May Featured Skater: Val Killmore
She may be new to our league, but she's not new to the sport of roller derby. Our recent post-season produced several new skaters, some of which were transfers, for Hard Knox. This month's featured skater is one of those transfers, and we're super excited to have her on board. Where does she hail from? How long has she played derby? What is her favorite position out on the track?
If you're eager to learn more about one of our newest additions, then kick back and enjoy reading this fun little interview about May's Featured Skater, #22, Val Killmore.
Thang 1 chose you as this month’s featured skater because you’re another transfer skater who is brand new to our league. She said you “came in with a killer skill-set only a short time after having your daughter, that you have an infectious enthusiasm about roller derby, and that you love sharing what you know,” so she wants you to tell us more! Where did you begin your roller derby career?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….lol. My derby career began in 2010 with a team out in Hattiesburg, MS called the Southern Misfits. The Misfits later changed their name to Hub City Derby Dames. I learned how to skate with this league and basically showed up to practice following a roommate who was interested in playing. I knew nothing about roller derby but I was intrigued and drawn to it like no other sport I have played before.
What are some roles you held within your old leagues?
With the Southern Misfits, I was one of their primary jammers and on occasion would help with training. After playing 2.5 years with the Misfits I transferred to Red Stick Roller Derby out in Baton Rouge, LA, and some of the roles I took on with that team were a Co-Captain position on our All Stars travel team and a skater coach position as a member of our Training Committee.
Did you come into derby with a background in sports or any previous coaching experience?
Yes. I was a collegiate athlete from 2007-2009. I played soccer and ran track. I have also played basketball and volleyball non-competitively through city leagues. I was a level 2 & 3 certified soccer coach and referee. I also volunteered through a top soccer program that taught children who were blind how to play soccer and travelled to Ukraine to run soccer camps during my high school years. On occasion I actually still help train high school soccer teams with my mom who coaches out in Wetumpka, Alabama.
I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Thang 1: 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?
In a way being a transfer feels like going through a fresh meat program all over again. Only instead of learning basic skills I am learning how to connect with different strategies and teammates. Hard Knox differs from Red Stick with the way practices are run as Red Stick has multiple skater coaches and Hard Knox has designated a specific person for this job. Although Red Stick uses different strategies, I think what makes them similar to Hard Knox is the work ethic each skater puts in at practice. Both Hard Knox and Red Stick rent their own warehouse, have home teams, a secondary travel team, and an All Star travel team, so the dynamics on how things are run are similar when it comes to practice space, dues, roster selection, and attendance requirements for on-skates practices and community involvement.
Is there anyone out there that you’d like to give a special shout-out to?
I have to give a special shout out to my derby wife Turbo Tyke back in Baton Rouge, LA. I miss her on and off the track. She is an amazing jammer and blocker. I miss running around the lakes on our wifey dates :)
Tell us about your gear setup.
I currently skate on Antiks with a DA45 Magnesium plate. I use Bones Swiss bearings with Adonis microwheels. My helmet and wrist guards are Triple 8. My knee pads are Scabs. My elbow pads are Pro-Tec, and I have the Sisu mouthguard. I guess you can say I don’t stick to one company.
What’s the story behind your derby name?
Back in 2010, one of the Southern Misfits veteran skater brought a list of names to practice that were claimed to be free from the Two Evils website (most derby girls checked to make sure they were not copying anyone else). I saw Val Killmore on the list and instantly fell in love since my real name is Val, and I thought it was pretty clever. Also...Batman.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you like to visit?
Right now I would kill to visit Brazil and watch the USWNT at the Olympic games. I also would love to visit Barcelona one day.
Do you have a favorite holiday?
CHRISTMAS!!! I am a huge Christmas fan. I love all the cheesy music, and my family gets into it too, so it makes it that much more fun making cookies and leaving out milk for Dad…oops! I mean Santa.
Out on the track, we’ve seen you both jam and block. Which position do you prefer to play, and why?
I’m a jammer at heart. I like doing both jobs simply because blocking makes you a better jammer. Honestly, I just love the adrenaline rush you get from having four people wanting to beat you up on skates, and I’m all about scoring those points!
In her interview, Thang 1 mentioned your killer skill-set. What are some of the things you do, on-skates and off-skates, to build your skills?
Thanks Thang 1 for the compliment! Some things I do on skates are work on my edges, transitioning, and speed/endurance. Any time I can get extra time to strap on skates, I try to challenge myself by doing things that feel uncomfortable or things that I might not get the opportunity to work on during practice. As far as off-skates goes, I focus on building muscle that can enable me to jump up as quickly as possible if I am ever knocked down.
Is there anything in particular that you’re working on this season?
This season I am mainly focusing on getting back into the swing of things since I just had my first baby. Yay! I’m a derby mom!! Ideally I would like to be better than I was before, but I don’t want to rush things. Everything is slowly starting to come back due to muscle memory but my endurance is not there yet, so that is my first step.
Less than 6 months ago, you gave birth to your beautiful baby girl. Care to reveal what you’ve been doing in the gym to get your derby body back after such a short amount of time?
She sure is beautiful! To get back into my derby shape I have been doing various forms of cardio and agility training. I do a LOT of plyometrics and strength training as well. Squat jumps, double jumping jacks, star jumps, burpees, plank progressions, shuffle progressions, and sprints are just a few things that are normally packed into my off-skates workouts.
Please share with us your most memorable roller derby experience thus far.
My most memorable roller derby experience still dates back to the first official away bout I jammed in. It was with my first team, The Southern Misfits, and we were playing against Assassination City out in Texas. It was a long 8 hour drive to get there, and I was nervous the whole time! We went in to play this team as a learning experience and never expected to pull out a win within the last few jams. At the end of the game, we were all jumping on our skates in a rink packed full of fans for the other team. It was such an amazing feeling to win when we were pegged the underdogs.
Who would you like to see as next month’s featured skater, and why?
I would like to see Brooke Sloan as next month’s featured skater because I want to hear what the #2 means to her. I will be retiring that number and skating as 22 this season with Hard Knox because my previous number belongs to Sloan. It’s definitely a lucky number, and I am glad that an amazing skater owns it with this league and will keep the reputation up to par!
It's wonderful to have you in our league, Val. Welcome to Hard Knox--officially--and thanks for letting me pick your brain during this enjoyable interview. Until next time...