November 2015 Featured Skater: Christy Demons

November 4, 2015

Christy Demons began her derby career nearly eight years ago and has been a big part of the wave of roller derby in Australia. Starting with the Sun State Roller Girls, Christy later made the move to her current league, Victorian Roller Derby League. The past few years of Christy's career of been especially of note, earning a spot on Team Australia for the 2014 Derby World Cup, MVP just this past September at D1 Playoffs in Tuscon, AZ and now heading to Saint Paul, MN for Championships! Get ready to watch Christy and her controlled, strategic game play on the track this month at Championships, and read more to learn about her journey.

What is your derby name?
Christy Demons

Please explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name.
I was brainstorming names with friends when I first started, and my friend Matthew came up with Christy Demons. When I first heard it I just laughed but then I thought, "hey, that's not bad." It was the best idea any of us had, so I kept it. It's a play on Crusty Demons, which is (according to wikipedia) a group of daredevil freestyle motorcyclists. I do not have any personal connection to the Crusty Demons or am really into them, I just thought the name Christy Demons sounded tough and appropriate for roller derby. Christy is actually my real name. Some people just call me Demons which I don't mind.

What is your number?
14, which is the number I played under for touch football. I brought it to derby cause I knew I would respond to it.

What is your home league?
Victorian Roller Derby League

Which team(s) do you play on?
I'm captain of my home team The Toxic Avengers. I play on VRDL's top representative travel team, the All Stars. I played for Team Australia in 2014.

What is your skate gear of choice?
I wear Riedell Blue Streaks with the Arius Plate, Radar Presto 93 wheels, also a lot of 187 gear.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I like to have a set schedule and feel organised and be early to the venue. I always try to test the track as much as possible before we play, but not because I need to change wheels, I rarely change wheels. Just because I want to play around on my skates, warm up my legs, test my edges and do some toe-stop stuff, and then I find a friend to do some jukes with. My team does an off skates warm up with an agility ladder which is definitely part of my ritual now. Sometimes right before the game I get in my own quiet corner and do some visualisation about the first jam. I like to keep things pretty low-key.

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I think I just stay in that moment and think about how the skates feel on my feet, making good double knots with the laces, and in what order I'm going to put on the rest of my gear.

November 2015 Featured Skater: Christy Demons

Photo by Tyler Shaw

Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
I don't exactly have a favourite quote, but my team usually has some words taped at our bench. I like the one that says, "2 minutes at a time." These words help me quite a lot during games.

Do you have a theme song?
I wouldn't say I have a theme song, but sometimes when I want to listen to something to make me feel ready to skate, I listen to a mix CD that I made ages ago, on my drive to training. This CD has a bunch of dancey, poppy, upbeat type songs that make me happy.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
In late 2008, my friend Candice invited me to watch her band play at a roller derby bout. I went along primarily to support her band but I was also interested in seeing what this roller derby thing was. I fell in love with derby at first sight. I took a friend with me to a fresh meat information session, and joined up straight away.

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I used to play netball, touch football, and did some cross country running. I've always liked team sports. As a kid I roller bladed a bit with my brother around parks. I broke my arm rollerblading down a hill out the front of my house. My mum was nervous when I started derby but said that she was fine with it when she saw me play and saw how happy it made me.

Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
I started derby with the Sun State Roller Girls (SSRG) in 2008. I had never worn roller skates before, but transitioned from roller blades to roller skates pretty quickly. I borrowed the sweaty old loaner gear for my first few sessions and wore 'mental rentals' for a bit, before I got my own skates and gear. I had some excellent coaches at SSRG who saw something in me and gave me a lot of feedback and encouragement. I worked hard, attended all the training sessions, and skated outdoors when I could.

I started bouting in early 2009, when I was drafted to my home team the Golden Roughs. We played against the Licorice Short Shorts. We had a pretty good rivalry, as there weren't a lot of other leagues in Australia back then to play against. We had big crowds and threw Golden Roughs (an Australian chocolate) to the crowd during our skate outs. My love of the rules was developed early as we had a lot of rules quizzes and rules discussions integrated into our training. I was voted into the role of Alternate Captain for the Golden Roughs (we didn't have off skates bench coaches back then) cause I knew the rules pretty well.

What is your position of choice?
If I could choose anything, I would play as a pivot! I love blocking, communicating in the pack, and being able to take star passes. I have always done both jamming and blocking, but when I moved to VRDL they needed a jammer and saw some jammer potential within me. I wasn't sure about it at first but I gave it my best shot and it seems to be working out okay now. Sometimes I get put in the pack to take a star pass if needed, which is quite exciting for me. I think everyone should get experience playing all positions, as it makes you so much better overall.

What is your signature move?
I don't have fancy tricks - my best trick is staying clean and being consistent.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Calm, strategic, methodical, aware.

Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
One of the best derby moments I've had was playing in Roller Derby Xtreme on the banked track in Brisbane, when Gotham and the LA Derby Dolls visited Australia. I was chosen as one of the local skaters to play with LA. It was a big production with lights and music and was the best fun playing with and against such experienced skaters. Another notable moment was at Playoffs 2014, when VRDL played Philly Roller Derby. We had trained hard in the lead up to this game and had prepared specifically to try to neutralise their strongest players. In one of my first jams I lined up against V-Diva, got lead, scored some points and called it off so she didn't score any. I was quite impressed with that. That whole game was amazing - we won, and earned our first ever spot at Champs.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Being a part of VRDL over the last year and a bit. Being a part of this incredible team - working hard, working together, setting huge goals and achieving big things.

Off the track?
I've been lucky enough to have been given some awesome coaching opportunities lately - with Derbyfest and Camp Skate Riedell in particular. I enjoy coaching cause I get to share cool things with people. I also spend a good portion of my time making roller derby videos. I've made some silly VRDL videos for our Facebook page, as well as some serious videos for the team analysing our opponents. I always prefer being behind the camera!

Who are your derby heroes?
I watch a lot of derby and admire so many skaters for different things. Local skaters, men's skaters, skaters from top ranking teams. I should specifically mention Scald Eagle and Loren Mutch though. At jammer club we frequently talk about their moves and try to emulate them. I also look up to all my teammates who are superstars to me and inspire me all the time - they train just about every day, constantly work on things to try to get better, and are smart and creative.

What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I work as a group conferencing convenor - sort of like a mediator, I run meetings between young people who have committed offences and victims of their offences. I think my experience doing this job has helped me to deal with high pressure situations in derby in a calm way.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
Pretty much totally. I have traveled to so many places for derby that I never expected I would go. I moved cities for roller derby. I am constantly thinking about roller derby and can't imagine life without it.

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
My job is usually business hours, and I have always had very supportive employers who are willing to give me leave when I need it. Even though I've been involved in derby for a long time, I don't often feel like I need a break from it or that I am missing out on stuff in my "real life." Derby is my real life right now, and it's the best.

November 2015 Featured Skater: Christy Demons

Photo by Danny Ngan

What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby?
Do it! Everyone should play roller derby - it's really fun! Work hard, ask for feedback, skate outdoors, try everything, learn the rules, do things even if you think you can't.

Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
CHAMPS! The best of the best teams in the world coming together. I am so excited to play and watch and just be around that level of derby. My team have trained really hard coming up to Champs and I can't wait to see what we can do. It's hard to believe that Champs is finally here - what we've been working towards and focussing on for so long.

This will be your second year to WFTDA Championships: what lessons from last year's Championship have helped you prepare for this year?
Last year we wanted to go to Champs, but this year we had clear goals--we were planning for it right from the start, everything was focused on Champs, and there was no way we weren't gonna make it. So I think we're a lot more prepared this year - we have had extra training sessions, lots of scrimmages against our excellent men's team, and coaching from the experienced Mick Swagger. We've also studied our likely opponents and analysed their strengths and weaknesses more this year.

As a member of the only Australian team competing at Championships this year, as well as Team Australia, what does it feel like to again represent your home country in the international derby world?
It is the biggest honour to be able to represent Australia at Champs - it is definitely a responsibility I take seriously as I want to do my best and make all the Aussies proud of VRDL. We were also stoked to see SSRG make it to Playoffs this year. Big things to come for them - there may well be two Aussie teams at Champs next year!

Preparing for tournament play is stressful enough, but having to travel from the other side of world is a whole other thing! How do you prepare and manage the time change and stress of international travel before a big game?
I think it's just something you get used to. This will be our third trip to the USA within about 6 months. Everyone has their own little thing they do to deal with it, like taking sleeping tablets on the plane, bringing food from home to cook, sleeping in late, taking naps, or researching to find the best local coffee shop. We try to arrive in USA a couple of days before tournaments, and we usually have a warm up scrimmage to remind our bodies how to play roller derby.

You mentioned in an interview while on Team Australia that skating banked track derby was one of your most memorable experiences. What made the experience so endearing and did it give you some insight into your flat track skating skills?
The banked track was scary at first, and hard and different, but so fun! The main thing I loved was just being able to go fast and use the different angles of the track. I also liked learning the different ruleset and how it affects strategy. I would love to skate a banked track again if I had the opportunity. I am also drawn to ramp skating because I like going fast and jumping.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
A huge thank you. We have recently run a gofundme campaign and have received so many crazy generous donations. There is constantly so much love and support shown for VRDL every time we go to the USA - it is an incredible feeling knowing how much everyone is behind us. We know there will be a lot of watch parties and people getting up at ridiculous hours to watch us play (because of the time difference) - this means a lot to us and we are very grateful for the support.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
Thank you to Riedell, Radar, Bont, Spank Alley and S1 - my team and I couldn't play this sport without you. Literally. It would be impossible to afford everything!

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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.