May Featured Skater: Lethal PathoJen

For those of you who travelled to the Chatty bout in March, you saw a familiar face out on the track. That’s right, Lethal PathoJen has returned to the Hard Knox Roller Girls! We’re thrilled to have her back. She is a strong, smart skater who has a lot of skill and passion for roller derby. We're so happy she found her way back to us. Lethal has worn many hats throughout her tenure with Hard Knox, serving as league Treasurer, President, Captain of the Brawlers, and Co-Captain of her home team, the Black Bettys.

She is levelheaded and calm on the bench but a force to be reckoned with on the track. Lethal trains hard and skates even harder. If you're wondering what she does to stay fit or where she acquired all that awesome derby knowledge, then read on. You may learn a thing or two yourself! 

After a lengthy break, you’ve returned to Hard Knox. What was it that drew you back to roller derby?

I intended to take a short leave in spring of 2014, which turned into a 3 year break from Hard Knox.  Although I intended my time away to be a break from roller derby, I wasn’t able to completely stop playing. Staying away from this sport just isn’t possible once you are hooked – and I am truly hooked!

I played derby when my work schedule allowed, attended training seminars, and filled in on other teams’ rosters when the opportunities arose. I also worked on speed skating for a while and even played in a USARS bout. Most importantly, I spent two years coaching junior roller derby for the Atomic City Fallouts. Being able to share my love of this sport with 7-17 year old girls was a great experience. I hope to see them on the track as adults one day. During this time I also changed jobs, and now my new work schedule lends itself far better to playing on a team and being able to be off work for bouts.

What is it about roller derby that excites you? What challenges you the most? What do you think your strengths and weakness are?

I never skated until I decided to play roller derby. I truly LOVE to skate, and I still feel like a kid every time I put my skates on. Roller derby is the first contact sport I’ve ever played, and I love it.  Derby is simple enough for a fan attending their first bout to follow the game but has challenging strategy involving playing defense and offense at the same time. One of the biggest challenges with derby is the way the sport has changed over the past few years. Derby is still a young sport, and keeping up with changes to the rule set and strategies teams are using has kept everyone on their toes.  I would have to say my strengths are communication and my knowledge of the game. I keep a very level head during practice and scrimmage and strive to make sure my teammates are having fun. Weakness: At any time I am probably working on about 5 new skills. I wouldn’t say that's a weakness, but having the time to dedicate to learn each new skill and to be able to perform it without thinking can take many, many repetitions.  That takes a lot of time that I don’t always have. To quote Bruce Lee, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” 

You’ve done a lot of training with Division 1 skaters and coaches throughout your derby career. Tell us about the most beneficial training experience you ever had. What was the single most important piece of information that you brought home with you? 

That’s a tough question. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some amazing skaters and coaches. March Radness hosted by the LA Derby Dolls has been a fantastic experience both years I’ve attended. Last year, I was selected to play in their exhibition bout with the camp’s coaches. It was an experience that I will never forget. Sharing the track (banked, by the way) with such talented skaters as camp coaches: Bonnie Thunders, OMG, Smarty Pants, and Mercy, along with the LA Derby Dolls, was an eye-opening experience. The most important thing I brought home with me was the way they approached the game on the bench. How they spoke to each other and what they spoke to each other about.  It completely changed my mental dialogue as well as the types of conversations I have with my teammates during games. That experience was roller derby gold!

Photo by: Grant Palmer Photography 

Photo by: Grant Palmer Photography 

Cross training is so very important in being a roller derby athlete. Aside from practice, can you tell us what your typical workout week looks like? 

I train with weights 2-3 times a week with my husband, and I also try to get in at least one yoga class per week. I’m a huge fan of injury prevention, so my training fluctuates with my derby schedule.  We work on a number of things in the gym to develop slow and fast twitch fibers. We incorporate sleds, bands, and use resistance and pause/rest reps in our workouts.  I also do on-skates training in the gym, which seems to keep my gym family entertained, lol.

Photo by: Steve Tomanicek

Photo by: Steve Tomanicek

How does proper nutrition play a role in your training as well?

Nutrition is everything! I’d estimate performance being about 90% what you eat and 10% what you do in the gym. Not to downplay the importance of the training portion, but it pales in comparison to nutrition. I watch my macros (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and have one cheat meal a week. We food prep once a week, which makes life much easier. Food is ultimately fuel, so I try to eat in a way that gives me plenty of energy and strength for gym workouts, derby, and mental focus at work.

What goals do you have for yourself this season?

I’m keeping it pretty simple this season. My goals are to enjoy every minute we’re playing and really play in the moment with my team. I am also planning to compete in another bodybuilding competition this November, which I’m getting excited about.

Photo by: Ben Smith 

Photo by: Ben Smith 

Tell us about your gear set up.

I skate on Brooklyn Skate Company boots, Arius plates, and Rollerbones Turbo wheels (best wheels EVER).  

Kitty Twister wanted to hear about your pups. Can you tell us a little about your fur family?

I have 3 amazing dogs: two Dalmatians and a Jack Russell terrier. They’re all named after X-Men: Rogue, Logan, and Storm. Never a dull moment at my house, that’s for sure. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like to travel and spend time with my family (pets included). I also like crafts like knitting and crocheting, which I picked up in graduate school to help with stress.

If you could hop into a time machine, when and where would you go, and why?

Probably to the day I broke my leg to tell myself, ‘you need to sit this one out.' 

Kitty chose you as the next featured skater because she said you were a complete mystery to her. Share a secret with us that no one else knows.

My first career was as a scientist, and I worked overseas for a year on an island.

Do you have a derby idol? If so, who is she? Tell us what it is you admire most about her. 

Don’t we all? It’s always been Suzy Hotrod. She is the embodiment of athletic feminine power. The first time I attended a boot camp that she was coaching at Gotham, I was shocked to see that she was my size. Solid muscle too, which I have huge respect for. She’s not only an amazing athlete, but a great coach as well. She helped me tap in to my strength on the track, i.e. she taught me how to effectively escort the opposing players in my path to the floor. As a new player, I really struggled with how to use my strength. I knew I was strong, having worked out and lifted weights since I was 16, but playing a contact sport was a foreign concept to me. She really helped me understand how to use what I had to my advantage and gave me the confidence to do it. Plus, she is amazing to watch when she jams!

How do you balance derby with your personal and professional life? Tell us the key to keeping your sanity and also being productive in all facets of your life. What advice can you give to new girls learning how to juggle it all?

It’s not always easy. Sometimes, work and life really get in the way of my derby. My family and career come first. I think that’s been the balancing piece for me--realizing it’s okay that I can’t do everything 110%. I tend to throw all of myself into whatever I’m doing. Halfway has never been my strong suit. I’ve learned to focus fully on each thing for the amount of time I can devote to it and then happily move on to the next thing. It’s made a big difference in keeping derby fun and relaxing and not over-extending my time when it’s not possible.

You are a strong, athletic woman. What inspirational quote do you use as a personal mantra for positivity and personal growth? What motivates you to continually push yourself harder? 

Thank you for that complement; being strong is very important to me. I’m a big fan of mental toughness. My mantra for several years now has been just one word--stronger. It has personal meaning due to a sports injury several years ago that many thought would take me off the track forever. When I was recovering, I would tell myself that I was stronger than any injury or obstacle and that I would play again. Over time, stronger has come to mean something completely different. Every time I train, I’m stronger than I was yesterday, last week, last month, last year…not only physically, but also mentally.

Photo by: Ben Smith 

Photo by: Ben Smith 

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

DDG!  I have always admired her speed and footwork, and she greatly influenced the early goals I had for myself in regards to being an effective blocker. You have to be agile and fast to stop her. If you can’t move like her, you will never stand a chance to stop her. I want to know where she got her “ninja-on-skates” abilities and how she sees her skating developing in the future.

We're really excited to have you playing with us again, Lethal. Here's to a super fun season, and thanks for the great interview!

Until next month~

~Space Riot