June 2013 Featured Skater: Georgia W. Tush

June 10, 2013

After playing competitive and racing sports for most of her life, it’s not hard to see how Montréal Roller Derby’s, Georgia W. Tush found her place on the roller derby track wearing the jammer star! From founding Montréal Roller Derby and skating for Team Canada, to traveling the world teaching roller derby, to devoting her entire life to roller derby as a derby business owner, there isn’t much that this month’s featured skater doesn’t tackle head on, and with all her heart. Read on to learn more about multiple threat, Georgia W. Tush.

WFTDA Featured Skater: June 2013: Georgia W. Tush

Photo by Sean Murphy

What is your derby name? Georgia W. Tush

Please explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name.
I was studying political science at the time so I went for something political. I had a hunch that nobody would try to steal this name.

What is your number? 40 (Formerly 40oz)  

What is your home league? Montréal Roller Derby (MTLRD)

Which home team do you play for?
No home team currently, just the New Skids on the Block (Montréal’s WFTDA-chartered team). I used to play for Les Contrabanditas, one of MTLRD’s original home teams.

What is your skate gear of choice?
I wear a custom Riedell 495 boot with Reactor plate and Moonwalker toe stops. I use Kwik Swiss Nitride bearings with Radar Bullet wheels. I just started wearing an S-One Lifer helmet with a custom splatter paint design. I have ProDesigned knee pad and wrist guards…with a splatter paint design (heh), and Triple Eight EP22 junior elbow pads. I own a skate shop (WFTDA note: Tush owns Neon Skates), so I always have the opportunity to try out new products. But I'm pretty stoked on the products I am currently wearing.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
If our team going to Whole Foods and sports stores counts as a ritual, then yes! I probably shouldn’t admit this, but sometimes I also barf. Not on purpose! TMI? I get nervous!

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
Here we go again! Oh God, am I wearing the right wheels?

What is your motivational quote?
“You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.” – Robyn Benincasa (world champion adventure racer)

What is your theme song?
 Tush by ZZ Top 

Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
I have had plenty of derby moments. Some of my favourite moments are when my team is on the track and playing our best. It makes me feel like all of that hard work has paid off. Some of my other best derby moments are when I get a chance to play with friends and some of my favourite peeps in roller derby on pick-up teams, at scrimmages, or other mixed teams. Everyone is there to skate hard and have a good time. No pressure!

Some other noteworthy moments:

WFTDA Featured Skater: June 2013: Georgia W. Tush

Photo by Sean Murphy

You represented Canada in the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup. Wow! What was it like to represent your country in the first global roller derby tournament?
This was an absolute honour. It was exciting representing my country on our home turf. I know you guys could feel this at home, but the buzz and energy in that building was something I have never felt before. I get goose bumps when I think about it! So cool. 

During the World Cup tournament, you broke your collarbone and were unable to continue playing. How did you continue to support your team through the remainder of the tournament? What kind of lessons did you take away from that experience?
Womp womp. I refused to go to the hospital until we beat England in that same game. I also made sure to make it back so I could get my sweet, sweet medal. I managed to make it back before the final game started. I like to think I helped support my team by being annoying with a megaphone before the final game.

I didn’t learn many new skills during the tournament that I hadn’t known beforehand, but I like to think that we helped a lot of the skaters that did not have as much high level derby experience bring new skills back to their leagues and countries. I think that being injured, however, gave me that break I needed to heal (many minor injuries) and take the time to work on my basic skating skills. Not being able to skate for a few months really showed me how much I wanted it by the time I was game ready. It’s really important to not come back after any injury before your body is ready.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
I heard about roller derby happening in the United States, and immediately decided that I needed to join. That being said, I didn’t really know what it was, so I crept on teams’ MySpace pages (Minnesota RollerGirls—I’m talking about you here). I eventually got fed up and found some interest in Montréal after posting on message boards.

As the founder of Montréal Roller Derby, what were the initial challenges of starting a league in a new city and what are your biggest hopes for the league’s future?
When we started in 2006, it was challenging because we didn’t have the resources that leagues have now. We only had the historical roller_girls Yahoo group, and networking with other leagues. It took about a year to start playing, but luckily we didn’t have a hard time finding a fan base. Montréal warmed up to roller derby right away, and boy, are our fans passionate!

I would like to see Montréal Roller Derby get to the WFTDA Championships, and continue to be the top league in Canada. I always brag that our league has never split, so I would like to see our league continue to be a role model for other leagues.

WFTDA Featured Skater: June 2013: Georgia W. Tush

Photo by Sean Murphy

Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
We didn’t actually know how to play roller derby. We realized this when we attended a Boston Derby Dames’ bout eight months down the road (on the roller derby adventure). We figured it out about three years later. We also had a documentary crew follow us for the entire first year. There are plenty of embarrassing long lost tapes of us analyzing the television show Rollergirls, bitching, and roller skating somewhere.

What advice do you have for girls who want to join roller derby?
Learn how to skate first. I can’t imagine trying to figure this game out while being uncomfortable on my skates. 

As a skater who has been playing since 2006, what can you share about your experience of having to ensure your gameplay style evolves with the changes to the sport?
The game has changed a lot since I started. It is important for a veteran skater like me to evolve with the sport. Every year I work harder to keep up with the game on both a physical and mental level. I was 21 when I started, so I am still in my prime. It’s interesting how the “derby girl” has evolved, as well. In the beginning it was all about rock’n’roll, and now it’s about compression pants and the most effective cross training program.

Who are your derby heroes?
There are plenty of people I admire in roller derby including my own teammates, players who have retired, and tons of people currently playing. The short list would probably be Iron Wench, Rice Rocket, and Jackie Daniels. There are plenty more where they came from! I have a long list of people that I admire and respect for their skill, intelligence, and strength that they all bring to the track, but we don’t need to be here all day reading that list.

What is your position of choice?
I like being the skater that you can throw into any position. I think being a dynamic player is very important. 

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Small and tough…maybe throw in the word “awkward,” too. I’m pretty short at 5'3", but generally a strong person. Whenever I block I can think like a jammer, so that helps, in addition to being able to move through the pack pretty fast. I am also often talking and laughing while on the track.

What is your signature move?
Hmm…maybe being the player that will go out there when everybody else has run out of juice. Also, being a player that is hard to knock down.

WFTDA Featured Skater: June 2013: Georgia W. Tush

Photo by Sean Murphy

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I learned how to ice skate around the age of two or three. I started playing hockey at age five, but stopped after five years. I was then a competitive swimmer. I played a lot of individual racing sports so that whole jamming thing came pretty natural to me. I grew up in a city where there was access to tons of different sports. Saturday mornings, I remember waking up stupidly early for swim practice, and then after I would catch a ride to ski racing with frozen hair.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
The fact that I have survived seven years of roller derby is pretty exciting. My team has not been defeated in a full-length game by another Canadian team yet. It was also pretty fantastic being a member of Team Canada in 2011.   Off the track?
Making roller derby my life and opening up two skate shops called Neon Skates in Montréal, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario. My league was featured on the Rick Mercer Report a few years ago (on Canada’s national television network, CBC). That was exciting because he is one of Canada’s national treasures. Hmm…I guess both of those things are still roller derby related. I graduated from Concordia University with a double major in political science and history. I’m also lucky to have an awesome husband and two funny little dogs.

Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
I am excited to play Gotham Girls Roller Derby in August. It’s always a trip playing them, and we haven’t played them in a few years. We also have ECDX coming up, which is always a blast. You can watch all of the ECDX action at WFTDA.tv.

In the past few years, you have extended your coaching and leadership experience to help leagues around the world, including Europe and Brazil. What advice do you have for teams starting up in locations outside North America?
It’s really important to expose yourself to as much roller derby as possible. Watching games, traveling to derby events, and bringing players to you will help you figure out what the game is all about. I have always tried to help international roller derby grow, because I know how hard it was for us when we first started. I am so lucky to get the opportunity to help a lot of these leagues around the world. It is so inspirational seeing leagues all over the world and working so hard to build something that they are so passionate about from scratch. That is what this sport is all about.

WFTDA Featured Skater: June 2013: Georgia W. Tush

Photo by Sean Murphy

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
My involvement with roller derby has taken over about 90% of my life. That means that my derby brain is almost always on, and that can be exhausting. It’s always funny trying to explain my life to civilians.  Non-derby folk in my life get a kick out of it. I try to not bring up the “D” word first, but everyone else seems to be interested and asks me about it: “How's the rollerblading thing?”

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
I really try to turn it off when I am doing non-derby things. My husband and I just moved out of Montréal to the country this year. That is a great way to find balance, relax, and just hang out. We’ve started gardening, so now I have another fun hobby.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
It’s really cool how the Skids have been supported all over the world during the last few years. So, thanks for supporting us and we will continue to have annoying uniforms and hilarious antics! 

Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank Reidell for hooking me up with awesome gear and Marc the Shark for putting up with me.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.