June 2012 Featured Skater: Diamond Rough

June 7, 2012

We all know that roller girls are multi-talented creatures, but this ice skating, hockey and rugby playing, baker of yummy treats takes the cake. Literally! From blogging about her culinary exploits to attempting to skate a Red Bull Crashed Ice event, there doesn’t seem to be anything this skater won’t try! As captain of the Minnesota RollerGirls’ Atomic Bombshells home team, and a force on the All-Stars, she uses her fierce blocking and her loud voice to help her teams! Read on to learn more about the Minnesota fans’ favorite blocker, Diamond Rough.

Derby name: Diamond Rough

Number: 1837

Home league: Minnesota RollerGirls

Home team you play for:
The Atomic Bombshells, the most vivacious and talented women out there.

What is your roller derby position of choice?
Blocker/Pivot – you’ll most often see me wearing the pivot stripe.

What is your skate gear of choice?
Dirty Larry at Derby 4 All is always there for me to tell me what I need. I have custom purple gator skin Riedell skates that I love. All of the Minnesota RollerGirls’ All-Stars have aqua Zuca bags that we bring with us on every trip, and they even have special inserts for all of your odds and ends and a seat for those long airport delays.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I don’t have too many rituals or superstitions; you’re only setting yourself up to be thrown off if things don’t go right. I like to hide out a little bit in the morning and have a good breakfast. After that, I pack up and check and re-check that I have both my light and dark jersey for All-Star games.

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I try to think of a goal for that practice/game. I have long-term goals for myself as well as short-term goals; I’m imagining what I need to do to get closer to achieving them.

Do you have a motivational quote?
My absolute favorite quote comes from one of the first ladies of women’s wrestling, Penny Banner aka Mary Ann Kostecki (who was originally trying out for roller derby when she was discovered in 1952). She said, “if I had known how good I was, I would have been great.” The moment I heard this, it stopped me in my tracks. I know so many talented women who doubt themselves; they turn out to be their own toughest competitor. The more you believe and trust in yourself, the stronger you will become!

Do you have a theme song?
“I Like it Rough” by Lady Gaga? Don’t judge too much, I’m half joking.

What is your favorite derby moment?
There have been so many, but everyone says that, right? The past two seasons of making it to the WFTDA Championships, especially in 2010 when many predicted we would lose our first game at the North Central Region Playoffs, were momentous occasions. Being voted favorite blocker this year by the Minnesota fans was something I’ll always be proud of.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
During my senior year of college I heard about it on the radio (on MPR’s The Current, which is a fabulous sponsor of ours). My rugby friends and I went to check it out and I thought, “I want to do that!” That summer after graduation I went to a recruit practice and felt ill-prepared to try out, so I backed out. Two years down the road I decided to take another stab at it. Initially I didn’t make the cut after tryouts and signed on to boot camp to be a referee. After a few months of working really hard with all of the other recruits, they offered to put me in the draft pool and I made a team. I’m thankful for this experience because I never take a moment of practice for granted and I always want to be better.

Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
My rookie year I had fabulous captains who dedicated a lot of time to teaching me everything they know. Misfit Maiden, who now skates for Hawaii’s Pacific Roller Derby and Mitzi Massacre (still shining with MNRG) were patient and tough. We also scrimmaged the All-Stars from time to time, which was always SO exciting. I watched as much roller derby as I could and went to play with the boys, the Twin City Terrors, any time they would have me.

Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Skate! Skate as often as you can and with anyone who will skate with you. Do things you’re uncomfortable with and repeat. If you want to play roller derby, you have to work hard. Skate on days there isn’t practice and when you’re at practice, participate to your fullest ability, people will notice.

How did you choose your derby name?
Diamond Rough comes from the phrase “Diamond in the rough,” and my experience as a rookie. While I seemed a little unpolished around the edges, a bit of shining and care helped me stand out. I know it’s a little cheesy, but that’s okay with me.

Who are your derby heroes?
Beyonslay was absolutely my first roller derby hero. I’ve never had the chance to play against her, but I always enjoyed watching her play. I’m lucky to skate with so many women who push me to be better each day. Second Hand Smoke is an inspirational All-Star teammate and she keeps our level of intensity on high at every practice, I adore her.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
I would say that it is intense, focused, and communicative (a nice word for loud).

Do you have a signature move?
Hitting someone out with my rear end and going into a spread eagle was a good one. But I’ve had to lay off of it since people can jump back on the track so quickly, there’s less time for that spread eagle. Now it’s more about planting your behind into that jammer’s stomach and moving with her wherever she goes.

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I’ve always played sports, but the progression to derby is as follows: dance (very young age), figure skating, hockey, rugby and then roller derby. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and when my sisters and I were little, my parents would flood the backyard in the winter and we could skate whenever we wanted. As soon as I could walk, they gave me a folding chair to push around on the ice. My parents were very supportive (thanks, Pete and Connie!) and encouraged me through it all.

Was your hockey and rugby background more of a help or a hindrance when it came to learning roller derby strategy? What are some of the major similarities and differences?
My experiences with hockey and rugby have helped me in roller derby immensely. I take some of the same theories and use them with my home team. Coming into this sport I was already comfortable with full contact (rugby was full contact with no padding). I also knew the importance of falling small and what it was like to be a member of a team. My stride was a little funny for a long time due to hockey, but it’s something I’ve really improved over the past two seasons.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Going to WFTDA Championships with the All-Stars twice and winning the Golden Skate (our home championship) with the Bombshells.

Photo by Chad

Off the track?
The relationships I’ve formed with these awesome women. I can’t imagine my life without this community.

MNRG recently held its annual "Wheelies" awards ceremony, and we heard you took home a lot of them! Congratulations! How are Wheelie recipients selected? Can you tell us what Wheelies you had the honor of receiving?
Our league’s annual awards are chosen in three different ways – there are statistical, fan-voted and league-voted awards. Statistically, I was the best pivot/blocker and had the best attendance. My home team voted me MVP, which was incredibly touching. And the Minnesota fans chose me as their favorite pivot/blocker. It feels great to work as hard as I have and see these payoffs.

We understand that you were selected to participate in the Red Bull Crashed Ice event this past January in St. Paul. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about what this event is and how you qualified for it? Is it true that you were one of only four women at the St. Paul event? What happened to your skate that prevented you from competing?
Red Bull approached the league, asking if any of us were willing to try out to skate in the Crashed Ice. My teammate, Hurtrude Stein, and I jumped at the chance. Before we knew it (after a month of going from ice rinks, directly to derby), we found ourselves perched atop the most challenging track made of ice in the world. On my first attempt down, my Tuk (similar to your plates on your derby skates) shattered and I looked down to see my blade hanging from my skate. I hurried to get a pair of skates from a friend, but imagine wearing your teammate’s skates in the most challenging game you’ve ever played, it would be like that. After a few more attempts, I threw in the towel. Three other fabulous women attempted to conquer it and impressed the heck out of me. Growing up on ice skates, I still didn’t have the chops to come close to dominating this thing. These extreme athletes would blow your mind.

You’ve been selected to be a co-captain of one of MNRG's four home teams, the Atomic Bombshells. Congratulations! How many years have you been a captain of this team? Can you please talk about some of the similarities and differences between your role on the Bombshells and your role on the All-Star team?
This will be my third season captaining the Atomic Bombshells. It has given me the tools to help and encourage newer members of the All-Star team. While someone may not feel comfortable asking how something works in a large group setting, we can talk about it on the side and get them where they need to be. I also have a VERY loud voice and sometimes my All-Star captains use it to communicate what we’re doing, I don’t mind at all. The only difference is that I don’t have to show up with the practice plan, I can come to practice, skate my heart out, and go home and go to sleep.

You are known for being a solid, effective blocker, often playing the pivot position for the MNRG All-Star team. To what do you attribute this skill set? How have you developed your pivot skills in your years of derby?
I think a big advantage is that I can see clearly in pretty stressful situations. The ability to assess everything that’s happening on and off the track is important as well as being able to communicate what you see and what you need. This comes from playing for four years, watching other teams play, and being a naturally communicative (again, loud) person.

You're starting your fifth season skating with MNRG. Can you talk a bit about how much roller derby has changed during this time, especially with regards to practice structure, strategy, and overall athletic competition (and anything else you have noticed)?
We all start on the jammer line right now. But in addition to that, there’s less focus on big hits and more on working together and positional blocking, although I still love giving and receiving big hits. Practice structure is the same, except the All-Stars now have longer and more intense practices. The fitness of the entire league is very high. Without being too roller derby political, there’s this need to understand several types of play, some that include not moving/skating and others where everyone skates their hearts out for the entire 60 minutes of the bout. I just know that I must understand and be comfortable with all styles in order to win games. I’m so Minnesotan with that polite critique, right?

We’ve heard that you like to jump into frozen lakes every year for charity. Yowza! Can you tell us more about this, how it started, and what charity you are supporting?
YES! We jump in a frozen lake with a large hole cut out of it every winter for Special Olympics Minnesota. It only stings for a second, but afterwards you feel great. If they have this in your area, do it!

We keep seeing pictures of you on what looks like the cover of a romance novel. What is this all about? (Congratulations on your recent marriage!)
That was our wedding invitation; it was a mock romance novel. The RSVP card was a library return card on the inside, and we had a little too much fun making them. You may have seen my shirtless husband with a letter painted on his chest at Championships or Region Playoffs, he’s awesome. I’m over-the-top happy to be married to Chad.

In addition to your fierce on track skills, you are known for being a wonderful cook and baker of many delicious treats, especially gorgeous cupcakes and cakes. How did this cakey-creativity come about?
This came from my mother. My mother was always the baker of the family and she has recently handed over all of her supplies to me. She even made a few wedding cakes for family members (I’ve done wedding cupcakes for a teammate). I think she’s hoping I’ll completely take over the entertainment department for her.

How and when do your baking and your roller derby collide? Are there opportunities to try your tasty treats for those of us who don’t skate for MNRG or know you personally? Do you share your recipes?
If you come to Minnesota, I’ll make you something. It’s always been just for fun, but anything I make will end up at practice. Call ahead and I’ll make you some roller skate cookies. I do have a blog for recipes, but with all of this roller derby, I’ve been pretty delinquent with it: http://ganachedarnit.blogspot.com.

Photo by Zack Swanson

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
Without a doubt, it has. I take care of myself more, so I can be better at roller derby. I (try) to get more sleep for roller derby. It is an area of life where hard work produces results.

What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
My day job doesn’t have much to do with roller derby other than I work for a surgeon. Roller girls need surgeons, so that would be the only connection ;).

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
I enjoy thinking of “real” life as derby more and more. But balancing these two worlds is tricky and having supportive people around you is key. I have family that supports me and for that I feel lucky.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
Thank you and please keep coming to see us! Check out the Minnesota RollerGirls’ website!

Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank my husband, Chad, for being my biggest supporter and traveling all over the country with me. Also, my parents, for all of those figure skating lessons, I hope I make you proud. Lastly, my teammates who push me and make me laugh every day. I love you all!

Thank you to WFTDA for this honor and for allowing me to travel all over, doing what I love!

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.