August 2012 Featured Skater: Luce Bandit

August 9, 2012

Though she spends most of her time off the track studying for her degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas, on the track she’s making history as one of the first junior roller derby graduates to make the successful leap to a WFTDA league. Luce Bandit joined the Tucson Derby Brats at sixteen and now skates with the Texas Rollergirls and shares the rewards and challenges of making the leap to the big leagues. Learn more about Luce Bandit!

Derby name: Luce Bandit

Number: 33

Home league: I currently play for the Texas Rollergirls. I have also skated with Tucson Roller Derby and, prior to that, the Tucson Derby Brats.

Home team you play for: Hell Marys and the WFTDA-chartered Texecutioners.

What is your roller derby position of choice?
Currently, my favorite is blocking. I've enjoyed jamming in the past and still jam at practice because it keeps me sharp as a blocker.

What is your skate gear of choice?
My gear is a hodgepodge of brands. I love my Riedell 195s and Atom Omegas. My skates were love at first sight but they have seen better days and I'm in desperate need of an upgrade.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Not really. Mostly I just like to sit in the locker room and zone out because all of the waiting before bouts makes me jittery.

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
Nothing terribly important or profound. I try to only focus on the actual task of lacing up my skates. I try not to worry about things I can't control...only what I can control, and step one is adjusting my skates.

Do you have a motivational quote?
I don't know that it is motivational per se but one of my favorite sports quotes is “Practice makes permanent, not perfect.”

Do you have a theme song?
I don't. I'm pretty clueless when it comes to music.

What is your favorite derby moment?
That's difficult! To date, my favorite derby moment is winning 3rd place at the 2011 WFTDA Championships.

What was your first exposure to roller derby? And what made you want to play?
My first exposure to derby is similar to many peoples' first exposures. A friend took me to see a game (Tucson Saddletramps Black vs. Tan, I think). Less than five minutes into the game, I knew that derby was awesome and that I wanted to play.

You started playing roller derby with the Tucson Derby Brats when you were sixteen years old. Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
I joined derby lacking any skating skills. My experience with skating was limited to a few birthday parties here and there and a handful of figure skating classes when I was 10 or so. Needless to say, learning to play roller derby meant a lot of time falling while I learned how to skate. Learning how to play roller derby with the derby brats was just like learning to play in any other league. We did skating skill drills, strategy drills, and scrimmaged. I'd like to say I learned quickly but I actually have no real sense of how long it took for me to learn how to skate and to learn how to play derby.

You are derby famous for having been the first skater to graduate from junior roller derby to senior, WFTDA roller derby. In your experience, what are the benefits and challenges of playing junior roller derby before entering a WFTDA league? What advice do you have for girls making the move up from a junior league?
I think there are pretty much just benefits to playing for a junior league prior to entering a WFTDA league. Because junior derby forces skaters to rely primarily on positional blocking, it is a fantastic way to build a sense of where to be on the track and to develop positional blocking skills. The only challenge I really found skating-wise in moving from a junior league to a WFTDA league was remembering to watch for people coming to blind side you. The advice I have for girls moving up from a junior league is the same as for any skater – work hard.

Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Go for it! Joining derby is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The community is amazing and the game is a lot of fun.

How did you choose your derby name?
I wanted to use the name Luce because it is the name of my favorite character from one of my favorite movies ("Imagine Me & You"). I was playing for a western themed team at the time that I chose it, thus the bandit part.

Who are your derby heroes?
I think the word hero is kind of an odd word. I have endless respect for my teammates.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
I would say that my derby playing style is largely positional. I rely on timing and being in the right place. I am a very opportunistic player.

Do you have a signature move?
For the Texecutioners, I pivot frequently and find myself as the last line of defense – so, I would say, maybe going one-on-one with the jammer at the front of the pack.

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I played soccer for years, including playing competitively for several years.

You have a reputation for being one of the fastest skaters in your league. Wow! What advice would you give to other skaters about how to train for speed on the track?
In my opinion, the best way to train for speed is to attend speed skating practices. We are lucky enough to have an amazing speed coach (Sonny Felter) in Austin. I saw drastic and rapid improvement in my speed after learning better form. It's all about form. And endurance. Though mostly form.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Making it onto the Texecutioners and getting to compete in high level derby games.

Off the track?
Raising a (mostly) good puppy while playing derby and maintaining Dean's list level academic performance in engineering.

In 2011, you really racked up the Texas Rollergirls' “Whammy” awards, earning Pivot of the Year, MVP for the Texas Rollergirls and Best Jammer for the Hell Marys. Congratulations! What do you think makes you such a versatile asset to your team(s) on the track?
Thank you! I'm still blown away. I don't think I really possess any unique qualities that make me particularly versatile. I think blocking and jamming are very closely related and if you can do one well, learning to do the other well just requires some practice in shifting perspective and focus.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
Joining derby really helped bring me out of my shell. While I would not say I'm particularly loud or outspoken, I think derby has helped me to access a quiet undercurrent of strength and confidence.

We understand that you’re attending the University of Texas. What do your classmates and professors think about your roller derby career? Do they know you are a Texecutioner and Hell Mary?
I am currently pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Some of my classmates know that I play derby but don't really understand how big derby is. I'm just another student.

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
I have always found that if you want something badly enough, you will make time for it. That being said, I am lucky to have a wonderful supportive girlfriend who also plays roller derby, otherwise it would be more difficult to balance everything.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
The idea of having fans is kind of overwhelming... I'm humbled whenever a fan seeks me out.

Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank my teammates for being amazing skaters and friends, and my family for being so supportive.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.