Featured Skater – September 2013

Featured Skater PhDiabla

PhDiabla #310

How did you first become involved in roller derby?
Evolution, really. As a kid, I loved roller skating and went to the local skating rink (Moonlight Rollerway) on a regular basis. I was always waiting for my jam, Madonna's "Vogue," to come on so I could skate around thinking I was the coolest. That love for skating also led me to play roller hockey with all the neighborhood boys growing up. As an adult, I skated less and less, always hoping someone would woo me by taking me on a date to a skating rink - but, I was always rolling solo. So, when I heard about Derby Lite, I signed up for a session. It was there that I met Estrella Negra, Casey Mace'em, Goose Cannon, and Wholigan and they told me all about The Outfit. We all passed advanced tryouts in 2012 (Wholigan tried out later that year) and the rest is history!

What is your favorite thing about the Chicago Outfit?

It really is a family! What's the saying? You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family? Well, The Outfit is the best of both worlds. It's the family that you get to choose. Admittedly, I didn't immediately feel that way even though I was physically close enough to be entrenched in everyone's derby smell for four nights a week. But, over time, they've become the people I see the most and the people I can count on. They're the people that come through for me when other people don't. They're there to support you through drills that feel like they'll never end, through wins and losses, broken bones, and just about anything that life and derby throw your way.

Is there anyone you would like to "Thank" for your total derby domination?

Ghost Writer. Not only is he my partner in life and crime (get it, The Outfit, heh), but he's my biggest fan and my personal coach. He's there at every bout cheering me on and giving me honest feedback, and he's incredibly supportive of the time and financial commitment that derby requires. The Apostrofiend for all of her excellent feedback from a coaching perspective and for her friendship through the shared misery of broken ankles. Goose Cannon and Strong Female Character for their positivity and support through those moment when I feel like I'm just not doing anything right out on the track. Lola Blow for her awesome feedback as a coach - without her, I'd still be dragging my toe and risking re-injury. Lastly, Code Adam, for always answering my questions about rules (even if always laced with sarcasm) so that I know what the heck I'm supposed to be doing out there.

What advice do you have for aspiring derby gals?

Practice, practice, practice - repeat! When you first start out and for many moons onwards, you'll have days where you feel like you're not doing anything right. How'd you miss that jammer? Why'd you trip on your own two feet? The only way you'll improve your skills is by going to practice. Even on those days that you're exhausted and just don't feel up for it, if you push yourself to go, you'll feel ten times better after those two hours and you'll be happy that you did.

What do you do when you are not playing roller derby?

You can usually find me in an archive doing historical research or at my desk working on my dissertation. Sometimes you'll even find me in the classroom trying to show people just how interesting history can actually be.

How has being part of a team impacted your life on and off the track?

It has made Chicago feel like a home away from home. I lived here for 3 years feeling like I didn't quite fit here, but being a part of The Outfit has made me feel connected to Chicago in a new way. I've also learned to "play well with others" (I was that kid who hated group projects) and it sure beats skating around in circles by myself.

Most embarrassing moment on skates?

I'd say it was the day I broke my ankle - it wasn't the injury itself, but the fact that I couldn't stop crying because I knew I was going to be out of commission. It was the last jam of regulation scrimmage, 6 days before my first bout of the season. I knew I wasn't going to be skating for a while and I couldn't stop crying because I was so pissed off about it. It would have been fine if I waited to do that when I got home, but of course it was in front of the whole league. What a cry baby!

Best after party moment?

Who doesn't love dancing with Pippi Long Smackings?!

Favorite outfit event?

As Bout Coordinator, I have to say that it's all of our home games! Especially those moments when the crowd gets really into it in the last minutes of a close game - nothing compares!

Signature move?

I don't have one just yet, but I've got one up my sleeve. I'm working on it.

Derby crush?

A lady never tells.

Prebout rituals?

Lots of water and Gatorade, some visualization of me being an amazing blocker, and thanks to Matza Ball Breaker, I've now incorporated some Jock Jams (Volume 1 of course).

Fun fact? I'm a sucker for 80s dance parties and am always on the lookout for finding a hidden gem at a thrift store.

Significance of derby name/number?

My number, 310, is an L.A. area code and is a constant reminder of home. My derby name, PhDiabla, is an ode to my family, hobbies, and real life career aspirations. I'm currently working on my PhD in History and my derby name motivates me to fulfill that goal (I mean, who really wants to change their derby name because they didn't reach their goal). As for the Diabla part, my dad used to see me skating as a kid and he used to say "parece pinche diabla" (Translation: she looks like a damn devil) because I was so fast and reckless.