As our season comes to a close, we say farewell to one of our skaters who has been with NHRD since the early years. Irate Pirate has been skating with NHRD since 2008, been through all the various rule changes, home teams, travel teams, been captain, and on almost every committee that NHRD has. We wish you all the best with all your new adventures, and hope to see you cheering in the stands.
Name: Irate Pirate
Position: Blocker, Pivot
Rookie Year: 2008
Teams: Skate Free or Die! All Stars, Granite Skate Troopers, Cherry Bombs, NH Roller Derby All Stars
How did you find derby and what has
kept you in it for so long?
I found roller derby through a friend, Lyric. She skated with Boston when they were a wee league as the Lyrical Gangatah. She told me I should check it out, but I had a million excuses. One day I was reading a local newspaper (yeah, print) when I came across an article about the formation of a league in NH. My biggest excuse, it’s too far, was gone.
The sport, the competitive nature, the camaraderie, it all kept me going.
Tell us about the early years of roller derby, how do they compare to today’s derby?
When I first started the rules were a little stranger. Instead of just going to the penalty box, there was a wheel of punishment at some leagues; you could get spanked, you could have to do push ups, or other silly things (some were a bit humiliating).
Some leagues had the fake fighting and some did not. There weren’t really ‘contracts’ to determine what rules you were playing by. I remember a horror story about a game in Maine where the visitors tried to start “fights” and Maine was not having it.
There were ‘minor penalties’ as well as ‘major penalties’; once you got 4 minors you were sent to the box. There was a lot of confusion when that happened. You’d be skating, thinking “Yeah, I am rockin… what Why am I going to the box?” You also didn’t get ejected for 7 penalties. The only way to get ejected when I first started was to really f*@k up.
All in all the rules and how WFTDA leagues are ranked are the biggest changes.
We also were tighter with surrounding leagues. Because no one really knew what they were doing at the time, we relied on people who had been skating a few months or a year longer to assist with practices. We had some great guest coaches come and help us out through the early years.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome in your derby career?
Like most athletes, I had a hard time with my mental game. I would always compare myself to others, when I knew I should only compare myself to me. I also was my worst critic. It’s tough to get beyond this for anyone, because sometimes you feel great and one little comment will tailspin you into “Why can’t I do this, man I suck!”
What was the hardest part about playing roller derby?
Learning the rules and becoming adaptable to them. Where modern roller derby is still young compared to other sports, the rules are ratified often. This means players need to be adaptable to the changing of the tide when it comes to the rules.
Also, the time commitment. Most rookies don’t realize right away that roller derby will take over your life if you let it. Balancing the life you had and the new one you are making is hard.
Tell us about the jobs you have done throughout your time with NHRD? Which was your favorite and why?
I have been head of fund raising, on the governing body, the growth committee (we only had it one year), a member of mediation, captain on a home team (twice) as well as on the All-Stars. I’ve held a couple of spots on PR, mostly as the liaison for radio spots and interviews. I have been a part of bout/games production and the volunteer coordinator. And I have also been a member of training.
Out of all of these, the most fun I have had was working with PR on interviews for print and radio. It was fun and something I never thought I would be capable of doing. I am a (believe it or not) shy person, so speaking in front of crowds is hard. Calling in to radio stations and knowing hundreds of people could hear me was also a little daunting. But, soon it was second nature.
We will miss seeing your face! What are you most looking forward to now that derby doesn’t take over your life?
Sleep! When you get out of practice at 10 at night and then drive 30 to 90 minutes to get home, then shower, and finally get into bed… it is almost time to get up. I am enjoying a regular bed time.
I am spending a lot more quality time with Mr. Pirate as well. Turns out I like him and I have missed the quality time, though I worry he will demand I put my skates back on soon to get me out of the house.
What has been the most positive thing that you’ve gotten out of derby? A sense of self, and the ability to step out of my comfort zone. I am normally very shy. I know most people would never believe me, but it is true. I find it hard to approach new people or speak in front of crowd. Roller Derby has helped me face this fear. I also know who I am. I know what I want out of life and I know I can get it.
Derby is full of great people, a ton of lifetime friends are made through this sport, what is your greatest derby memory with these people?
There are far too many memories. I could never narrow it down to one or two things. I will forever treasure each experience, every moment on the road, at practice, during games, and each friendship I have made through my time playing Roller Derby. Nothing can ever be as amazing.
Any other sports you’d like to conquer?I was looking into the SCA. It’s not a sport per se, but I have always had a thing for heavy list combat. I have also debated rugby, but I am not sure I have the time.
What did it take to get the league from where it was then to where it is now?
It took a lot of work. Each person to come and go from NHRD in my time has contributed thousands of hours of personal time and numerous personal resources.
We started as a group of 4 women at a party saying ‘let’s do this’ and became D1 contenders. That happened on the backs and shoulders of those skaters and the continued efforts of the skaters that came after. It has taken a lot of shared knowledge, compromise and more. Each person (skater, official, and volunteers) helped us go from barely a business to a thriving 501c3 used their resources, personal and professional connections, as well as time.
I am not sure NHRD ever expected to ‘be’ something when starting out, we just wanted to play our sport and be ‘Rock and Roll”. NHRD can be whatever it wants now. If NHRD can find that momentum again for recruiting, growth, and training, they can see sustainable growth and maybe even another tournament like D1. It is going to take a lot of effort, compromise, tears, and sweat.
What advice would you give on how to last and keep going?
Spread the work. Step up, don’t ask what you are supposed to do… just do something to help.
Practice like you play. Less than 100% is cheating you and you alone.
Take breaks. Hiatus is a wonderful thing, and we all need time to heal.
Balance, balance, balance! If you realize you lost connection with old friends, call them and do something with them that is not derby related.
Learn to ride pine (be on the bench). Not everyone gets to play every game.
Try not to forget why you fell in love with this sport. It is all consuming, and sometimes we forget why we are here. Do things that remind you (go to an open scrimmage, attend a neighboring league’s games).
HEAL! If you get injured, don’t just skate through it. We know you are a rock star because you are on that track. You are totally bad ass, but take it from me and all my injuries that never healed … take a break and do off skates for a while your body heals.
Spend time outside of roller derby doing non roller derby activities.
You are a rock star.