No, your eyes aren't deceiving you...that wide, bright smile you could recognize a mile away belongs to none other than, Drop Dead...Gorgeous. That's right, she's back in town and sharing the track with the rest of the Hard Knox Roller Girls this season! After getting a couple of away bouts under her belt earlier this year, she's now ready to kick off our home season here in Knoxville on Sat. June 3rd at the Knoxville Convention Center. Be sure to come out and say hello, but to tide you over in the meantime, read on to see what she's been doing with herself these last few years.
2017 has been a giving year; it has given us back several friendly faces from the past. Like Lethal, we’re so excited to have you back, DDG. Can you tell your fans where you’ve been hiding these last few years? Were you still involved in roller derby?
Glad to be back, Knoxville! I’ve been in Chattanooga, TN. While in Chattanooga, I skated with many pick up teams like: Motley Brew, Team Tennessee, and Team WetBlack. I also had a short stint on Chattanooga’s Home team.
How were the other teams you played for different than Hard Knox? In what ways were they similar? What made you decide to come back to Knoxville?
The other teams I played for were very different than Hard Knox. Playing for Knoxville for so many years, I had a flow to my week with practices and bouts. It was difficult for me to adjust to new requirements, regulations, and conditioning. However, the most difficult part of playing on a new team is learning how to communicate with teammates, on the track, in a bout and at practices. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different. You learn to read your sisters--when they need someone to knock a booty out of the way, a hug, high-five, or quiet time--what makes them tick. On the flip side, I believe most derby girls across the world are looking for that fire, that competitive edge. All the teams I have played with: pick up team, for rankings, or for fun, have sharp tongues and fierce attitudes. I mean, why would we be any different? It’s a tough, passionate sport. I would wonder what was going through their mind if they weren’t feeling that way about it.
I came back to Knox because I wanted to be closer to my family and friends. What can I say, Knox was good to me.
So this will be your which season with Hard Knox?
This will be my 9th season with Hard Knox, 10th year playing. It’s so crazy to think back on all the memories. The first time I went to a bout, I was 20. My dad was a ref (GO SLEEVES) and he wanted me to come take pics. One of the girls came up to me saying that I was too young to be in suicide seating. After realizing who I was and my age, I met my first friend, Bruisey Quattro. That very next week, I was at practice skating with girls who were much older than me, that looked at me like I wasn’t going to stick with it, that I was too young and too small. From then on, not only had I acquired a lot of sisters, but people I looked up to--my heroes. On top of teaching me how to play, we had all become super tight. Like, we can’t talk about some of the things that happened on derby trips and parties, haha. Looking back on it, I was basically raised by a pack of wild, hard-loving big sisters. At least I have an excuse for my crazy antics, right?
How does it feel returning to a league you used to play for? As we all know, derby has high turnover rate. Was the adjustment difficult…as in, coming back to your old team but not knowing so many of the new faces? Did you still feel “at home” or was it like going to a new team all over again? Is it easy to slip back into the ole routine and play derby with just anyone? Was there an acclimation period in terms of trying to build chemistry with new teammates? If so, what helps with this?
I was nervous during the days building up to my first practice back. After a couple of practices in, I knew I was taken care of. Everyone, coaches and skaters alike, welcomed me and made sure I had everything I needed. I love playing with new faces, so it wasn’t difficult playing with new girls. It was difficult, however, to pick up on chemistry. I had been resting for over a year, so I needed to work off some rust for myself, as well as picking up what the girls needed on the track. I think I asked a lot of the same questions three times over. Honestly, the only thing that helps build chemistry is practicing as often as you can, and being open to making mistakes in order to make the right moves in a bout.
You are an amazing skater. You’ve got a lot of tools in your tool belt, so to speak. As Lethal put it, you’re a “ninja on skates.” She wants to know where you got your ninja-like abilities and how you see your skating develop in the future.
Thank you! When I first started playing roller derby, training newbies was done, well, differently. It was kind of like that, sink or swim, shall I say, kind of training. Pretty much I got my butt kicked, a lot. I was a baby in addition to being tiny and new, so nobody really thought I would make anything of it, so there definitely was this big sister type of bullying that happened. Not in a bad way; it just wouldn’t happen that way today. Could you imagine your big brother or sister picking on you? Imagine that with 15 older girls. Sink or swim, man, haha. But other than that, the skill-set, like in most sports, morphs into a new beast every season. The agility game is crazy! I have a lot to catch up on, and to get better at simultaneously.
To dovetail on the previous set of questions, do you have any specific goals for yourself this season?
Specific goals are to master the new ruleset, get tight with my teammates, and work on overall bench moral. I get in my head something crazy, like I’m my own worst critic. I don’t want to beat up on myself like that anymore, and I don’t want my teammates to have to take care of me like that. *Points in the mirror, mouthing “You’re a Rockstar.”
Do you prefer jamming or blocking? Why? Can you explain the physical and mental aspects of each and how these positions differ? Which position do you find more challenging to play?
I’m unsure of what happened in the year that I took off from derby, but my blocking game has come out of nowhere. I love it! Don’t get me wrong, jamming will always be where my heart lies, but blocking is like my new favorite derby mistress. We are still getting to know one another, haha. I feel like jamming is more physical that blocking, sometimes. Blocking is extremely physical if you choose to be a lone blocker. I love the mental aspect of blocking: shutting down jammers with concrete-hard walls and cool heads. Knowing how that feels as a jammer, it's soul crushing. I want to do that! Soul Crusher.. As a jammer, I mean, you may as well have a bullseye on the top of your head, so get ready for some bomber blows and Velcro burn. So yeah, they’re both challenging. I can’t pick one over the other--they’re very ebb and flow. It's dependent on your opponent--strong opposing blockers will equal the jammers having a difficult game. Strong jammers equal blockers having a difficult game.
What is your bout-day fuel? Besides water, do you use anything specific to hydrate?
Carbs overload! Pass the pasta my way, please and thank you. Of course this would be a day or so before bout day. Other than that, honestly, day of I like to chill. Clear my head, wake up when my body is ready to wake up, have a cup of coffee, listen to music, and get my mind right.
We've heard that there’s this thing called—wait for it—life outside of roller derby. What is it that you do while residing in this intriguing realm? Any fun hobbies or interests? Secret passions? Guilty pleasures?...
I do lots of things outside derby! I used to be die hard about derby. I undoubtedly still am but realized I needed to do other things to keep my love for it going after ten years. I love watching NBA games, UFC fights, going to shows--LOTS of shows--and anything outdoors: hiking, fishing, blue hole swimming. Oh yeah, I also love LOVE my little succulent babies. Can’t forget my pug, Lola, either.
We all love seeing adorable pics of Lola the pug on your social media pages. Tell us a ridiculously cute doggie story--like so cute our heads explode!
Oh, little Lollipop, she is such a ham. So Lola wants to be a friend to everyone, and since we just moved back home, she has a lot of catching up to do with our new neighbors. We like to leave the back door open for some fresh air, especially if we are hanging out on the porch. Lola runs away all the time, but she always comes back, eventually. Well, you would think like most dogs, Lola would be wandering around the yard. Not Lola. She has invited herself into most of the neighbors’ homes. If your door is open, she’s coming in and making herself comfy on the couch. Like, no joke, people don’t even question who she is now. They just let her chill and catch up on some Netflix until she decides to come home. We found this out after walking the complex a few times yelling for her, and she came running out of someone’s place. Thank goodness for nice neighbors…
You celebrated a significant birthday back in May. Happy belated birthday!!! Being a Taurus woman, you naturally have an emotionally strong, independent, yet peaceful nature about yourself. There’s no doubt that these characteristics helped carry you through life thus far. Over the years, have you gleaned any new perspectives on life? In what ways do you think you have changed or grown since your twenties? What advice can you give to young women out there who are struggling to find themselves?
I’m still not completely understanding this new age, 30? Weird. I should know what I’m doing now, right? Haha, nah. I’m good on all that. All I know is that I was WILD. How did I get away with all that? I think back on it, and a part of me is a little embarrassed. But then I think longer on it, and I realize how much FUN I had as well. While I do wish I were further along in my adulthood today, I do not regret spending my twenties having fun, making new friends, traveling with a pack of fierce women, and just…living. My advice to all the young queens out there--Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to get hurt, and to do what is best for you. People will always have the answer to what is best for you, but only YOU can decide that. Live in the moment, be mindful of yourself, feel what it is you feel, and move from it. Your body and mind are stronger than you think!
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I recently went back to school for Social Work. In the next ten years, I hope to be working in a school that specializes in students with disabilities, but I am still open to other opportunities. I wish to have some little derby babies by then as well.
Do you have a favorite vacation destination?
I love snowboarding, so one of my favorite vacation destinations is the Blue Ridge mountains. I especially love to visit Asheville, NC, so I typically make my rounds in one trip. I do love the beach, but I get really skiddish in the ocean. Have you seen that YouTube video? You’re in the sharks’ house if you go in the ocean! Haha.
Have you read any good books lately?
Have you read any of Chuck Palahniuk? What a crazy writer. He’s nuts!
Who would you like to see as next month’s featured skater, and why?
This chick, talk about tenacity. I haven’t seen a girl smile with eagerness on the jammer line in a long time like she does. She’s thirsty for roller derby, and has an amazing, uplifting, contagious love for the sport that tends to simmer after ten years. Girl, thank you for reminding me why I love this sport. April, keep smiling, and welcome to this crazy world!
Thanks for the fun and engaging interview, DD. Welcome back to Hard Knox! We're so happy to have you back on the track with us.
Until next month~