October 1, 2014
Where can we even start with this month's featured skater? Between skating for WFTDA Champions Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Team USA, serving as a WFTDA Chairperson, and running two skate businesses, there's a reason she leaves everyone saying: OMG WTF!
What are your derby name and number? OMG WTF - 10
Even though the world of roller derby knows you as OMG WTF, you are now skating under your legal last name, Flowers. What prompted the change and what has the impact had on your fans?
This is such a popular question! At the start of this season I had the opportunity to skate under the number 10, which was my number all growing up while playing soccer, so I jumped on it. I had been contemplating changing to my real name about a year ago when I made Team USA. Representing my country I wanted to be known as my family name, not by a made up name.
What is your home league?
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Which team(s) do you play on? Gotham Girls Roller Derby All Stars, Team USA Roller Derby
What is your position of choice? Blocker
How would you describe your derby playing style?
I consider my derby playing style to fall into the glue category. I like to make sure all of my big hitters come back to me on the track so we can build walls.
What is your signature move?
My strength is in backwards blocking, and my signature move happens when you least expect it.
What is your skate gear of choice?
I skate on my Brooklyn Skate Co boots, Roll Line Energy plates, Bones bearings, and either Atom wheels or Rollerbones Turbo wheels! For protective gear I wear 187 pads, and I just purchased my first hockey helmet with face shield since I broke my nose at the WFTDA D1 Playoffs in Sacramento.
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Since nearly all of the games I play are away games, my pre-bout ritual starts before I ever leave New York. I have a packing list printed out of everything I will need while away for a game, so I don't go through the stress of thinking I forgot something. Once I am at a bout and warming up, I like to make a point of bringing my team together after we've done our off skates warm up and do a cheer, to start getting us into game mode.
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
While I'm lacing up my skates, gearing up for the game, I'm usually thinking about the first jam of the game and playing it out in my head. When I step out onto the track nothing feels new or foreign, even playing against a team I've only had the opportunity to watch.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
My pre-derby sports background doesn't include any skating. I grew up playing soccer, and running track and cross country. I played soccer through college at Cal State University Fullerton. Once I learned how to skate backwards in 2011/12 I became much more comfortable on skates, and I felt more like I was playing soccer. All of those years working on my soccer footwork is paying off!
How did you get involved with roller derby?
I got involved with roller derby mid 2008 while I was living in Montreal. I had a few friends skating for Montreal Roller Derby, that discovered I used to play soccer growing up, they quickly recruited me to come out to some practices, and the rest was history. I ended up managing one of the teams, La Racaille my first season, which was a great introduction to roller derby. I would go skate during the day to work on my own skating skills, and then help coach La Racaille in the evening. By the end of 2008, I had decided I wanted to move back to the US and did a little investigation to see which teams were the top teams in roller derby. Gotham Girls Roller Derby in New York was the closest and seemed the most challenging at the time since they had just won't the 2008 WFTDA National Championship, so I packed my bags and headed to NY.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
My rookie season was really challenging, it had it's ups and downs. I had moments of defeat when I thought that I was being asked to do the impossible i.e.: hockey stops, jamming for the first time in front of 1000 people. But then there were those moments that inspired me to want to push myself further and further. I was so fortunate to come into Gotham when I did, I had the dream team of coaches. I got the tail end of Cheapskate being with the league, Beyonslay, Kandy Kakes, Bonnie Thunders, Ginger Snap, Fisti Cuffs, Suzy Hotrod, Sweet Sherry Pie... the list goes on. This league was so good at teaching the basics and giving me a foundation to explore my own potential, I felt like I was set up to succeed.
Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
My favorite derby moment so far in my career was the conclusion to my 2011 season. In 2011 I captained the Brooklyn Bombshells and was able to lead them to their first and only league title. The sense of accomplishment from seeing every single person on my team working hard and putting in the effort to come home with a victory was truly an amazing feeling. Then one week later the All Star team took back the Hydra after taking down Rocky Mountain, Texas, and the Oly Rollers.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Some of my greatest accomplishments on the track actually happened during the WFTDA D1 Playoff in Sacramento. I was really happy with my minutes on the track to minutes in the box ratio. Sometimes it can be hard to adjust your style of play to a certain officiating style, but I was happy with my ability to do that over that weekend.
Off the track?
Behind the scenes of roller derby my favorite accomplishment was being a part of the small working group that changed the way we rank teams and introduced divisions and the rankings calculator. Since the introduction of divisions and a member-wide ranking system, our Playoff tournaments have been exciting to watch from 10am on Friday of every tournament through 8pm Sunday of every tournament.
Who are your derby heroes?
Bonnie Thunders, Gotham Girls, for her dedication to the sport on and off the track. She is by far the most consistent skater in all of roller derby. She's constantly pushing skaters and teams to create new strategies, learn new skills, and dream of being in her skates. The hard work she puts into every single practice is inspiring, and she pushes me to be better when sometimes I just wanted to give up. And Tony Muse, Des Moines Derby Dames, for introducing a completely different style of blocking for us smaller skaters. Both of these skaters have showed me that I don't have to be a big hitter to be successful and useful on the track.
What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
In my day job, I co-own Five Stride Skate Shop and Brooklyn Skate Co with Bonnie Thunders. At Five Stride, I have the joy of helping guide new and veteran skaters through their gear buying process. With Brooklyn Skate Company, I feel like I'm really being given an opportunity to make a positive impact on the sport of roller derby by being innovative and bringing the skaters perspective to the table when designing products.
How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
I'm pretty sure I will be using a walker a little sooner then I would have without it.
How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
This year I made an effort to have a "real" life, but then it started conflicting with derby, so I had to drop it. I have to settle for only having one day to myself without roller derby, so I make sure that I cherish every moment and I make special effort to keep in touch with the friends that aren't involved with roller derby. Having other interests makes roller derby better.
It seems like there is nothing you can't handle: from being GGRD Vice President to a WFTDA Tournaments Chairperson, it seems like leadership is a natural role for you. What is your advice to skaters who want to get more involved in their league or in the WFTDA? How do you strike the balance?
My biggest advice to skaters wanting to take on leadership roles in the their league or in the WFTDA is to make sure to pencil in some non derby time too.
Congratulations on your recent MVP award and the GGRD taking 1st place at the 2014 D1 Playoffs in Sacramento, CA! What were someone of the highlights of that weekend you could share?
One of the highlights for me in Sacramento came when our team felt like it was in a pretty dark time, when we lost one of our teammates to an injury. It was great to see the team step up that weekend to fill the big shoes that were left open.
Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
My next upcoming bouts are at the WFTDA Championship tournament in Nashville. This tournament is always the one that every team works for all year long, so qualifying for it feels amazing.
You have had just a little experience with competing at Championships. What has past experience taught you to anticipate and what are you most looking forward to this year?
This will be my fourth Championship tournament to compete in and every year I remind myself of the same thing: tournament play is the one time where your team's past record, success, or failure doesn't matter. When you start a bout, the playing field is level, anyone can come out on top. This is what fuels my team and me to keep pushing harder.
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
I'd like to thank Bonnie Thunders for supporting me through all the good times and tough times. And all of my non-derby friends for understanding roller derby and still supporting me even though I've disappeared more and more over the years. Gina Marie and Lian, I'm looking at you!
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.