Featured Skater: Ubebee #718

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

Ooooo baby!  This blocker will leave many jammers quaking in fear when going up against her on the track.  Meet #718, Ubebee!

Ube started her derby journey in February 2017 where she joined Queen City’s boot camp and was drafted to the Alley Kats the following October.  She was then drafted to the Subzero Sirens December of the same year.  Ube is another one of our skaters who has skated on every home team and travel team.  She currently skates for the Lake Effect Furies and Devil Dollies and is part of the coaching staff for the Dollies and our Boot Camp program.  Outside of QCRD, she skates with Team Philippines.  One important lesson Ube has learned from roller derby is that derby more so than anything else has taught her to not be afraid to stand up for yourself, a lesson she has brought to all aspects of her life.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Queens.  I moved to Grand Island in 2014 because I met this guy who was pretty cool and he dragged me here!

What is your day job?

I’m a first grade teacher at a charter school.

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

How did you get involved in derby?

I had just graduated from grad school and I was pretty desperate to find any sort of sport to get into.  Volleyball had destroyed my body and I couldn’t do that to my body anymore.  I was scrolling through Facebook and I found the Facebook event for boot camp.  At the time I lived in NT and so it was five minutes away (from Rainbow Rink) so there was no reason not to.

What are some of your hobbies outside of derby?

There’s not a whole ton of time for me to have hobbies, if I’m totally honest.  Other than derby, being a mom, and doing my job, there’s not a whole ton of down time.  Watching movies, reading fanfiction as much as I can.  My comfort [fanfiction] reads are probably going to be the MCU, Supernatural, and if I’m feeling really nostalgic, Teen Wolf.

What is the significance of your derby name and number?

My derby name, because people never know how to say it, is Oooo-Baby.  I wanted something vaguely punny, but I also wanted something that was going to be unique to me and something that I would like and would age well.  Ube is a Filipino purple yam.  I’m Filipino, I love to eat ube, and purple is my favorite color.  My number is 718 because that is the area code for the outer boroughs of New York City:  Queens and Brooklyn.

In addition to skating, you coach for Boot Camp and the Devil Dollies.  What has that experience been like?

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

It’s so cool having now gone through the whole process of going through boot camp myself as a new skater, skating for home teams, and now getting to coach. It is really amazing just because I’ve now seen the whole process of it from both sides and now I’m able to share the wealth.  All the things I know I only know because I had great coaches who have told me things and now it’s interesting to hear, “Well, this is the ‘Ube method’” and actually no this is my other coach’s method but thank you for thinking that it’s mine!

Outside of QCRD, you skate for Team Philippines.  Tell me about that experience.

It’s been a long five years now since I’ve last gone to skate with them, and it’s really incredible because even though most of them have only ever seen me one time, it feels like every time we talk to each other online, or every time we’re trying to play with each other again, there’s always that genuine excitement for a family reunion of sorts, “Oh yeah I haven’t seen my cousin in forever but now I get to see them, and I’m so super excited about it.” And just knowing that there are so many strong, knowledgeable, and talented Filipino skaters out there is so inspiring.  More so than even just seeing the amazing people in our own league, being able to realize there’s this whole world of people out there all doing the same thing with all the same passion who are also proud to be Filipino where it’s like “I’ve got to level up and also be there and show up for them too.”  

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

What is your favorite thing about blocking?

Not jamming!  Jamming feels like you’re more there as an individual, whereas with blocking it’s automatically obvious you’re there with three other people and you’re working together for a shared goal.  I like coordinating with people and working together with them.  I cover them, they cover me, and now we’re great!

Who is your favorite skater and why?

Overall, probably the two I study the most are Mange from Montreal and Blackman who now plays for Angel City.  They’re small blockers so they have similar body types to me but they’re also so tenacious and fierce.  They’re really great in the pack working with their team but they’re also amazing individual skaters and they’re able to save the play all of the time.  That’s something I want.  I want to be small, fierce, tenacious, and help save the day!  

Do you have any goals for yourself this season?

Photo by Rene T. Van Ee

My big derby goal right now is to make the 2025 World Cup Team for Team Philippines.  That’s the big derby dream!

Do you have any advice for new skaters?

Just show up and try!  Try your hardest, try your best!  Not everything you hear is correct and it might not be correct for you, but listen to it anyway because then maybe you can pass that along to somebody else down the line.

– Interview by Thrash Bandicoot