July 11, 2012
You don’t have to be a David Bowie fan to appreciate the dedication and skill that Alassin Sane brings to her home league, the Atlanta Rollergirls. Known for her never-give-up attitude both on and off the track, Alassin Sane will take her special brand of determination to new heights in her role as the new WFTDA President. Leadership is nothing new to Lass, who has served on the ARG board of directors, as a WFTDA skater rep, and a mentor for the WFTDA Apprentice Program. Read on to learn more about this dynamic skater and her commitment to the WFTDA.
Derby name: Alassin Sane
Home league: Atlanta Rollergirls
Home team you play for: Toxic Shocks
What is your roller derby position of choice?
Whatever gets me on the track.
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I like routine! For bouts at home, a trip to Whole Foods, get to the venue early, change into my uniform, and relax until it’s team time.
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
Usually I'm focused on my teammates. Is everyone here? Does everyone look confident? Are we on schedule?
Do you have a motivational quote?
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort
Do you have a theme song?
“Don't Stop Me Now” by Queen.
What is your favorite derby moment?
I went to Heartland Havoc (WFTDA's first Eastern Regional tournament in 2007) to support a friend who played for the Detroit Derby Girls. She explained what a big deal it was for her team to be there and I was convinced to drive to Columbus, Ohio from Atlanta. That weekend changed my life. Not only was it my first derby experience, but it was a weekend full of some of the best skaters in the country. A lot of those skaters are still at the top today. Every time I meet one of them in person for the first time, or skate with or against them, I'm reminded about how that weekend inspired me and how far that inspiration has taken me.
How did you get involved with roller derby?
The week after Eastern Regionals in 2007, the Atlanta Rollergirls were having a workshop for new skaters. I've been skating ever since.
Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
When I made up my mind that I was going to play roller derby, I had no idea how to skate or any of the intricacies of the game. I was lucky enough to join a league that helped me turn my determination into enough skill to pass by tryouts and get drafted. That help and my determination also lead me to be selected for our WFTDA Charter team, The Dirty South Derby Girls, that same season.
Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Give it a try. It isn't for everyone, but you won't know until you give it a shot.
Can you explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name?
I've loved David Bowie for as long as I can remember. When I joined derby and thought of how so many people had an alter-ego, it just reminded me of Bowie and how you can just decide to be whoever you want to be. So my name ended up being a play on the Aladdin Sane record. My number is 73 – the year the album was released. The title itself is a play on words A-Lad-Insane, which is why I go by “Lass” (not Allison) because it’s supposed to be pronounced A-Lass-Insane.
Who are your derby heroes?
Sass Knuckles, Detroit Derby Girls. She was the one who asked me to come to Easterns in 2007. She's the one who helped me believe that I could do it. When I saw her on the track being fierce and athletic, it was mind-blowing. She was someone I had always looked up to, but seeing her play roller derby magnified some of her most amazing qualities that most people never saw before she was a rollergirl.
How would you describe your derby playing style?
I try to be strategic. Oddly enough I don't like being hit, so the more I work with other people the better. I am not a lone wolf.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I played some sports in school, but I never fell in love with anything the way I did roller derby.
We understand that you are a trainer for the Atlanta Rollergirls. What made you want to be involved in training your league?
I love helping people learn new things. I needed a lot of help when I began, so at first I think it started as a “paying it forward” sort of thing. I can really identify with the frustration of not being able to do the things you want to on your skates. Now I like helping out with breaking skills down and making things seem easier. It’s fun to help skaters do things at a practice or a workshop that they wouldn’t have thought possible before they came.
As a trainer, what are some of your favorite on skates training tips? Off skates?
On skates, I don't tolerate the “I can’t” attitude. You have to believe you can do it in order to achieve success in anything, even if you know that success may take a very long time. Off skates: put in the extra time off skates so you are stronger and more in control while on skates. For my own off skates training, I’ve started running more and trying to do other off skates cardio like jumping rope to help with my endurance and overall performance.
Congratulations on your election as the new President of the WFTDA! How does it feel to be filling such big shoes in this important position?
I'm lucky that I'm coming to the WFTDA Board of Directors as the only new kid on the block this year. I tried to prepare myself before running for the position for what was in store, but I know that, in this sport especially, nothing is predictable. I am thankful for my fellow Board members and our Executive Director for their guidance and support.
Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing to prepare to take over as the President of the WFTDA? Do you have any specific goals for the organization during your term?
What I've been doing since I accepted the nomination is being even more thoughtful about listening to the membership. I really think that what makes our organization successful is that we are run and driven by what our members want. I want to make sure that as President I keep that in mind.
What leadership roles have you held with the Atlanta Rollergirls and in the WFTDA? How do you think those experiences will help you as President of the WFTDA?
The past three years I have served on Atlanta's board of directors as our lead WFTDA representative. My committee encompassed all of our WFTDA representatives as well as our interleague committee. Through that role I met a lot of the people that I work with as WFTDA President, whether that was through games, derby events, WFTDA jobs or the WFTDA forum.
In addition to that, I've been a mentor – for leagues in the WFTDA’s Apprentice Program – for a while now and it has really helped me gain new perspectives. When I became a rollergirl, I was joining a league that was a founding member of the WFTDA. I knew very little about what it meant to exist and survive in the derby world without the support system that the WFTDA provides. When an Apprentice league asks for advice on a topic they are sure is unique to them and multiple leagues step up and share their own experiences, it’s really magical. No need to reinvent the wheel and no desire to keep secrets.
You list your mom as one of your biggest fans. How has her support and influence made you the person and player you are today?
My mom is the strongest woman I know. She has gone through very tough things in her life and has always learned from those experiences and somehow become stronger from them. When I find myself needing motivation or strength, I can call her or just think of her and I get it. I'm very lucky to have such a magnificent mother.
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
My fiancé, Adam. We've been together twice as long as I've been skating. He's fantastically supportive and I'm lucky that he genuinely enjoys roller derby.
My family. I never have to explain my obsession to them; they get it and accept it.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.