Hard Knox Rollergirls

The Hard Knox Rollergirls are Knoxville's first competitive roller derby team. Come see what all the fuss is about.

September Featured Skater: Rosie Burns

If you've noticed a certain rosy-faced skater out on the track this season, then you've witnessed one of our newest Brawlers in action. What goes through her head during a jam? Which skills has she been working on this season? What drives her to play roller derby in the first place? 

She's square-danced in Roanoke and eaten pizza in NYC. She's also got a few witty jokes up her sleeve. If you're curious about the inspiration behind her derby name or if you'd like to know how to make the perfect ooey-gooey cookie, then kick back, relax, and read on to learn more about some of the things that make up the skater, the warrior, and the woman who is Rosie Burns. 


Last month, CarcinoJen was the featured skater and she had a few questions of her own for you. We’ll start off with her first question: how did you get started in roller derby?

Back in college, I met a girl whom I would come to know as Creature Feature. We swam next to each other and one day she asked if I liked to roller skate. Reminiscing of my earlier years spent at Roller Kingdom I said, 'yes'. She invited me to a fresh meat practice where I got a glimpse of talented, athletic women and learned that there are way more things you can do on roller skates than go in a circular direction.

And as Jen also asked, what fuels your passion for the sport?

It’s part of my identity. I’ve always been athletic, and roller derby makes sense for my age, abilities, and ambitions. I love being around strong, confident, capable women who encourage me to be the best person/skater I can be. I’ve been on various sports teams, which are fun and social, but there is a real drive in derby. It’s fun while being competitive and strategic. The prospect of learning plays and having a solid working knowledge on what the best actions are in various situations is mentally and physically stimulating. All the women I have met through derby are passionate about this sport. I love the enthusiasm, excitement, and encouragement that all of my teammates bring. I love how there will always be room for improvement and new tricks to learn. I love how it helps me grow as an athlete because every time I put my skates on I learn something new, and it fuels my desire for off-skates training.  Even though I fall a lot, I always want to get back up. 

Photo credit: Rebecca Sword 

Photo credit: Rebecca Sword 

Do you prefer banked track or flat track roller derby? Why?

I will forever and always prefer to fall on a banked track. As far as technique and game play goes, I think flat track has provided me more strategic opportunity. Granted, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the banked track. On flat track, we’re always trying to slow the game down, which is also helpful when processing everything that’s going on. I also find myself ahead of the pack often because my brain doesn’t process a 20 foot engagement zone (it’s more like 40 feet) and the fact that I can regroup with my teammates is always a plus, which you can’t do on a banked track since you can’t go backwards. Although...that would eliminate the direction of game play penalty I get every once in a while… 

Photo credit: unknown (circa 2012)

Photo credit: unknown (circa 2012)

Tell us the story behind your derby name.

Well, I like to think it’s multifunctional. Rosie the Riveter was a wartime symbol for work and sacrifice, and now she is a modern symbol of female empowerment, all of which represent derby to me, so it’s cool we share a name. When you get rink rash, it’s a rosy burn, so that’s where I channel the moderately aggressive, salty-sweet persona.  In reality, my skin is pretty pink and gets red quickly when my heart rate increases, so labeling myself as “Rosie” is a great way to address something I was really insecure about. Aaand my middle name is Burns. It’s a packaged deal. 

What goals did you set for yourself this season? After you reach those goals, what are you going to work towards for next season?

Footwork! Toe stop work! Blocking! Agility! ...all of which will take more than one season. The balls of my feet and my big toes would tell you that I’m great on my inside edges. Now if I could figure out how to balance between inside and outside edges, that would be great. I also want to be more comfortable transitioning from eight wheels to two toe stops and all the combinations in between. My running toe stop starts have improved significantly from the beginning of the season, so that’s a great building block on being able to transition. Speaking of blocks…I’ve learned better blocking form which supports my goal of blocking effectively. I’ve been practicing the “Bean Dip, Tortilla Chip” so now it’s just real life timing that I need to get down to feel accomplished. Overall, my goal is to be quick and graceful.  I will be working towards that for many more seasons to come.  I also want to get better at flowing around the skatepark. There's lots of room for growth in that department.

Photo credit: Brett Bivens 

Photo credit: Brett Bivens 

Have you ever played any other team sports? If so, what were they? What was your favorite sport to play?

Most definitely. I’ve always been an athlete. I started dancing when I was 3ish, then softball when I was 9, followed by basketball at 10. To be honest, I started playing school sports so I could get out of class early. #NoRegrets For that reason, I picked up volleyball and track (which I was really bad at) in middle school--all of which carried on through high school (except track)--but then I dropped volleyball to run cross country because they needed one more girl. I saw it as good conditioning for basketball (I came in last place in every race I ran except one) and eventually decided I wanted to be a cheerleader for the stunting aspect. After high school, I played on various slow-pitch softball teams and some kickball teams, did some recreational swimming and dancing, then I got into roller derby. But then I had to stop because I only had school insurance which didn’t cover real injuries. So then I got into paddling a concrete canoe. My strong, beautiful partner Danielle Palffy and I went on to take first place at our regional competition, and then we took first place at nationals! I brag because it’s the only sport I’ve ever really won at…except bowling. I got a bowling trophy once… Like I said, being an athlete, albeit a mediocre one, is part of my identity. I like kickball because you can drink beer while playing but basketball definitely prepared me the best for derby.

Also, shout out to my parents for being my biggest fans! They made every game, meet, and match they could. They are the real MVPs. <3 

Photo credit: Rosie Burns 

Photo credit: Rosie Burns 

Jen asked you to share a delicious cookie recipe with us. Shoot~

Drive to the store. Pick up some Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookie dough. Ignore the warning and eat half of it raw. If it says to heat them up for 15 to 17 minutes, turn the oven off at 13-15 minutes and let sit for 5-10 minutes in the oven to get a crisp outside and gooey inside. 

Sorry, Jen. My specialty is Brownies.

If you mix a scoop of protein with some cream cheese, graham crackers, raspberries, and a liquid base it’s pretty delicious.  It kind of tastes like cookies?

What goes through your head when you’re waiting for the whistle to blow at the start of a jam?

First jam out: Oy! Holy cow this is really happening. What am I doing?  Breathe. Stay strong. Get those hips in front of her. Don’t be scared of your toe stops. Keep breathing. You are a strong stable woman. If you fall, hustle back up.

Half way through first half: Yeah girl! You’re strong. You keep keepin’ that jammer back!

When the final whistle blows: What?! That was the last jam??!  What happened to the last 10 minutes? 

Photo credit: John M. Blood 

Photo credit: John M. Blood 

Have you ever been on an epic road trip? Tell us about it.

I’m a road warrior. Growing up in the desert primed me for long drives. I’ve traveled many miles on the road including five cross country trips, four of which were by myself. The most epic trip was when my friend Jaclyn flew into Knoxville and we went to Roanoke, VA where we saw the cutest grandmas and grandpas in the best matching handmade outfits and they taught us how to square dance. Next stop was Philly with the Liberty Bell and the best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my entire life made by an Amish man. Then we headed to New York City and up to Canada. All the sights, sounds, people, and pizza were incredible. As engineers, we delighted in figuring out the unit conversions for speed and distance and tested our sense of direction since we didn’t have phone service i.e. no GPS. We were successful. We danced in Chicago, camped in Colorado. Nevada welcomed us home with the clearest blue skies, a moderate dry heat, and a hot spring with nobody around for miles. It was glorious. I miss the profound power of the desert.

What’s your zodiac sign?

Piquarius! (My birthday is on the cusp) #219  

Know any good jokes?

What did one hat say to another? –You stay here, I’ll go on a head!

The operator walks into a bar. He blames the engineer.

Two fish are swimming upstream when one crashes into a wall. The other yells, “Dam!”

What does being a roller girl mean to you?

It means channeling my inner and outer strength. It means encouraging my teammates and opponents. It inspires fearlessness and growth. I love the tries and triumphs. It means being part of an incredibly supportive network of remarkable people. 

Photo credit: John M. Blood 

Photo credit: John M. Blood 

Please share a little fun fact about yourself.

I love athletic ankle socks with arch support.

What does your bout day ritual entail?

Through trial and error, I’ve learned that eating a whole box of macaroni and cheese the night before is the tastiest way to carbo load. Bout day I like to wake up and sit outside. Make a nice protein drink. Eat a banana. Consume water. And the most important part… make sure I have a Payday. It’s what keeps my fueled during the game.

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

Terror Tot! I want to know about her transition from blades to quads (and sometimes back to blades) and more about her pre-bout ritual and the significance of washing her feet. I also want to know if she had an unlimited budget, how she would design her dream windows and blinds. 

Photo credit: Rosie Burns 

Photo credit: Rosie Burns 


Thanks for the terrific interview, Rosie. You're a super interesting chick! We're glad the desert gave you to us :)  

Until next month~

Space Riot

 

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