September 2, 2014
This month's featured skater is turning heads as the "poster girl" for the D1 Playoffs in Sacramento, CA, as well as on the track as she represents Toronto, Canada in the D- playoffs September 19th-21st. Meet Dusty of Toronto Roller Derby.
What is your derby name?
My derby name is currently Dusty when I skate for Toronto, and Caitlin Watson when I skate for Team Canada.
Please explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name.
I have had MANY a derby name… DefeCaitlin, Dust Bunny, Lazy Susan and more! The one that stuck was Dusty, which was short for Dust Bunny. Honestly, I think nobody wanted to say DefeCaitlin on the news so yeah, I guess that was too gross for them.
What is your number? #2 (get it?)
What is your home league?
Toronto Roller Derby
Which team(s) do you play on?
I play for CN Power (our WFTDA charter team), and I also play for Team Canada but I started as a Gore-Gore Rollergirl (home team).
What is your skate gear of choice?
I guess it depends on what I’m doing. I street skate a lot and for that I love my Moxis. When playing derby I skate on custom 595’s, Love my S1 Helmet, and my 187 Pro derby knee pads, and most of all I have a new found love for GIANT toe stops. So I’m currently on Crazy Skates toe stops - the kind with the cut-out because my feet are too small to fit anything else without getting wheel bite!
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I like to relax as much as possible. I usually can’t really eat much on bout days, so most of the day is usually spent trying to eat and drink things. I also usually paint pink and silver lightning bolts coming out of my eyes. That ritual started at last year’s Playoffs.
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I guess I usually try to think of positive things, and visualize myself doing the impossibly amazing. I try and talk myself into believing that I’m going to have the best game of my life.
Do you have a theme song?
Not exactly but my team loves to jam out to a 10-hour loop of the Careless Whisper sax solo, and also the “Cops” theme song.
How did you get involved with roller derby?
I was lucky to attend the first public Canadian derby bout in Hamilton back in 2006. I basically harassed anyone who was wearing a derby shirt from Toronto to “let me in”. After harassing enough people I finally got a call from His Unholiness, the Reverend Ramirez, asking me to join the Gore-Gore Rollergirls for some practices and a tryout. This was in the days before we had fresh meat, and before drafting players was a thing. It was just like, “You’re cool and can do a crossover and we all live in Parkdale so you’re in!”
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I used to play hockey as a kid, and I suppose I dabbled in baseball, and some tennis. Nothing too serious though.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
I think my experience was much different to what new girls getting into the sport go through these days. After getting an invite to join the Gores at practice, where we basically skated around in dark parking lots or melted ice hockey rinks, they decided to have a “tryout” of sorts. We were interviewed and asked to do a crossover (which luckily I could do because of my hockey background) and a couple other basic moves. They called me soon after to tell me that I had made the team! The sport was new at this time, and none of us really knew what we were doing exactly. I remember we had someone from Detroit (Bella Go-Gosi) come up and help us learn the rules, and the minimum skills. It was very different back then.
What is your position of choice?
What is your signature move?
I have had to change all my moves this year because of the new rule set and gameplay strategies! So I would say my signature move for this season is being able to adapt. Previously, my signature moves were being fast and deeky (agile), but that just doesn’t get me everywhere I need to go anymore. Evolution and versatility is key.
How would you describe your derby playing style?
I am definitely not usually the big scorer superstar type jammer. I try to focus on being consistent and reliable. I really think this is what makes a skater invaluable, especially in the long haul. I like to focus on point spread and winning carefully rather than going for the glory and taking too many risks along the way.
Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
Definitely for me it was captaining my team (CN Power) last year and coming in to D1 Playoffs at the lowest ranked spot and being a relatively unknown team, and really bringing everything together to make a bold statement at last year’s Playoffs in Salem, Oregon. It was our first time ever making it to playoffs. Doing well and even beating some teams that nobody ever thought we would was a pretty proud moment for me and my team.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
About two years ago I completely tore my PCL in a game. I was out for 6 months, and the thought of coming back to the same level I was at was overwhelming. My biggest accomplishment was probably coming back from that injury and using it to make me a stronger player than before, despite the fear that it had instilled in me. I also really enjoyed landing a big hit on Wild Cherri while jamming against Atlanta at last year’s Playoffs, that felt pretty rad. Oh and any time I get to play for Team Canada!!
Off the track?
Off the track I usually take the role of “team motivator.” I like to try to get everyone’s head in the game before our bouts, and make sure everyone is feeling strong, confident and together. My experiences as a captain has helped shaped this role. I like to think that this has made a difference for my teammates and myself.
Who are your derby heroes?
I don’t really have derby “heroes” exactly. I try not to idolize other skaters that I consider my peers and competitors. However, there are a TON of skaters that I respect immensely for their skill and dedication to the sport.
What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I own a screenprinting/merch business called Sugarbomb with my teammate Panty Hoser. We work a lot with the derby community, and actually started the business making derby armbands. Working for yourself has really allowed me to take derby to the next level. Let’s just say I’m always available for games! Haha.
When you're not on the track you dabble in your creative side, including helping run your custom derby apparel and silk screen shop, Sugarbomb, with teammate Panty Hoser. What has your experience been as a derby business?
I love it. I love being my own boss, I love being a part of the derby community. I love getting my hands dirty with all the screen printing equipment, and getting to be creative and most of all, I love that I am so lucky that I have the luxury to blur the lines between derby and ‘real’ life.
How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
I think for me the biggest part it has affected is the idea that I can be a good leader and teammate, and the things I learned being in that role. When I first joined derby, I was probably about 22, with no concept of being in charge of anything or being motivational, or even really skilled at any one thing in particular. I somehow managed to captain my home team the Gores for 5 years and our travel team for 2. The lessons I’ve learned from being put in that role have taught me some of the most important lessons in confidence, motivation and the power of positive thinking that I could have ever learned.
How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
It’s all real life to me! Put the things that are most important to you first.
What advice do you have for girls who want to join roller derby?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of failure. Be patient, it’s not going to happen overnight. Also, I can’t stress the importance of this enough: its not all about you, this is a team sport, your team needs you and you need your team, so be understanding of that.
Congratulations on being drafted to Team Canada this year for the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup! How did you prepare for tryouts and what has it been like to play with the very best skaters across the country?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to try out. I debated it for a long time, as I had a lot on my plate at the time. I was captain of our team and just starting a new business. But I decided to just put myself out there at tryouts, give it my best, and if that wasn’t good enough then I would just have more to work on for next time! I had the honor of being picked for the team, and it has been an AMAZING experience so far. I’m so excited to play with them in Dallas at World Cup. I played a game with them last month in Montreal against Windy, and it was such a great game. The team is very organized and the depth of skill is insane. That game really helped reality sink in. Before I had played for the team, I got really nervous every time I looked at my uniform. After playing my first game with them i finally felt really proud and comfortable in my uniform. Now I look at it all the time! ;)
How does it feel to be the "poster girl" for the D1 Playoffs in Sacramento, CA and seeing yourself in ads?
Its UNREAL! I always wonder why you guys picked me! Haha. Seriously though, I’m super honored to represent roller derby’s strong athletic values. I’m very proud to be a part of that history.
The Toronto Roller Derby CN Power All-Stars will be competing in Evansville September 19-21 in the international 2014 WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs. What are some of the teams that you are looking forward to playing/watching? How are you preparing for tournament play?
Well its pretty funny because we have played most of the teams in our bracket this season already! We play Windy first so that has been a major focus for us. Aside from Texas, Arizona, and Houston, we have played all the other teams before. This can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage. But we're not playoff rookies anymore and we're up to the challenge!
Do you have a special message to your fans?
I have FANS?!?! Haha “hi!"
Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
YES! I’m very excited to play in the D1 Playoffs in Evansville with my team! I’m not sure but this may be my last season in derby. I’m also very excited to play at the World Cup in Dallas this coming December!
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
Yes, I would like to thank my boyfriend Joel Ramirez (my former coach, His Unholiness, the Reverend Ramirez), who has always pushed me to the next level. He is the most supportive person I have ever met, and really goes out of his way every day to make sure I’m the best person I can possibly be. He convinces me that I can do things that I probably can’t, and makes them come true. I really probably wouldn’t have even gone to my second derby practice if it weren’t for him, nor would I have tried out for Team Canada. I’ve seen him do the same for countless numbers of skaters here in Toronto and all over Canada. Seriously THANK YOU JOEL for always pushing me and believing in me!!!!
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.