This month’s featured skater is a long-time Queen City veteran. Wrecks Kitten has been a part of the league since 2008. She previously wore red for the Suicidal Saucies, and also spent seven years on the Lake Effect Furies. Wrecks now skates for the travel B-team, the Subzero Sirens. She is a skilled blocker and pivot, and her experience is an important part of the Sirens team unit. Outside of derby, she is a career woman, a mom, and avid craft beer fan. She is a strong, empowered woman, on and off the track.
Where are you originally from?
Hamburg, New York.
What is your day job?
I’m a multimedia graphic designer in a bank’s marketing department.
You are a big fan of craft beer. What kind of beer is your favourite? Do you recommend any local breweries?
Oh yeah. My favorite style is barleywine, which is basically a very strong, dark, rich, malty beer. They are very high in alcohol content so I have to be careful. One glass and you’ve essentially had three or four regular beers. But that taste is just so delicious. Locally, I’m in love with Flying Bison’s Herc and I order it every chance I get. Barleywines aren’t very common, so not many local breweries make them. They’re expensive to make because you need a lot more ingredients to get the same yield, so they’re also expensive to buy. I’m on a personal crusade to make the style more popular so I can get it more easily! Dogfish Head’s Higher Math is incredible, and my all-time favorite is a very rare Cherry Rye Bourbon County Imperial Stout from Goose Island. It’s next to impossible to get. They might not even brew that kind anymore which makes me want to cry… but they do still make others in the Bourbon County series. I’m also a fan of a good IPA though, and Thin Man’s Bliss lives up to that name. The Sabres Edge at Pearl St. is my go-to whenever I’m there.
During your derby career, you had two children. After each, you came back very strong. What was it like going through such a big life change, and then returning to roller derby? Are there any tips you can offer to new roller derby moms?
There was never a doubt in my mind that I’d come back to skating as soon as I could. After seeing teammates (and league mates) come back after having babies, I knew it was not only possible, but almost common. I was determined to come back and get to where I had been before pregnancy as soon as I could. It wasn’t easy, but I have to say it wasn’t as hard as it was when I first started. Thank god! Juggling the time commitment and especially the nursing aspect was tricky, but I was very lucky to have understanding teammates, coaches, and a supportive husband so I could still do what I loved and be a mom too.
I’ve always felt that it’s so important to not lose your sense of identity after becoming a parent… adding children to your life instead of obliterating it. Obviously, my kids and my marriage are top priorities for me, but so is my whole sense of self. As moms, we often fall victim to letting our own lives take a back burner so that we can do everything for our families, which is only beneficial to a certain degree. I want to show my kids that they can do anything they want, that their interests are valid and important and worth pursuing, and how will they truly learn that except by example?
Derby was and still is a great stress reliever: it’s my “me time” so I hold it in very high regard. With a newborn at home, I’d gear up and get on the track. I would forget about blown-out diapers and that I had spit-up on my shirt, or that I hadn’t gotten any sleep. So I guess my advice for new derby moms would be not to forget about how important your own interests are. That you can still be an individual and also a mom. The role of being a mother doesn’t erase yourself, it adds to it. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your schedule especially won’t allow all the same things to the same extent that you used to be able to do, but figure out what you can do to maintain a healthy balance with your family and you’ll make it work.
You have been a part of Queen City Roller Girls since 2008. What has it been like being part of roller derby’s evolution over the years?
Some parts of the game are so different that it’s almost unrecognizable from what the sport was like when I started. Besides the ever-evolving rules, the biggest difference overall, for me, has been the movement towards more of a serious sport in general. It’s much less of an underground, rebellious, grassroots subculture. You still see some of the kitschy stuff, like silly socks, booty shorts and fishnets. But especially on the travel teams, we’ve moved to a more “professional” look. This is in part to be viewed as the athletes we are, and in part as a strategy. You don’t want to be one player that stands out so opponents remember you and can easily pick you out, making you more of a target on the track. We do off skates training as a given now, when before it was kind of like extra credit. What started as a fun and challenging hobby has evolved into a fun and challenging way of life.
You often play as a pivot. What is your favourite thing about this position?
For some reason, grabbing the star from the jammer in the midst of chaos is infinitely preferential to me than starting on the jammer line at the first whistle. I don’t like that kind of pressure. I like being in the middle of the action and being able to see everything around me. I’m much more calm, collected and controlled in that situation. If my jammer’s in trouble and I’m wearing the pivot cover, I’ll do my best to get in a position to help her, either by getting the star or distracting opponents with the possibility of a pass so that she can slip through. Often, I’ll yell to her and tap my helmet as a reminder that I’m here to pass to if needed, because I know sometimes tunnel vision happens, especially in a really tough pack.
What are your biggest strengths on the track?
I love drawbacks. I’m not a big hitter, and I don’t try to be. I try to leverage my small size and get jammers out and draw them back: this is how I can be most effective, I think. But I’m not sure if that’s my biggest strength. I think you’d have to ask my teammates or opponents to get a more accurate answer.
You have been a Subzero Siren since the team started in 2016. What have you enjoyed about being a part of this team?
Being able to skate with mostly all new teammates has been an interesting experience. There are a handful of us who have skated for years together on the Furies, but the majority of the Sirens are players that I had previously never skated with, except sometimes in an expo. It’s brought a whole new perspective and it’s been challenging and rewarding to work together to be able to play as a team when we’re all so new to each other. Even this year, it feels so much more like a cohesive unit than last year did, and I’m hoping that will continue to improve.
What are your roller derby goals for the future?
I’m always striving to improve my skills personally, but on a specific level I’m not sure. All I know is that I can’t see myself ever being able to completely give it up, unless I physically can’t skate anymore. I’ll be playing derby until I’m a grandma, if I’m lucky.
~Interview by Necromatrix