June 10, 2016
Satan's Little Helper has been competing in contact sports from a very young age, so when she found roller derby in 2007 it seemed like a natural choice for her combination of skills and athleticism. Skating today with the Angel City Derby Girls, Satan's Little Helper has not only made a name for herself on the track with her dominating skills, but also off the track through her coaching and personal training. Learn more about our June featured skater, Satan's Little Helper.
Name: Raquel Davila/Satan's Little Helper
League: Angel City Derby Girls
Team(s): Angel City Hollywood Scarlets
Year you started roller derby: February 2007
How did you get involved with roller derby?
I was first introduced to Roller Derby by my older sister who helped start Detroit Roller Derby. I wanted to try jamming the first time I watched the sport being played. Not long after that I saw a poster of a small group of girls starting up a WFTDA inspired league in my city at the time, Toledo, OH. Being a young teen, I was thankfully able to purchase my first pair of skates and gear using my tax return. I remember my first time lacing up with the the Glass City Rollers.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
Before derby I didn't skate too much outside of Friday night skate night at the roller rink. I did play sports though. I was born into a soccer family so I started playing at age three, with my Mom and Dad coaching my team. I also competed in swimming, sprints of course. Later, I fell in love with track and field. I ran the 100M, 200M, 400M, and 4x1M relay. Lastly, basketball was added to my bag of sports, playing as point guard.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
Practice practice practice. Falling was the norm. I was no pro at skating so I would mostly run on my toe stops, which could be part of the reason I am now so comfortable on my toestops. I remember my first tournament I attended as a spectator. I had my jaw hanging open in disbelief of the skaters' bravery. I remember being nervous for them. There were definitely moments of self doubt. I wondered if I was strong enough to play this sport. But the relationships I had formed within my league are what kept me going. I remember my first game was against Pittsburgh, Steel City's B team. I felt as if I were going into war.
What is your skate gear of choice?
This year I'm going Mota all the way. Free Style carbon fiber boots, light weight Boss Plates with clip axles. It feels like they're a part of my body. When it comes to protective gear I love S-One's knee pads. Slim, protective, well made. I also go with the S-One helmet of course.
Do you have a pre-game ritual?
I like to put on some good tunes, and do some visualizing. I close my eyes and imagine everything going the way I'd like it to. I also try and give some motivational pep talks/visualization tools to any teammates that might need it that day. Derby's such a team sport, we gotta have everyone in the right head space in order to make things happen.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
I love Muhammad Ali for his confidence and bravery. Here's a few of my favorite quotes from him: "Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even." - Muhammad Ali
"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them--a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." - Muhammad Ali
“I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.” - Muhammad Ali
Do you have a theme song?
I like to listen to anything that's upbeat and has the sound of what confidence means to me. It is very important to have confidence when going into a game. It's always changing and a variety of genres but right now I like "Watch out" by 2 Chainz.
What is your position of choice?
My favorite position to play is Jammer. But I LOVE blocking. Someday I hope to have the opportunity to do both.
How would you describe your derby playing style? Do you have a signature move?
I tend to be a pretty tricky jammer. Inspired by martial arts, derby really gives me the opportunity to practice transferring energy. Using the force around you to help rather than fight against it. Which is why you may see me doing lots of spin moves. however I recognize when it's appropriate to use penetrating destructive energy. So a combination of stealth and strength sums up my skating style.
Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
Some of my best derby moments were back when I played banked track in Phoenix, AZ. I was a "Coffin Dagger" (one of Arizona Derby Dames' home teams) from 2010-2013. We won three consecutive championship games and remained undefeated for two of those three seasons. This was derby at its best for me. Everyone was on board working as a well oiled machine. My captain Lora Stabs (who now skates with Sacred City Derby Girls in Sacramento, CA) brought the mental game awareness to the team. Her leadership and pregame speeches were full of derby passion. There I learned some valuable sports lessons that I still hold close to my heart today.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Some of my personal greatest achievements on the track are every moment that I've continued to fight when the cards aren't in my favor. When I push through a hard situation. These are accomplishments we all face on a weekly basis.
Off the track?
Roller derby has definitely helped me accomplish a lot off of the track. Derby helped me quit smoking cigarettes. It has inspired me to eat well and be good to my body so I can be a more efficient skater. It's also taught me to be strong and confident in all aspects of life.
You utilize a variety of things to help cross-train, from yoga to Zumba! What are some of the benefits you've experienced from cross training and what tips do you have for other skaters?
Cross training is important. Anything you do outside of skating will help you in derby. As long as you are pushing yourself past your limit, you will grow. It will help you be more aware of your body and how it's feeling under pressure. Try and be aware of your breath while doing any physical activity, try and keep it controlled. The more time you spend with your body the more aware you will be of what it needs. Anything you can do will be great—swim, climb, run, stretch, jump. Appreciate your body and what you have.
What has roller derby taught you about pushing your limits, either physically or mentally?
Roller derby has taught me so much about pushing my limits. It's taught me that no matter how tired you are, you can always keep going, you can always go harder than what you think your hardest is. Being challenged on the track has forced me to research and learn more about the mental aspect of sports. These physical and mental gains I've learned from derby help me in the work place and while competing in Crossfit. It's taught me how to remain calm in the highest pressure situations.
What have of the toughest losses of your career taught you?
I've learned a lot from the games I didn't win. If you want to continue to improve as an athlete it's important to take a loss and see what needs work for next time. View it as an opportunity to observe the things that might need attention. Then make a plan to improve those things. I think it's good to lose sometimes to keep you on your toes, keep you working your hardest. When I fail it makes me want to work harder so I don't have to feel that way again. Also this is a team sport and although losing is no fun, it's never one person's fault, or one moment that caused the loss. So I try and keep my head up.
Who are your derby heroes?
As I mentioned already my old captain Lora Stabs, who always believed in me and knew exactly what to say to bring the best skater out if me. Her determination is so admirable to me. Also my teammate Ima Blowbya is one of my biggest derby heroes. How she manages working a full time job, raising two wonderful boys, and driving from Bakersfield to Los Angeles to kill it at practice every week is beyond me. She is full of fire, passion, and determination. She makes me want to work harder.
You started playing roller derby in the early days of the sport, essentially growing with it to its modern form. What are your thoughts on the sport as it has evolved, and where do you see roller derby in the coming years?
I started playing roller derby in the early days, you know back when it was cigarettes, booze, fish nets and punk rock shows. Fishnets used to actually be a selling point to try and get fans at the games. It's evolved in a beautiful way. It's almost like the sport is evolving with women. Growing stronger and stronger. We don't have to dress a certain way to play a contact sport. The athleticism and hard work is enough. I've always liked derby for the competitiveness, not to be cute on roller skates. Although that's inevitable. I'm happy to have grown and changed with the sport. I see derby continuing to grow and gain fans. I like to think the athletes now will forever be remembered in the history of derby.
What is your job outside of roller derby? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I work to support my Derby habit as a Server in a high energy fast paced restaurant. I'm proud to have been with Night Market Song for a while now. It's a very popular family-owned restaurant in L.A. serving incredible Thai street food. Working in this high pressure environment definitely complements my Derby performance. It helps me remain calm and focused no matter what's going on.
How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life? How do you find a balance between your derby life and "real" life?
Playing roller derby has affected how I live the rest of my life. It's made me view each day as being precious. Being healthy and able to skate or do any other active activity is the most important thing to me. So I'm going to appreciate every day that I'm able to do that. It's a balance though. I have to work really hard in order to play all the derby. Work hard, play hard, as my Dad taught me. It requires constant scheduling skill.
You have helped to coach skaters of all ages from around the world! What advice do you have for coaches of teams to encourage, challenge and mentor their skaters?
One simple, but important thing is try and say what you want them TO do instead of telling them what NOT to do. The brain doesn't know dos and don'ts. It will follow whatever picture you paint. There's always a positive way of giving direction. If you say "don't take the lines," that's exactly what they're going to do. Instead say "stay middle." Instead of saying "don't get penalties" say the alternative, "stay clean." It takes some practice but easily becomes habit.
What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby?
I think everyone deserves to play roller derby, there's nothing else like it. It will help you grow as a person and give you an experience of a lifetime. It will make you stronger and grow lifelong friendships. If I'm ever feeling down, going to practice and skating is sure to cheers me up, it's the best stress reliever!
Do you have a special message to your fans?
Be your own creation, you're wonderful and amazing the way you are. Always do your best. Stay up in every situation. Encourage your peers to also do their best, in and outside of derby. And most importantly have fun. Life's too short.
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.