July 2014 Featured Skater: Big Ugly Bang

If you’ve seen the HKRG Allstars in action this season, you know the name Big Ugly Bang.  When she’s not foiling blockers on the track, you’ve seen her out in the community helping Hard Knox give back. How does such a beauty get such an incongruous name? How does she stay fearless in the face of those opposing blockers waiting to stop her in her tracks? Read on to find out!

Photo by Rebecca Sword

Photo by Rebecca Sword

Agent Skaar, last month’s featured skater, was curious about the best random item you’ve found since you started your job at Goodwill Industries. Have a find you’re particularly proud of?

What a good question, even though it’s really hard to answer. I work as the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Goodwill, so part of my job is to go into our 30 stores and find interesting items to share on our social media platforms. It’s awesome. I think some of my favorite finds include a flail (medieval ball on chain on stick weapon), and a very strange pig figurine that had real fur and bright pink lips. Bizarre. Also, about half of my wardrobe comes from Goodwill, so there are some really practical items too.

As part of HKRG’s Public Relations committee, you’ve been involved in quite a few community events with Hard Knox. Why do you think the derby community places such importance on giving back?

I think that derby teams are so community-focused because we depend on our community so much. We understand needing support and time from people and organizations in our area, so we’re happy to give back. I personally organize many of our charitable outings and our featured charities at bouts, and I always have teammates coming to me with some great organizations that they want us to get involved with. Our girls are definitely not lacking interest in other organizations, and we do what we can to give back.

Photo by Todd Reinerio

Photo by Todd Reinerio

OK, you’re neither Big nor Ugly. Where did you get that name, Bang??

I started skating when I was living in a small community in West Virginia called Big Ugly (which, ironically, was also not big or ugly.) My name was a nod to the adventure I was on at the time. I practiced skating at the Big Ugly Community Center, which sold shirts as a fundraiser that said “I’m with Big Ugly.” Most of my long-time fans (i.e. my family) still have those shirts and wear them to bouts.

You transferred to Hard Knox from Heart of Appalachia Roller Derby in West Virginia. Do you remember your first HKRG practice? What was your first impression?

I attended my first Hard Knox practice before I moved to Knoxville, although I knew that I would be making the move in about half a year. I was pretty much a newbie at that time. The practice I joined in on was focused on staying with your partner, and I got paired up with Drop Dead…Gorgeous. She was an amazingly talented skater – one of the best jammers on the team at the time - and I went back to West Virginia totally intimidated. I was afraid that I would never be skilled enough to keep up with Hard Knox, but I worked my butt off for the next half year to prep myself as much as I could. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to play as soon as I transferred! I played in the first Hard Knox bout that I ever saw.

What’s your off-skates cross training regimen like?

It’s inconsistent – I don’t have a regular routine at all. I didn’t exercise much before starting roller derby, aside from casual bike riding, so I still prefer to sweat on skates. However, I have started running to keep up my endurance and I am really wanting to pick up cycling – just saving for that bike!

HKRG is coming up on a bit of a bouting break. What do you plan to do with a little more spare time?

Be sad? I never like the off season, so I’m not particularly looking forward to being on break. However, I’ll probably take advantage of some cleared weekends and take some mini-road trips with my husband.

Did you have a goal set for yourself for this season? How close are you to accomplishing it?
I had a lot of goals, but an overarching goal for the season was to prove myself on the Allstars. Last year, I played primarily for the Brawlers, but blocked a little for the Allstars. When I saw that I would be skating for the Allstars only, I wanted to make sure that I still got playtime, so I’ve been working hard to show my skills. I’ve stepped up to jam this season, which has given me the playtime that I wanted, and am continuing to improve my footwork, core strength and endurance to keep my spot.

Photo by John Blood

Photo by John Blood

You’re a formidable jammer, despite your slender build. What do you tell yourself when you step up to jam and see a wall of giant ladies waiting to blast you?

I don’t get psyched out by the other team. I don’t think about how strong they are or what I may have heard about them before the game. I assume that everyone is smart, but that I can absolutely get past them. I honestly believe that a huge piece of being a good jammer is just being stubborn – knowing that I will get past the blockers and not letting them hold me. Sometimes I have to practice this mental game, but it absolutely works.

Is there one player you’re most relieved to see blocking for you?
I am so thankful for so many of my blockers – I swear they make me look good on a regular basis. If I had to pick one to be on my side every time, it would probably be Wrecking Ball. I trust her to give the opposing jammer hell so I have time to push through and get Lead Jammer status. Kool-Aid, however, is a super close second; she is really quick to see when she can make a hole for me or hold an opposing blocker on a scoring lap for an easy point.

Who would you like to see as next month’s Featured Skater?

I want to see E3PO as the next Featured Skater. She has really grown as a player in the last year and I think she deserves some recognition for that. I want to hear a success story from her – something she worked on for a long time and finally got, or some shining moment from a bout where everything clicked.