May 2, 2012
This skater is the definition of teamwork on the track – taking a leadership role, and pushing her teammates into the hits that need to be made. She has been with the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls since the beginning, and through their flat track domination during the 2010 WFTDA Big 5 season. She is also a creative force for roller derby behind the scenes – bringing us fiveonfive magazine and working as Creative Director for the WFTDA. Read on to learn more about Assaultin’ Pepa…
Derby name: Assaultin’ Pepa
Home league: Rocky Mountain Rollergirls
Home team you play for: I play for the Red Ridin’ Hoods. Go Hoods!
What is your roller derby playing position of choice?
Anything but jammer.
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I try to take it easy before a game, drink lots of water, and have someone braid my hair.
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I stay positive and visualize playing a great game.
How did you get involved with roller derby?
A few friends of mine (who are no longer skating) wanted to check it out and I decided I would go to ONE practice for fun, but I wasn’t going to commit to anything. After the one practice, I was hooked.
Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
Honestly, when I first started skating, I thought we were just practicing on a flat track and eventually would be skating on a banked track. I really had no idea what I signed up for. Blocking was scary because I was still learning how to stay upright on my skates. I feel like we eased into the sport. It was so new to everyone back then, we were all learning together. It's different for the new skaters now; it is not as easy to jump in because the sport has evolved so much since then.
Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
DO IT! You won’t ever regret it and you won’t ever know how much you love it until you actually give it a try.
How did you choose your derby name?
My boyfriend actually came up with it and I thought it was brilliant. My only concern was that my leaguemates would call me “Ass” for short, but luckily they call me “Pepa” (and just refer to me as “ass” behind my back).
Who are your derby heroes?
First of all, my teammates. I'm honored to skate with such an amazing group. RMRG is truly a family and I am so lucky to be part of such a great organization. Thank you, thank you to all the volunteers and skaters that make derby possible. You guys rock.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I dabbled in a few different sports but mainly just stuck to volleyball. I skated for fun at the roller rink once in a while in junior high.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Being a part of the 2010 Championship team in Chicago, in my home state, with my dad there to watch me. I don’t think I will ever be able to top that.
Off the track?
How would you describe your derby playing style?
I am very much a team player. I know that I can’t do it alone out there and it’s all about the team. I am also pretty vocal and take the leadership role on the track.
Do you have a signature move?
I am known for pushing other players around on the track. Rather than going for a big hit myself, I would rather push my teammate into someone. But I do like a good jammer take-out once in a while too.
You are known for being not only a strong blocker, but also an incredibly smart pivot, making quick decisions on the track that help your team succeed. How did you get so derby smart? How have your pivot skills changed over the course of your derby career?
I’ve always been fascinated with the strategy of derby and it took me many years for it to finally click. There are still a lot of things I need to learn and the game is constantly changing, but I am really intrigued by it and excited when someone comes up with something new. But when it boils down to it, I just know the basic strategies and try to focus on those as much as I can.
We understand that you are currently Sin City Skates only sponsored skater. How did you develop this relationship with Sin City, and how does it feel to be singled out by such a widely recognized derby store?
I have known Ivanna S. Pankin and Trish the Dish for many years and we have always respected each other as skaters. It’s an honor to be the first sponsored skater for them and I hope to do right by them and skate as best as I can this season.
You are the WFTDA’s long standing Creative Director. Thank you! In this role, you have been responsible for designing some of the WFTDA’s most recognizable logos, including most recently, the amazing logo for the WFTDA Officiating Clinics. Again, thank you! Can you please talk about how you approach the design process for these derby-related projects?
I think the trick is keeping the look of WFTDA projects consistent, the designs should catch the eye, and at the same time be familiar enough that you know what you're looking at.
According to Tamarra Neverdyes (WFTDA Marketing Officer), you have “one of the best derby artistic eyes out there.” How have you developed your “derby artistic eye?” What do you think are the elements of a successful derby design?
I just try to stick to the WFTDA look and make sure that everything is readable and easy on the eyes. I also have both visual arts and marketing degrees, and have worked in the field for many years.
In addition to designing for the WFTDA yourself, as Creative Director, you manage a team of designers. Please tell us what it is like to be involved with this group of creative derby folk, and managing the artistic side of the organization.
We have a great group of designers (Busty Brawler – Steel City Derby Demons, Chesty Copperpot – Rollergirls of Southern Indiana, Cliquework – Demolition City Roller Derby, Scarmen Hellectra – Minnesota RollerGirls, Battleaxe – Killamazoo Derby Darlins) who really don’t need much managing. I just let them do their thing.
You are the driving force behind fiveonfive magazine, which is an amazing resource in the roller derby community. What made you want to start a roller derby magazine? What role do you hope fiveonfive plays in the derby world?
I started the magazine because I thought there was a need for easy to find, useful information about derby, for example, information about how to become a better skater/athlete, and information about how to run and build a league business. And, of course, it would be great to dedicate my full work week to derby someday! Overall, I really want fiveonfive to contribute to the growth of the sport. If we all help each other, roller derby will continue to succeed.
How do you, and the team at fiveonfive, make decisions about content for each issue? What, if any, are the challenges associated with developing new, relevant content?
We are so thankful to have so many people contact us with story ideas and it’s really those contributors who make the magazine what it is. We are pretty picky about content but almost everything we receive is a perfect fit for the magazine. Since our contributors are part of the derby community, they really know what skaters want to read about.
In addition to providing art and design support for DNN, fiveonfive magazine and DNN’s sister site, DerbyLife, have a special, collaborative relationship. How and when did this relationship originate? What role do you, and the team at fiveonfive, have in developing or providing content for DerbyLife?
It is the perfect collaboration because there are times when we get certain articles that don't quite fit DNN and don't quite fit fiveonfive. Sometimes it's about timing, or the topic, or the article is just too controversial. It’s great that there is a place for that material. The other cool thing about DerbyLife is that readers can discuss the article instantly and share their thoughts and opinions with the derby world.
You have been a member of Team Awesome for a while now. For those who do not know, can you tell us a bit about Team Awesome? What is your favorite part of playing with Team Awesome? Does Team Awesome have any bouts coming up?
Team Awesome started as a challenge team at one of the first ECDX tournaments and they needed players for a few bouts and I was able to jump in and play with them, and I have played in bouts periodically with the team over the years. Team Awesome was started by Lexie Deluxe for a group of skaters to get together and play some derby for fun.
Team Awesome is actually playing Rocky Mountain Rollergirls’ 5280 Fight Club in Denver on May 5th! (We had a hard time finding an opponent so we hit them up and they were more than willing to come play us – we can’t wait!)
For more information about Team Awesome, visit: http://awesomederby.com/about.html
You are one of the few skaters who has been with the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls from their last place finish at the first WFTDA Championship tournament in 2006, all the way through their win at the 2010 WFTDA Championship tournament, and is still skating today. Can you talk about how things have changed since those early days? How have your own derby habits – on track training, eating, mental preparation, etc. – changed since you started playing?
Things have changed so much from that first tournament in 2006. We really had no idea what we were doing back then and I think our strategy was to hit the jammer and that was the extent of it. The thought of ever being at the level of the Texas Rollergirls was not even a consideration. I never imagined we would even be able to hang with teams like that now (I believe we scored only 1 point against Tucson Roller Derby)! Back then, we rarely had team practices (only league practices) and now we are able to have team practices twice a week since we have our own practice space, which is really great.
Our whole team does a lot of visualization before a game and that’s something I never really knew about before derby. It’s huge in mental preparation and really helps.
You are consistently referred to as an unsung hero of the roller derby world. With all of the projects you are involved with off the track, it’s hard to imagine that you also have time to train to be the amazing skater you are on the track. How do you find a balance with all of your off track and on track roller derby projects? Do you have any tricks for getting everything done?
Ha. I should probably get more sleep and spend less time in front of a computer but it seems to work for me for now. I am sort of a workaholic so it’s hard for me to sit still for too long. I really wish I had more time to get even more things done!
But I think the “secret” is that I care about derby so much and want to see it (and my league) succeed, and that really motivates me.
What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I currently work as a freelance artist for an ad agency. Thankfully, I found a job that gives me the flexibility to work on fiveonfive magazine and still have time for league work and skating.
With everything you do for roller derby (RMRG, WFTDA, fiveonfive, etc.), how do you achieve balance between derby and your “real life?”
Hmmm…I’m not sure if I am doing a very good job of balancing them. My life is very consumed by derby and luckily I have some great friends on the league who I can hang out with and have some fun with. My boyfriend is also very supportive of derby so that helps a lot. I try to make time for my “non-derby” friends at least once a month, if possible.
Do you have a special message to your fans?
I have fans???
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
All of my teammates and leaguemates, all of the volunteers and fans, everyone who supports derby!
Would you like to be the WFTDA Featured Skater of the month (or nominate one of your fantastic teammates)? If you are an active skater on a WFTDA full member league that has a dazzling derby career, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what makes you shine.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.