March 8, 2012
The Terminal City Rollergirls are proud to call this skater one of their own and recently named her league MVP. She loves jamming and shares her love of the position and roller derby as a traveling coach and owner of derby business, Pivotstar. In 2012, she’ll teach you how to improve your own game play if you attend a Camp Pivotstar bootcamp! Read on to learn more about Luludemon…
Derby name: Luludemon
Number: 44 (It’s the country code when I am calling home!)
Home league: Terminal City Rollergirls, Vancouver, Canada
What is your roller derby playing position of choice?
Jammer! I love jamming!
What is your skate gear of choice?
Riedell 265s with nylon DA45 Skinz, short plate forward mounted, Atom Stingers. Honestly I have no idea about gear, I just ask Rollergirl (owner of Rollergirl.ca and my team captain) what I should be riding and she always gets it right!
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Our team has incorporated a lot of things we learnt from the Roller Derby World Cup into our pre-bout routine: from the importance of earplugs at tournaments to our hour long team warm up that involves cardio, dynamic stretching, and team bonding. My personal routine involves constant snacking (I get bad sugar lows if I don’t regulate my intake) and taking Tums to avoid having to run to the bathroom every 5 minutes!
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I think about how awesome my team is. How I know they will be there for me when I stumble. How they need me to be my very best today, so I have to put aside any negative thoughts or worries and skate, score points, and make my team proud.
Do you have a motivational quote?
“It’s not how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can be hit and keep moving forward.”
Do you have a theme song?
It changes all the time, but the one I used to get in the zone for the Canada versus USA game (at the Roller Derby World Cup) was “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor.
What is your favorite derby moment?
Scoring the first points for Team Canada in the final of the World Cup against Team USA. Oh, and lining up on the jam line with Suzy Hotrod, oh and Atomatrix, oh and Bonnie Thunders. Oh, and hearing the crowd roar whenever we skated out that weekend. Can I have a whole weekend as a derby moment?
How did you get involved with roller derby?
I had recently moved to Canada and was looking for a sport that would keep me fit and help me to make friends in this new city. One day as I was getting ready to go to my job at the restaurant I saw the recently formed league on a local TV show. I already roller bladed and played roller hockey and I thought this looked pretty similar and fun so I signed up. A year later I quit my evening job because it was interfering with my derby schedule and I was officially hooked.
Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Do it! But know why you are doing it and research your options before committing to one league. Personally I think derby should be accessible to everyone, regardless of athletic ability, gender or age. Find a league that fits your current goals and lifestyle and make decisions early on about how much time you are going to dedicate to this sport. Derby is my whole life – it’s my family, my health and my business – but I don’t think everyone has to be this way to be a member of our community. (Thanks to Smarty Pants for previous thought provoking discussions on this topic!)
How did you choose your derby name?
Someone else chose it for me! Seriously I had some hideous names picked out which I am SO glad that I didn’t go with. The spooky thing is that it is a play on the yoga clothing brand Lululemon, and I now own a derby clothing brand Pivotstar. At the time I had zero involvement in the fashion industry (I even hate shopping!) so it’s a little weird that I have ended up surrounded by athletic clothing. Maybe our derby names have more power over us than we think!
Who are your derby heroes?
I have so many! OK briefly:
• Coaches – Smarty Pants and Bonnie D. Stroir who I got the privilege of coaching with at some Blood and Thunder camps last year.
• Skaters – Stefanie Mainey is my hometown hero (way to represent London roller derby!), Iron Wench and Smack Daddy who were so inspiring to skate with at the World Cup.
And basically all of my team mates on the TCRG All-Stars who inspire me to push myself and be a better person as well as skater.
How would you describe your derby playing style?
Enthusiastic and bouncy.
Do you have a signature move?
I try not to have a signature move – have to always keep those blockers guessing! But if there is one thing that I am known for doing it’s faking one way and then jumping the other way. I don’t even consciously try and do it, but I keep getting photos of me in mid air – I think it’s a self preservation reflex.
You are known for being a jammer who loves to jam. What is it about jamming that makes your heart go all a flutter, and your face light up in a (signature) smile? What do you have to say to skaters who are nervous about jamming?
I love to jam because jamming is like a puzzle. You have to figure out how to use the appropriate skill for that pack or moment (whether it’s a fast break to the outside, or a slow push up the middle), how to work with your blockers to achieve your goal and constantly be adapting to what’s happening in the pack, what the refs are calling, what’s the time on the clock. It’s so intense and mental and fun, I love it!
And I love talking to skaters that are nervous about jamming. I find you have two types – the new skaters that have never jammed and the older skaters that refuse to jam. The first type is easier to influence, but I especially love talking with skaters that have jammed in the past and have had bad experiences. Jamming is a huge mental game. When you are starting out jamming, or returning to jamming, don’t let points define whether you feel successful on the track. You set your own measures of success – whether it’s passing one blocker (yay success!) or getting a whip from a teammate (yay another success!). Jammers and their teammates put way too much focus on points, which is such a small part of being a jammer. And remember, jammers collect points but blockers score points.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
Honestly I was never very sporty in school. I went to a very academic English private school where girls were not allowed to play soccer or rugby or any of the fun sports. Plus, I have issues with hand-eye coordination – there is a reason I play a sport where there are no balls involved! But I have always been on wheels – I started roller blading at age 11 and spent my formative years skating around London and playing roller hockey in Hyde Park. I also snowboard, which is one of the reasons I moved to Vancouver – yay mountains!
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
I am really proud of how far our WFTDA team has come. I have been part of our “travel team” since its inception and we have always struggled with focus and teamwork. We have been working really hard for the last year to change the culture of the team and it is starting to translate to our game play. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of.
Off the track?
I started my own derby clothing company Pivotstar almost 2 years ago now. It has grown like crazy and it’s been a fabulous learning experience. It has enabled me to travel all over the world and work with other amazing derby entrepreneurs. It’s pretty awesome to be part of such a supportive and innovative community.
Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
My rookie year was pretty up and down. I started when the league was 6 months old so we were all still figuring out how the game worked. We were one of the first leagues in Canada and still fairly early on in derby’s development so there weren’t a lot of resources out there for learning how to play the game. Plus, I was working a night job so the only practices I could make were at 9a.m. on Sunday (after finishing work at 2a.m. on Saturday). At the time I had no idea that we were meant to skate in front of people and wear crazy outfits. My first bout I threw up on the way to the venue and the pictures are hilarious – I look like a deer in the headlights! It took me about a year to really get into the sport and decide that it was something I wanted to do more seriously.
You are currently the co-captain of the Terminal City all star team and have been named league MVP. Congratulations! As a leader in a fairly new WFTDA member league, what leadership traits do you think are particularly important? How do you see yourself as a leader in your league?
Like most leagues, our league has been going through some changes recently in terms of structure and focus. For the first 4 years we were very focused on our house team championship, to the point where it started to affect our ability to function as a league. Becoming a WFTDA league was part of changing that focus. As a leader I made the hard choice to leave my house team and commit 100% to the WFTDA team. Personally I feel that my individual skills suffered as a result and it was hard to see my home team struggle without a number of key team members. But someone had to make that leap and I feel that it is leadership’s responsibility to put the health of the league first. But leaders also have to know when to step away – right now our WFTDA team is doing really well, our house teams are filled up with new skaters/leaders and the league is fun again – so I have actually stepped aside as co-captain to focus on my skating and my business.
The Terminal City All-Stars recently competed in their first tournament since becoming a WFTDA member league, taking home three wins from The Big O in Eugene, Oregon. What was the experience like for you and for your team? What lessons did you learn from the trip?
This was our first tournament together and I was blown away by how professional every single member of our team was. Everyone was focused and supportive, we had a plan and we went in there and we executed that plan. We were not sure exactly what to expect from the teams we were playing, but we just played our game, kept together and adjusted as necessary. Personal lessons that I learnt from this trip – Charmer rocks! She helped release a pinched muscle in my butt that was excruciatingly painful. Thank you amazing masseuse lady!
Congratulations on being selected as a member of Team Canada for the 2011 World Cup! What does it mean to you to have been selected for this honor? What was it like to compete for Canada?
Being selected for Team Canada was an incredible journey. From the initial shock at being selected, the outpouring of support from the Canadian derby community to finally meeting the team 2 days before the tournament and then coming together to compete against the best teams in the world. It was an experience I will never forget. I have flashbacks occasionally where I am standing on the jam line and I look over and there’s DeRanged, or I am trying to get through the pack and I am being pummeled by Stefanie Mainey, or I am discussing jammer strategy on the bench with Iron Wench. Skating with and against your heroes is pretty awesome. Of course at the time I was thinking “oh yeah Suzy Hotrod, you got nothing, I got you!”
How has your experience of roller derby with Terminal City contributed to your performance at the 2011 World Cup?
Terminal City taught me everything I know! My league members were a huge support before, during and after the tournament. They are my family, and while Team Canada is a beautiful thing, they are my first love. During the World Cup I was constantly taking mental notes of training routines and new skills that I could bring back to my league so that we can grow together.
We understand there was a point in your history where you had a broken neck and shattered pelvis. Can you tell us a bit about what happened? How did you move past that experience to become an athlete playing a full contact sport at the highest levels?
I was 19 years old and I was volunteering for a building project in Namibia, Africa. We were traveling through a remote area by bus when we hit a sand bank and rolled the bus. I was curled up next to the window so I came flying out and hit the ground, breaking my neck in two places, my pelvis in three and my left arm – just to finish it up! I was in hospital for 3 weeks and then bed rest/wheelchair for 3 months before I was finally allowed to start my first year at Edinburgh University with a neck brace and a crutch. I never really thought about it holding me back from sports, it was just an injury that I had to work through. Although I do remember visiting my osteopath and asking if I could take up kickboxing and he wasn’t so pleased! More than anything that experience taught me what is important in this world – friends, family, nurses, doing things now, not making excuses for why you can’t do something.
You have been a traveling coach with Blood and Thunder Training Camps. How did you get started as a traveling coach? What benefits to your own derby skating have you experienced from being a traveling coach? How does your coaching experience benefit your league?
I love coaching – whether it’s coaching a league practice, bootcamp or one-on-one lessons. Becoming a traveling coach was always a dream of mine and then one day I just decided to reach out and see if anyone was interested in having me come coach – and they were! Working with Blood and Thunder has been a great learning experience as a coach and a skater. Being able to watch other coaches and their different teaching styles has taught me so much. Plus when I am not coaching I am taking as many classes as I can!
You are the owner and creator of the derby based business, Pivotstar, creators of the popular sleeveless jammer hoodie. What motivated you to start this business? What are the challenges of balancing the demands of the business and your skating career? How does it feel to be at a roller derby tournament or event and see your jammer hoodies on skaters from around the world?
It’s actually fascinating how many derby skaters are business owners. I think there is definitely something about the mentality of skating or derby that lends itself towards entrepreneurship. I was inspired and supported by the wonderful Lisa Suggit, owner of Rollergirl.ca to start Pivotstar and it was a great decision. Of course it’s challenging to balance the two demands, but one of the reasons for starting a derby based business was so that it would compliment my skating schedule. The events that I would want to be at anyway (like RollerCon and WWSD) I get to go to for “work.” It’s great! And every time I see my clothing on a skater that I don’t know I get a little thrill of excitement. All of the items I produce at Pivotstar go through rigorous testing and development, so once they are out in the world it’s always great to hear how much people love them.
We hear that you will be launching your own roller derby training camp, Camp Pivotstar, in 2012. What services will Camp Pivotstar offer? What made you want to offer your own training camp?
Yes, we just launched Camp Pivotstar this month. I have teamed up with my fellow Team Canada teammate 8Mean Wheeler to offer league training, bootcamps, strategy sessions, league facilitation – you name it we’ve got it. We had noticed a real lack of structured coaching services offered in Canada, especially ongoing support for league growth. We are working with some of the best coaches in this sport to bring their combined knowledge and expertise to leagues around the world. Our first bootcamp is scheduled for April 7/8th in Chilliwack, BC and we have a pretty awesome coaching line up: Beretta Lynch (Team Canada, former road racing champion, dietician), Stan da Side (Puget Sound Outcasts, 6 time Canadian speed skating champion), Mack the Mouth (Team Canada and TCRG All Stars coach), On da Sligh (Slaughter County, US hockey team), and the amazing B-Train (Angel City, owner of Wicked Skatewear).
Our website is www.camppivotstar.com.
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
I want to thank my non-derby family for their incredible support of my derby career and my business ownership. My long suffering parents who don’t understand why I couldn’t have taken up knitting, my sister who lives in South Africa and would be an amazing derby player (if they had such things out in the bush!), and my wonderful boyfriend Paul who keeps me from taking things too seriously.
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 email@example.com and let us know what makes you shine.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.