If you've been to any of our home bouts this season, then you've seen a new number out there zipping around the track. Who is that speedy little jammer donning the number 5 on the back of her jersey? Is she a new skater to the world of roller derby, or did she come to us from another league?
Who are some of the top-team jammers that she looks to for inspiration? What are some areas she's working to improve in her own jamming skill-set this season? If you'd like to learn more about one of Hard Knox's newest additions, then read on to catch a glimpse into the interesting life of number 5, CarcinoJen.
Like Val Killmore, you’re also a transfer skater new to us this season. Tell us where you came from and a little bit about how your old leagues differs from Hard Knox. What things are different? What things are the same?
I started playing roller derby in Clovis, New Mexico in 2013-14, and in 2015, I skated with the West Texas Roller Dollz in Lubbock, TX. During my time in NM, I also filled in with Route 66 in Amarillo, TX. This league was mainly made up of girls who skated in the 5 smaller towns surrounding Amarillo. All three leagues were much smaller than Hard Knox having fewer skaters and resources available. I feel very fortunate to skate with HKRG because we have a really awesome practice space, a portable floor to skate on, as well as much larger membership. It's a big change from playing games short and skating at skating rinks, parking lots, and dance halls!
The only similarities between the three leagues I've skated with have been the passion for derby. My first league was on its first year so there was a lot of learning in how we played the game and how we ran the organization. WTRD was more established than CRD and Route 66 so the practices were more intense and the gameplay was definitely more competitive. I thoroughly enjoyed building my skills with them (and the many other leagues I've skated with), and I'm stoked to be able to bring what I've learned to HKRG.
What roles did you hold within your old leagues? What roles do you hold within Hard Knox?
I was the Community Outreach Coordinator and President for the league in NM. I didn’t hold any leadership roles with WTRD because I had a roughly 2-hour commute plus a time zone change to get there. For Hard Knox, I'm in charge of advertising for and with the league.
How did you find out about roller derby, and what made you want to give it a whirl in the first place?
The first time I ever heard about roller derby was through my mother. My grandfather played roller derby back in the late 30’s and early 40's. She used to always talk about “dad skating” but I never really knew what she meant. It wasn’t until living with Barbara Bushwhacker in 2010 that I discovered the derby revival and the team here in Knoxville. Despite loving to skate, I was unable to immediately join because I couldn’t commit to the time requirements to play. After college, I moved to NM and in the first week I found a brand new team and decided to join. I have been playing ever since.
How long have you played roller derby?
This year is my 4th season playing.
Do you prefer jamming or blocking?
I will jam any and every time my team needs me to do so. I really love the footwork, agility, and endurance that I need for jamming. This season I’ve been putting more effort into developing effective blocking skills. Switching from "jammer brain" to "blocker brain" is definitely hard for me, but I'm excited because building my blocking skills helps me understand game play more thoroughly and better serve the needs of the team.
What goals do you have for yourself this season?
At the beginning of the season I made a two-page list of everything I wanted to accomplish this year. I split it into jammer skills and blocking skills and overall derby skills. For jamming, I’ve been working on counting my points during jams and 180 apex jumps just for fun. For blocking, I’ve been working on how to recognize what’s happening in the pack during each jam such as where are both jammers, where are the opposing blockers, and bridging to maintain the pack. Overall derby skills would be to improve strength/endurance and learn hockey stops.
Bush wants to know “how you’re such a beast at the skatepark.” What made you get out and try roller-skating on ramps and in bowls? Where do you get inspiration for new tricks? What’s your favorite trick to do? Are there any new tricks you’re trying to learn?
I started my love for skate parks at Axis Skate Park when I was around 14 years old. I skateboarded off and on since 14 through college, so taking my quad skates to the park was a natural transition. As for trick inspiration, I get it from my previous experience skating at the park, skateboarding videos, as well as from Chicks in Bowls and Moxi Skate Team skaters like Lady Trample and Estro Jen. My favorite trick is the Zen Air or 1-footed backside stalls. Lately I’ve been working on different ways to flow through the bowls at the Knoxville Skate Park. I also want to be able to air above the coping in the peanut pool and get more comfortable going that high on ramps.
How does skating the skatepark translate to flat-track roller derby?
The skatepark teaches you how to not fall and hurt yourself - very important skill! You get to use your skills in a different way so your footwork and confidence improve.
Tell us about your gear set up.
I have custom Riedell 495’s with a Sure-Grip Avenger Plate, grind block, Atom Juke Wheels, and Bones Ceramic bearings. As for pads, I like S-One Helmets, Smith Scabs knee pads/gaskets, and 187 elbow pads and wrist guards.
Besides derby and hitting the skatepark, do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Other than derby my hobbies include yoga, hanging out with my dog, coloring, and eating.
What is your all-time favorite movie that you could just lay on the couch with your dog, Ziggy, and watch over and over again?
Probably the original "Willy Wonka" because I’m not so secretly a choc-o-holic, and I wanted to live in his factory when I was a kid. Ok, still do.
Who is your favorite top team in roller derby today? Do you also have a favorite skater? Who is she, and why do you think she’s so awesome?
After last year’s WFTDA Champs, I have really looked up to Victorian Roller Derby League in Australia. They play really smart roller derby. The blockers have perfect recycling, walls, and bridging. The jammers know exactly how many points they’re getting and the best way to manage the clock.
I have a handful of favorite skaters including Hauss the Boss, Loren Mutch, Christie Demons, Scald Eagle, and Bonnie Thunders. All of these ladies are fantastic jammers that inspire me to try new things. I like Hauss the Boss because she has excellent lateral movement, Loren Mutch because of her speed and strength, Christie Demons because of her total game awareness, Scald Eagle because she is fearless, and Bonnie Thunders because she’s is the best jammer of all time.
Given the opportunity to plant any tree in your yard, what type of tree would you choose?
Sweet Gum trees because they have pretty star shaped leaves and an awesome scientific name (Liquidambar styraciflua).
If you piloted a magical exploration vessel, would you rather explore the deep dark unknown depths of the oceans on Earth or the vast unknown regions of outer space?
Space 100%. I would take my dog Ziggy and go looking for David Bowie. If we couldn't find him we'd probably hang out on the dark side of the moon.
Who would you like to see as next month’s featured skater, and why?
I would like to know how Rosie Burns got started in roller derby and what fuels her passion for the sport. I also want her to share a delicious cookie recipe with us!
Fantastic! Thanks for the great interview, Jen. That was a lot of fun! We're really happy to have you with us here at Hard Knox.
Until next month...