Hard Knox Rollergirls

The Hard Knox Roller Girls are Knoxville's first and only competitive WFTDA roller derby league.  Come see what all the fuss is about.

October Featured Skater: Killer Queen

She's a fast and furious addition to the league who is just wrapping up her rookie season. Who is number 17 you ask? "She's dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind--anytime..." That's right, it's Killer Queen! 

Did this hell-on-wheels derby bruiser know how to skate before she joined the team? Does she enjoy other forms of going fast and turning left? Wanna know what some of her biggest challenges were this season, or are you curious as to what she'll dress up like for Halloween? Well then if so, pour yourself a nice cup of pumpkin spiced whatever, kick off your shoes, and enjoy this captivating article about this month's featured skater, Killer Queen. 


Please share with the fans how you got your start in roller derby. What is your favorite part about it? Did you already know how to skate when you joined?

I was always intrigued by derby but was honestly scared to death to try it. I skated a lot as a teen. My mom picked me up from NC and brought me to Maryville every weekend, so I was a total rink rat at the old Skatetown. All I could ever do was skate really fast in a circle, get really sweaty, and crash into the wall to stop. Last year when I met you, Space Riot, at a ramp jam party at my boyfriend's house I thought to myself, ‘who the heck is this crazy girl and how is she so good at skating?? And why is she so loud and friendly to me??' I recall that after some serious coaxing, you totally talked me into coming to a practice. My first couple of sessions were rough. I was out of shape, my old skates were way too big and janky, and I was terrified and awkward as hell. Buuuut, then I got sucked in and spent a ton of money on new gear and that's when the obsession started... 

Haha, yea. What a fun night. I'm extremely glad we met! So tell us about your gear set up.

Right now, I'm rolling on Riedell Wicked boots, Rival plates and Halo wheels—a total newbie setup. It has taken me a while to learn the difference in wheel durometers, truck tension, and proper lacing so my feet don't cramp and seize up. I'm already in need of different boots and lighter plates. Hopefully I'll be investing in some Antiks soon... I started learning how to do basic skills at the skatepark in my derby skates and realized that I needed an entirely different set up for that--mostly so I didn't destroy my boots. I built a pair of park skates several months ago, and it has taught me a ton about how to set up skates for your skating style. They're totally different from my derby skates. I took an old pair of sneakers and reinforced the soles with hand cut stainless steel inserts, bought some gently used plates and mounted them to the shoes, then added some Chicks in Bowls sliders, that help with stalls and grinds (which I will master soon). Then I bought a set of 3" skateboard trucks for more stability, and I finished off the build with super hard Moxi trick wheels for low resistance and speed. I could obsess on skate builds all day and will more than likely be upgrading both of my set ups during the off-season. 

Photo by: Rusty Riot 

Photo by: Rusty Riot 

Of all the skateparks you’ve visited, which was the most fun to shred? Do you have a dream park that you’d like to make a journey to one day?

Oh man, the humongous outdoor park in Louisville, Kentucky was amazing. I would love to go back there considering my skill set has grown so much since my first trip. I couldn't even drop into the mini ramp there a year ago, so I could totally tear that place up now. I heard there are a ton of rad parks in Cali, as well as a huge trick skate scene, so one day I would love to make a trip out there and check it out.

Remember when we met that chick from Germany earlier this year who was traveling the States on skates? She was amazing. I really enjoyed that day, the three of us skating together, and then you and me learning all about her journey. Since then, I have been following her on Instagram and keeping up with all her rad skate travels. I think at this point she's somewhere in Hawaii. I would love to do a park tour/skate road trip like that. Thanks for the inspiration, Vera! 

Yea, meeting Vera was totally awesome. She was a really cool chick who was so enthusiastic about skating! Speaking of encouraging and motivating people, who are some of the top roller derby skaters from D1 and D2 teams that you look to for inspiration?

Ugh, Lady Trample of course. She's an amazing jammer as well as a super rad ramp skater and founder of Chicks in Bowls. I squee every time she “likes” or comments on my stuff on social media. A few others are Miracle Whips, Lexi Lightspeed, Scald Eagle, and so many more. Every time I watch derby, I get inspired to try new footwork and get chills thinking about being at a higher playing level; it definitely drives me to wanna learn more. I hope to go to Vegas for RollerCon one year and nerd out on all things roller derby! 

You have to describe the experience of learning how to play roller derby to someone in five sentences or less, and go…

It's definitely not easy, especially if you're uncomfortable on your skates, but the more you're on eight wheels, the more things just start to click. You're gonna make mistakes, and you're gonna get smashed super hard to where you have to catch your breath for a sec, but you can't get discouraged. Everyone on the team is there to help you, and if you keep an open mind and are willing to take some constructive criticism, you will progress so fast. It's an all-around learning experience: mentally, physically, and emotionally. You just have to keep pushing yourself, listen to your coaches, keep trying new skills, keep your head up, and know that your hard work will pay off. 

Do you identify more as a jammer or a blocker? Why?

This is a tough one. I guess if I had to choose playing just one position, I would choose being a jammer. It's a total adrenaline rush. Your success as a jammer definitely depends on the skills and awareness of your blockers, too. I'm still working on learning both positions, but I need to get my edges and track awareness honed in so I can be a better blocker, as well. I feel like I can focus more on what I'm doing when I jam, but I would like to work on being a more well-rounded player so that I can use the skills for both positions when playing either position. 

Photo by: John M. Blood 

Photo by: John M. Blood 

What goals did you have for yourself this season, and do you feel that you achieved any of them?

I really needed to work on balance and footwork this year. I feel like I have come a long way in a short time, but there are still a ton of things I need to focus on: plow stops, my mental game, communication, and regrouping, just to name a few. I wouldn't be at the level I am now without the guidance of our Skater Coaches and encouragement from my teammates. I plan to work on strength training and drilling the rules in the off-season so I'm set up strong mentally and physically for next year. 

Tell us what you think has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your derby career thus far.  

Honestly, not being so hard on myself. I'm only in my second year of derby, technically my first full season. I fall a lot, I get dumb penalties, and I'm still honing my skills and knowledge so I just have to tell myself that it's okay to be wobbly. Every time I skate, I learn something new. The vets are so good at explaining rules and strategy. And if they see me doing something wrong or know of a better method, they tell me and I try to apply it as best I can. It's a constant learning experience, which also helps keep things interesting. 

Photo by: Rebecca Sword 

Photo by: Rebecca Sword 

If your life were portrayed as a song title, what would it be, and why?

Oh man, haha this is tough. I don't think I can pick just one... I feel like so many songs hit home with various stages of my life. The Wild One by Suzi Quatro is how I would envision my feminine badassness. Haha! Turbo Lover by Judas Priest cause I mean... Priest. That song is so powerful and sexy to me. Time For Me to Fly by REO Speedwagon because there have been many points in my life where I have just needed to let go and move on. Promises and The Waiting Room both by Fugazi when I get all weird and antsy. Gah, there are so many... anything fast and loud. That's me. 

You went to the Muddy Roots Music Festival last month. How was it? Who was your favorite act?

Piñata Protest was amazing. They're a Texas based punk band with tons of energy with mariachi flair. The lead singer plays an accordion! Joe Buck Yourself was another good show, as well as ANTiSEEN and Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Too many rad bands to name! 

We’ve heard you ride a motorcycle. How is that similar to being on skates? How is it different? Does that type of balance translate to flat track roller derby?

I've been riding motorbikes long before my skating career began. I love anything that I can get an adrenaline rush from. I actually flat track raced a few years ago with barely any training, and got third place in both of my races. Skating and riding are similar in the sense of balance and weight distribution. When on my bike, I shift my weight and use my knees for leverage when cornering. It's somewhat the same as being on the track on roller skates. I'm also not too afraid to crash or bail, so I tend to push my limits maybe more than I should. What can I say, I love turning left really fast. Haha!

Photo by: Billy Bailey 

Photo by: Billy Bailey 

What do you plan to do to keep yourself busy and in shape during the off-season?

I'd love to do some hiking and backpacking. Carrying a forty-pound pack is definitely one helluva workout. I’ll be getting in tons of skatepark time and learning some sweet new ramp tricks. I'd also like to go on a long motorcycle ride at some point and do some hard riding. Talk about a quad workout!

Autumn is in full swing. The leaves are crisp, the night’s sky clear, and there’s a hint of magic in the air. It’s a spooktacular time of the year. What do you plan on doing for Halloween? How are you dressing up?

Oh man, I usually go all out for Halloween. Haha! Not sure what I'm gonna transform myself into this year. In the past, I have been Lieutenant Dan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Donald “Tramp,” and Linda Blair. I've always wanted to be Hatchet Face from Crybaby, so that may be this year's work, or maybe Ozzy because when I wear those round glasses, I look just like 'em. Haha!

Photo by: Billy Bailey 

Photo by: Billy Bailey 

Now that you've completed your rookie season, what advice do you have for derby newbies? Are there any particular encouraging words of wisdom that you'd like to bestow upon them? 

Just pay attention. If you have questions about something, ask them! It's definitely intimidating when you first start skating with the league, or at least it was for me. Once you get a couple of practices under your belt and get to know the girls, that intimidation slips away, but definitely listen to your coaches and fellow skaters. If there's a skill or a rule that you don't understand or that you struggle with, pull someone aside, and they'll be happy to help you. We're a team, and we want and need everyone to be successful. All these girls—myself included—are here to help you. Just let loose, try some crazy stuff, brush up on the rules and strategy, and set some goals for yourself! It's a lot of work, but if you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen. 

Which moment was the highlight of your rookie season?

Getting to jam for the Allstars, totally. It was such an honor. I was a nervous wreck, though. I felt like I was gonna puke and collapse at the same time. Haha! I had to get myself together and focus on my footwork and powering though the pack. I fell a lot, got the hell beat out of me, and got some dang track cuts, but it helped me learn so much in such a short time. I actually got out and scored some points! My teammates provided amazing offense for me, which definitely made my task easier. Man, what a rush. A killer way to close out the season! 

Photo by: Rebecca Sword 

Photo by: Rebecca Sword 

As the 2017 season has officially wrapped up, this will be our last Featured Skater article for the year, but to carry on the tradition, whom would you like to see as the first featured skater in 2018? Please tell us why.  

I wanna know more about my fellow hairstylist teammate, Cut N Dye. She taught me so much when I first started and for that, I will always be grateful. She's been in the league forever, and I wanna hear about her humble beginnings. I also wanna know what life is like living with Coach Chris. Love ya, Cut!


Well alrighty, Killer Queen. That's all the questions I have for ya. Thanks so much for all the fun answers and interesting details about your life. I'm so glad we met and that you found roller derby because of it. You are an amazing skater; I really think you found your niche. 

I'd like to give a BIG "thank you" shout out to all our readers out there for keeping up with us during our wonderful 2017 season. Enjoy yourselves during the holidays, and be sure to check back in with us in 2018! 

Derby love,

~Space Riot

 

 

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