April Featured Skater: Thang 1


She's a skater, painter, mother, and teacher, but best of all, she's now a Hard Knox Roller Girl! Thang 1 transferred to Hard Knox from our sister league last year. After spending 3 years playing for Little City, Thang 1 got the chance to go back to her roots and become a member of the league with which she played her first ever derby bout.   

Thang 1 may have a bad sense of direction, but that's okay, we're more than excited to have her skating with us. Our hearts swell a little each time our derby family grows, and we couldn't be happier to have such a cool new member. She's got some talent, on and off the track. Want to know where can you see this skater's fabulous paintings on display around town? Is there a Thang 2? What are some of the reasons she loves Dr. Seuss so? Read on to find out more about this month's featured skater, Thang 1. 

Black Stabbath chose you as April’s Featured Skater because she said she, “loved an artist with a wild side.” What type of artwork do you do? Do you have any works currently on display or any upcoming shows that you’d like to tell us about?  

She flatters me. I need her to walk around behind me while whispering affirmations.

Right now I do oil and encaustic wax paintings, and when I was in college I also made ceramics. For the new year I resolved to try something different with my work and I began making landscapes. Knoxville has some fantastic places to paint, but my favorite works are my figurative pieces. With them I try to focus on issues like social justice and maternal perspectives.

In April I have a piece that is going to be at the Tyson McGhee airport for the Arts in the Airport show, and two pieces that will be in the Dogwood Arts Synergy exhibit at the Clayton Center for the Arts. I try to enter shows frequently because the deadlines keep me from procrastinating too much and putting off painting.

"Gay Street Bridge," 2015 

"Gay Street Bridge," 2015 

Who is your favorite artist, and why?

Ohhhh. That is a really, really hard one. I could maybe narrow down the list to just a handful: Mary Cassatt, Alice Neel, Egon Schiele, Kathe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Vincent Van Gogh.

I guess Van Gogh would be my all time favorite, because his brushwork and color is breathtaking. He painted constantly even though no one appreciated his work during his lifetime, he was a very interesting guy with a neat backstory, and  when I was a kid he was the first artist that ever caught my eye.

I didn’t start making art until I returned to college as an adult with kids, I like to say that I didn’t even doodle up until then, so I always feel like I am playing catch up with people that have been creating their whole lives. Van Gogh was someone that took up art as a challenge and worked hard to grow because he thought it could make a difference.

What’s this wild side Stabbath is referring to?

Umm…can I plead the Fifth? I have a reputation to uphold. Maybe it is because we played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. Or the time we hid those bodies. I can get a little wild, but I am one of those quiet people that tends to surprise others when I do get riled up.

You came to Hard Knox last year from another league. Who did you play for and how long were you a part of their league?

Yes, I began skating with HKRG’s rec league last year and became a league member and made it onto the Brawlers' roster at the end of the season. I was able to play in the final Brawlers' bout of the season.

When I moved to Knoxville I had thought that I was retired the year before, but I guess derby was not through with me yet. There are no people like derby people, and I really missed the therapeutic hitting.

I began derby by skating with the Little City Roller Girls, in Johnson City, TN with my sister in 2009. I skated with them for three years as Miss Thang 1.

Photo credit: John Blood 

Photo credit: John Blood 

Do you have any plans of retiring from roller derby any time soon?  

Not at the moment. Right now I am trying to look at it one season at a time, but as long as I am enjoying myself, I can find the time around being with my kids, and am physically able, I will be playing roller derby.

With your name being Thang 1, I’m assuming there’s a Thang 2. Can you tell us who she is? And are you both fans of Dr. Seuss?

My sister and I began derby together, on a wild hair after watching the movie Whip It, and we took the names Miss Thang 1 and 2. We come from a set identical triplets, the other triplet doesn’t play derby, so it was a natural idea for us to play up the twin schtick, which led us to the Dr. Seuss Things.

Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? He invented his own words, had an endless imagination, and even made some really good adult political cartoons. I teach elementary art, so that may expose me to him more than other people, but he was a brilliant artist and writer, and he is still one of my favorites. I love that he can tackle tough topics, like war, equality, and bullies, and make it simple and fun. Plus, the things are mischievous and have great blue hair, and you have to love that.

Photo credit: Bill Rhodes 

Photo credit: Bill Rhodes 

Can you tell us what it feels like to be a transfer skater? How does our league differ from your old league, and which aspects, if any, are the same?

Hard Knox was the first team that Thang 2 and I ever played with. We were brought in as subs in a Brawlers' bout for our first official game, so Hard Knox was always the team that we admired and loved to play with/against. We also had a huge derby crush on Goblynn, DDG, and Miss Murder, so when I got the chance to join the league, I was thrilled. It made it even better that Thang 2 was so jealous. I am looking forward to playing a full season here.

The biggest differences are just the way practices are run, league requirements, and logistical things like that. Like I mentioned earlier, the people are the best part of roller derby, and there are some great personalities on HKRG just like LCRG.

Hailing from the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, do you have any folk remedies, tips, or tricks that you’d like to share with us?

It would be really cool if I did! I somehow managed to miss that part of my education, but now I feel the need to Google some remedies, just to be cool. Haha! The only tip I can only say is that you shouldn’t take the landscape for granted. From Wise, County, VA to East Tennessee, we live in a beautiful place and should take care of it so that it stays that way. And then I can keep painting it. *The More You Know.

Have you read any good books lately?

I recently finished The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. She is an author from my neck of the woods, and this book includes the artist Frida Kahlo and Asheville, which is a fun combination. Maybe when I grow up I will be a writer so that I can chose to make my book be set in Mexico or Asheville, and then travel there to “research”. Right now I am getting back to the chick stuff and am reading Sense and Sensibility.

What does your bout day ritual entail? Do you eat anything special to power up your body?

When I was with LCRG, part of the ritual would entail getting lost with Thang 2 while trying to get to the venue. It happened EVERY TIME. Darn our negative sense of direction. Sometimes I have to remind myself to turn left on the track.

I haven’t really developed one for HKRG yet. I may have to find someone on the team that is willing to get lost and panic with me.

If I say that I end up eating chocolate beforehand, because that is the most important part of my food pyramid, would that make me as cool as Scald Eagle with her Coke?

I’ve seen you hit the skatepark a few times. What enticed you to try out the ramps and bowls? What is your favorite thing to do at the skatepark? Which facets of aggressive quad skating challenge you the most?

When I was a kid I used to watch the X Games on TV, and I would skate around with my Rollerblades and imagine that I was on the ramps or bowls. I have enjoyed skating at the skatepark, but as someone with a fear of heights, it really pushes me to deal with my phobia. All of it is challenging. Every skill is something new there, but the thing that I look forward to eventually doing is to drop into the bowls naturally, without feeling like I am pitching myself off of the Empire State Building.

Going back to roller derby, what challenges you most out on the track?

The most challenging thing on the track is working on drills. I look forward to scrimmage time, so sometimes it is hard to focus on the drills and skills that you need to get better in the bouts.

 Is there a skater, or skaters, who you look to for inspiration?

At the risk of sounding cliché, all of the skaters that I skate with inspire me in different ways. When you have people of all different backgrounds and body types, putting that much effort into a sport that they love, they all have something to offer that is inspirational. My favorite people are the ones that were not really athletic or interested in sports before derby. It is pretty badass to take up something new.

Are you working on any new moves this season?

I want to continue working on some hits so that I can be a better blocker. The sword in the stone for me is to one day jump the apex. There is always something to work on or improve in derby.

Photo credit: John Blood 

Photo credit: John Blood 

Who would you like to see as next month’s featured skater, and why?

I would like to see Val Killmore as next month’s featured skater. She is also a transfer skater to HKRG, she is brand new to the league, and she came in with a killer skill-set only a short time after her daughter was born. She has an infectious enthusiasm about roller derby, and loves to share what she knows, so I would like to know more about her.

Thanks for the great interview, Thang 1! We're glad to have you as a Hard Knox Roller Girl.

Until next time…

~Space Riot