January 2012 Featured Skater: Smack Daddy

January 3, 2012

She may be a ladies’ lady, but Smack Daddy leaves that charm off the track. On the track, 12 other countries recognized her formidable skills by selecting her as the overall MVP of the Roller Derby World Cup in December. She's also a dedicated, neon-wearing New Skid on the Block, who has started her own business, which she aims to balance with her roller derby schedule. Read on to learn more about Smack Daddy…

Photo by "Photeau" Joe Medolo

Name: Smack Daddy

Number: 3X

Tagline: Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts' probably lost.

Home league: Montréal Roller Derby

Home Team: I used to play for Les Filles Du Roi, and now I play only with the New Skids on the Block.

What is your roller derby playing position of choice?
I’m really enjoying pivoting right now. I like the extra challenge of blocking while constantly communicating with my pack, it’s an important role and I love the pressure. During my first two seasons I did a lot of jamming for my home team and the New Skids so during my third season I focused mostly on blocking. Now entering my fourth season I’m going to work on being a solid triple threat!

What is your skate gear of choice?
I love my 965 Riedell boot, my Easton hockey helmet, and my Heartless wheels. The rest I’m easy about as long as it comes from Georgia W. Tush’s store Neon Skates, which is conveniently located next to my bar!

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
As my teammates know, this answer could be very long! I like my rituals. I put on my lucky bearings the practice before the bout. When it’s a home game I eat my favorite pasta the night before then I watch a UFC highlight DVD in the morning while stretching. I also avoid puppies and children on game day ’cause they are too cute and make me soft. I need to get a little angry before a bout, I’ll often think about things I find unjust in the world and channel that energy into being strong on the track. Right before the bout starts I need to hug my buddy Lil Mama and do some push-ups with Iron Wench.

Iron Wench and Smack Daddy at the 2011 World Cup
Photo by Sean Murphy

What is your favorite derby moment?
Being MVP at the 2011 Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto.

Who are your derby heroes?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Suzy Hotrod and Joy Collision. And at the World Cup Team USA game (Stripes versus Stars), I totally had a girl power moment where I felt like I finally found those ‘girls I wanna be’ that I had never found when I was growing up. Better late than never!

Do you have a motivational quote?
It’s simple and so true: no pain, no gain!

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
‘How come I have such small feet?’ (I wear a size 4!)

Do you have a theme song?
Express Yourself by N.W.A.

Do you have a signature move?
I’m a pretty emotional player so I’d say that I’m known for being a bit of a hothead and for being very vocal. Georgia W. Tush says that I puff my chest when I do something awesome. I allow myself to ‘start the chainsaw’ when I’m jamming and we have a solid lead. And in terms of blocking I use a punchy hip thrust to make hits to the outside.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
I actually DJ’d a couple games during the first two seasons in Montréal ’cause I knew a bunch of the players, but the truth is I was there for the party more than the sport. Eventually Beater Pan-Tease started harassing me to play and I caved in and instantly fell in love with the sport and the community.

How did you come up with your derby name?
Once upon a time I was quite popular with the ladies so my friends called me Mac Daddy, but now that I would rather focus on one lady and use my time to train for derby, the name became derby appropriate: ‘Smack’ ’cause I can give a hard hit and ‘Daddy’ cause I’m quite protective of my teammates.

Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Do it for the right reason. It’s not a social club. It’s a serious sport, so you have to be ready to train and make sacrifices to be healthy. I see so many girls get injured every season because they aren’t training outside of practices. You have to be fit to play derby! Think of this: ‘don’t play the sport to train, train to play the sport.'

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Passionate and a little rough around the edges. I’m far from being graceful but I get the job done ’cause I work hard, have fire and a lot of heart.

You have been doing a lot of blocking on the track recently, however we know you are a double threat who can handle donning the jammer star as well. You have also been nominated as a triple threat skater (jammer, blocker, pivot) in the Derby News Network’s Best of 2011 Readers’ Poll. How do you feel about being considered a triple threat?
It feels great to be nominated because I’ve been working very hard at being a well-rounded player. All the top players in our sport are double or triple threats so I figured it was something to aim for. I think it’s a good way to keep your team unpredictable to have a few strong players that can be thrown into any position. [wftda.com note: Smack Daddy was voted Most Underrated Player (Women’s) by DNN’s readers. Congratulations!]

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I’ve been playing team sports my entire life, I played soccer, baseball and hockey and on weekends when I didn’t have games I’d be on the bench at my older brother’s baseball or hockey games as a batboy or something. I love being part of a team and being physically active is a necessity for me, it's as important as sleeping or eating. I need to play and run around most days in order to sleep well and feel calm. I played elite level soccer my whole life and ended my soccer career after being captain of the Concordia University team. Since then I had been training at the gym and running 10K races and playing a bunch of sports for fun but I really missed being on a team, competing and training with purpose, till derby came into my life in 2009.

Photo by Dave Wood Photography

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Winning the MTLRD championship title for the two years when I was on a home team, making it to the East Region playoffs with the New Skids in 2010 and 2011, and winning Silver at the World Cup with Team Canada.

Off the track?
I opened a bar/venue this past year called the Royal Phoenix Bar in Montréal. It’s a rad space, a hang-out, restaurant, nightclub, and of course clubhouse for the Montréal derby league. It’s my baby. The crowd is hip and queer and inspired by the derby community: eclectic and diverse! We do everything from crazy dance parties with wicked DJs to having an Arcade Fire musician perform during brunch to fundraising for causes I feel strongly about. Being able to promote the artists I respect while working for myself and having my own staff is a dream come true.

Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
When I started playing in 2009 the Montréal league was still figuring out how to coach itself and questioning how serious it wanted to be, so I got to witness and be a part of an important shift in our league. Many of us pushed to bring the league practices and training to the next level and eventually the whole league got on board. It was also an awesome year for me as a rookie because I got drafted by the ‘Filles Du Roi’ home team, which included vets like Lil Mama, Jess Bandit and Beater Pan-Tease so I had awesome coaches. We trained hard and we won the Montréal Cup (MTLRD championship). I was also chosen to be a New Skid my rookie year so I got to learn from the best players in our league and be a part of the transition when we went from being ‘those cute crazy Neon Canadians’ to becoming a serious and respected derby team and proving that we could not only throw down a solid dance routine and rock the wackiest tights, but we can also play some decent roller derby!

You mentioned that you used to play for the Filles du Roi (MTLRD home team) before the New Skids' skaters went travel team-only. As a New Skids skater, how do you feel about playing only on the travel team?
It worked out great for us, it allowed our league to grow by making room for new players on home teams and became an opportunity for new leaders to step up and shine. And for the New Skid players it allowed us to grow, focus on ourselves as a team and our strategy as a unit.

Do you miss playing for a home team?
Honestly, no. During my second season I was co-captain of my home team and the New Skids, and my game suffered because I was drained. Back then we didn’t have the Rev as a coach. That’s why in my third season I stepped down from any leadership roles and just focused on personal training and improving as a player. This allowed me to bring my game to the next level. For the upcoming season I’ve accepted to coach my old home team, les Filles Du Roi cause they’re a great bunch of players and I love to coach but I’m happy just being on the sidelines!

Montréal Roller Derby’s travel team, the New Skids on the Block, is known for being a tight knit group with amazing pack work. What do you feel your league has done to foster this development?
We have a lot of leaders that have learned to make room for each other and work together. We use everyone’s strengths and we are gentle with each other. There’s a huge amount of love and respect at all times.

Photo by Dave Wood Photography

Congratulations on being named MVP of the 2011 World Cup! What does it mean to you to have been selected for this honor?
It means that Team USA was so effective as a unit that we couldn’t distinguish one individual to name her MVP! But seriously, I’m pretty sure I was recognized for my hard work, for being a team player and playing with a lot of heart and charisma, and for that to be recognized and be grounds for being named MVP is pretty rad. It’s actually the first time I have ever been named MVP in my three seasons, so it means a lot to me. Particularly being surrounded by so many other players that were just as worthy of it, I felt really fortunate.

How has your team contributed to your experience of roller derby, and to your performance at the 2011 World Cup?
The New Skids on the Block are my derby family, we have great leaders on the team and we all allow each other to shine in our own way. There’s tons of love and encouragement and feedback, we genuinely have each others' back. Most Skids who weren’t on Team Canada still came to the World Cup in Toronto to cheer us on which says a lot about our team. I felt very supported and that was a great motivation, knowing that my teammates and my league were watching made it feel like I was playing as a Skid and a Montréal player which made me want to represent us as best as I could.

The final game of the World Cup, when Team Canada took on Team USA, was a much-anticipated bout. What were your goals going into this match up? What was it like playing against Team USA?
Our goal was to score more points against them than all the teams had scored against them collectively during the tournament. We achieved that goal! The game was very challenging, The jam would end and I’d be wondering what to do differently in the next jam and essentially there wasn’t much we could do aside from try to stay together, they were just so much stronger than us. It was actually the most inspiring moment I’ve experienced since I started playing derby. I've never felt so useless and this fuelled my derby fire. I’m very competitive so I came home from the World Cup with a huge desire to train and improve and figure out what we can do to climb up there and one day (soon!) give Team USA some competition.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
It’s made me calmer and more confident.

Photo by Susan Moss

Is there overlap between your work and roller derby? How, if possible, do you achieve balance in your daily life?
There’s a huge overlap between roller derby and work because I opened my bar with a bench manager, Mamasan, who’s in our league. She knew from day one that a condition to me opening the business with her was that derby and training remained a priority in my life. So I work hard and run the business every day but I don't bartend and don't stay late. This is how I find balance: by staying healthy and having time at home with my lady and going to bed early most nights so I can work all day and practice or train at night. Right now I've found the balance between work, play, and rest so I couldn't be happier!

You shot, directed, and edited a series of youtube videos on the ever-evolving nature and disposition of the Montréal Roller Derby Girl, which are not only hilarious but also very relatable for other derby skaters (for example, “Shopping Trip”). How did you come up with the idea for these videos and do you have any plans to make additional ones?
The videos were inspired by the shift in my brain when I started playing derby, suddenly driving felt like jamming, and walking on the sidewalk I’d get visions of blocking people or giving a hip check to move someone who was in my way. So the videos were born from how your perception of the world changes when you become a derby girl. I didn’t have time last season ’cause I was opening the bar but yes, I’m hoping to make a few more this year!

Do you have a special message to your fans?
You’re hot.

Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
My family! My parents are so supportive of everything I do. The Montréal League for allowing me to be myself, the New Skids for being my fellow warriors, Team Canada for having Beaver Fever, and last but not least, my hot girlfriend and teammate, Apocalipstick, for allowing me to train so much, showing me how to skate better, and for being my number one fan.

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 webmaster@wftda.com and let us know what makes you shine.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.