Although she will tell you that her name fits her perfectly, most of us know her as a mild mannered, persistent jammer/blocker with an easy smile and a warm personality. That is, she says, until her coffee isn’t quite right, or something else gets in her way. And then the hissy fits commence.
We sat down with Sissy a little while ago to find out how it all began and where she thinks we’ll be heading next.
How did QCRG get started?
I was home one day when my friend Flo called me. She said I needed to turn on my TV right then and to A&E because there was this show called Roller Girls. She knew I would love it. And I did. It was amazing. I thought we need to do this in Buffalo.
Right afterwards I started researching roller derby on the internet and how to play roller derby and how to form a league.
That was it. In April, 2006, we started going to open skate sessions and putting up flyers looking for women who were interested in joining a roller derby league. At first we didn’t have a lot of interest, but after a while, we had 20 women and that was enough for the rink to give us private practice time. By the time we had our first bout, called: Slugs & Kisses, we had 40 skaters. That bout was on February 10, 2007. We had divided into the three original teams: Suicidal Saucies, Nickel City Knockouts and Devil Dollies before Slugs & Kisses, but skated as two teams in that bout.
Do you have any previous athletic experience?
I was a gymnast for a while when I was younger. Eventually I was told I was too tall to succeed. I assisted in some classes and thought I might become a teacher, but once I was told I was too tall, I didn’t continue it. Roller derby was my first team sport experience.
How do you think being on a team has impacted your life?
It has made a tremendous impact on my life, right from the start. Shortly after we started skating my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She passed away a few months after our first bout and the girls on my team and in the league were very supportive to me during that time. Skating gave me something to focus my energy and time on and it helped me get through the worst of the grief. Being on a team is an amazing experience. But it’s not just about my team; it’s about all of the skaters, refs, NSOs and volunteers — the entire league — working together to make QCRG better and better every year.
How have things changed in roller derby from when you began skating?
The game has changed a great deal. There are so many more strategies that are used now which make the game much harder. Before, the focus was on hitting and when you are hitting all the time it’s hard to maintain walls or run the strategies that teams run now. I found jamming much easier when we first started than I do now. These days I prefer to block.
What’s your pre-bout routine?
I sleep in as late as I can in the morning. And then I take a nap. I hydrate a lot, have some spaghetti at an early dinner, and just hang out at home and relax and get mentally ready for the game.
How did you get your name?
Like a lot of women, I struggled trying to find the right name. Originally I wanted to be “Pretty Trashy” but my mother hated that name and told me I couldn’t use it. My friend Flo and I were as close as sisters and she used to call me “Sissy.” Combine that with my temper and penchant for throwing hissy fits and it seemed a natural fit. Flo came up with Sissy Fit and it stuck.
Are you particular about your equipment?
Not really. I used the same skates for four years. I’m partial to Riedell, only because I’ve had the most success with them. I finally bought new ones last year. My daughter Veggy Cowgirl skates on my old skates now so they have come full circle.
When did you decide that you wanted to start a junior derby league?
I wanted to start junior derby right away when we first started playing. I wanted my girls and other girls to be able to feel as empowered by roller derby as I did. But first we needed to get our league going and get some sort of structure to it. That took a few years. After we had the structure, we worked very hard to become a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) league. Once that was settled, I knew it was time for junior derby.
Why do you feel junior derby is so important?
The reason junior derby is so important is because there aren’t many sports for girls that are full contact. More girls need to realize how strong and powerful they really are and roller derby helps facilitate that. Seeing that they can participate in a full contact sport relying only on the strength and agility of their bodies is truly empowering. From that comes a love for yourself and more confidence in all aspects of life.
I think girls who are empowered and confident are less likely to get attacked in life, generally. Men look for weakness and for girls that they know won’t scream and fight. I think exposing girls to sports definitely protects them in life. Who wants to mess with a confident and strong girl?
For my girls, it has definitely raised their confidence level. They leave practice feeling so good about themselves and what they’ve accomplished. It’s also great seeing them want to push themselves physically to improve their game.
So what’s the future for QCRG?
I think that hosting the North Central Regionals next fall is going to really put us on the map. And it will hopefully open up more opportunities to host other tournaments in this area as well. Imagine us hosting the next World Cup. It could happen.
I’d love to see the Furies to continue to gain ranking and become one of the top contending teams in WFTDA and having Junior Derby will only help facilitate that goal. We’re training the future QCRG All-Stars and our level of athleticism will only continue to improve and evolve as the sport will require.