– Interview by Thrash Bandicoot