June Featured Skater: Armr'd Rose
Welcome back, readers! You may not have had a chance to see her yet, but once you do, you won’t forget her. She has a long derby history, skating with Cherry City Derby Girls, Rose City Rollers, Portland Men’s Roller Derby, and now us! Are you as ready as I am to penetrate the armor and get to know the inner Rose?
Mazzu chose you as the next featured skater. She wanted to know more about your progression as a skater since you have been involved in derby for a long time. The beginning attitude of derby was more of a thing just for fun and full of pageantry. More recently, the sport has begun to shed the theatrics and focus on athleticism. Mazzu wanted to know how you stayed so in love with the sport through the transition, and how you as a skater have changed from the beginning of your derby career to now.
I started in 2010. The league I started with was, and still kind of is, theatrical in the sense that they do themes and dress up for bouts. That was a big draw for me because I love costumes and make up and having fun like that. Also the competitiveness of derby drew me in. I have always played sports. The competitive aspect of it has kept me driven this whole time. I still miss and enjoy a lot of the costume part, but I like to challenge myself, my body, and how far I can take things. I want to be the best I can be and see how far that is. That was my motivator to keep with it, even after all my injuries.
What all injuries have you had?
I have broken my fib on my right leg, my tib-fib on my left leg, and I completely tore my ACL in my left leg. And I’m still here.
Tell me about your rookie year: your “baby deer” moments and how you learned to play roller derby.
I was a wall-grabber, knee-faller. I did not know how to stop at all. I would roll and grab something to stop. I really had no experience other than a little bit of rink skating when I was small. I started out very poorly. My Fresh Meat group had actually surpassed me so much that I was about a year behind them in skill level. Even though I started with them, they got drafted long before me. So it took me about a year longer than them to get drafted onto a home team.
But you kept with it.
I did; I did keep with it. That was my struggle getting with it. I had broken my legs that same year. That was with me being in Fresh Meat. My very first scrimmage I broke my right leg. I came back, and my very first scrimmage back from my injury I broke my other leg. And despite everyone telling me I should just quit (that was another motivation), I showed up to every practice with my cast and crutches. I showed up to every event with my cast and crutches. Anything I could do to help, I did. I watched. I took notes. I wanted them to see that I wanted it as bad as I did. I did not want them to see me as a quitter. It was a rough year and a half, but once I got drafted to a team it was all worth it.
Who was the first team you played for?
It was the Dolls of Anarchy. A lot of the original skaters still skate on the home teams. It is really cool to watch them. I am still their number one fan.
Who is your derby hero?
I have a handful of people I admire extremely. There were a couple old school, Rose City skaters that I enjoyed skating with and learning from: Blood Clottia is one of my favorites. She is super OG Rose City. She just kept it real. She was awesome on the track and jammed really well. She taught me a lot, even after she retired. I appreciated her a lot.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
I have this one on my phone:
“You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on. Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.”
How do you get bout ready? Do you have particular habits or rituals?
I used to years ago, but I took a bit of a break from my knee injury. Then I got married. Then I got pregnant. So one year led to another year. It was about 2 ½ years between my injury and starting up again. Before, I don’t know why, but I always had a Subway sandwich before a game. I don’t know why I felt like it was a good rounded meal. And it sounds gross, but it totally works: I drink baking soda water. It helps eliminate the lactic acids in your legs so they don’t cramp. I learned that from Lance Armstrong. I used to be really into my makeup too, but I don’t always do it anymore. I like the makeup, though. I feel like we could still have fun and be serious at the same time. It is your alter ego. It is not the you you get to be every day.
You get to be something more than yourself.
Exactly. You get to be your own superhero.
What is your current gear set up?
My name is Armr'd Rose for a reason: I have a lot of armor. I do have ankle braces that I still wear. I think it is just a pacifier, but also my boots have stretched out. If I don’t wear them, I slide around. I have Riedell’s that I love: 395s. I have Reactor plates. My favorite wheels of all time are Radar Diamonds. They are super narrow, aluminum hub wheels that I enjoy very much. I don’t get to wear them as often because of the floor here. I also love the Atom pads. They are super slim and not bulky at all. It helps me a lot with my maneuverability and ability to cross over quickly and get places without getting caught up on Velcro. And I have my S1 helmet. A friend of mine back in Oregon painted it for me. He is a tattoo artist and he put my armored rose on my helmet and did my tattoo.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering joining roller derby?
Yeah, I guess. You have to WANT it. It is a learned sport. Yeah, people can come in and it naturally clicks, but for 90% of roller derby skaters it is a learned sport. Like I was saying, I knew nothing about stopping, nothing. I’ve played against the highest level skaters around. I never dreamt I would be that level of anything. So being at the top like that just shows you it is a learned sport, but you have to want it. If I hadn’t wanted it the way I did, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did. You get out of it what you put into it.
What brought you to Knoxville?
My husband. I actually moved to Southaven, MS with my 2 older boys to live with my mom. Portland is extremely expensive, so as a single mother raising 2 boys, it was very hard to get by. We wanted to slow life down and simplify it, so we moved away. That is where I met my husband. After we got married and had our son, we didn’t feel that living close to Memphis was the best place to raise our babies. He is from this area, so we moved out here.
Knoxville is nice.
It is. And I didn’t know what to expect league wise. I did skate a little with the Memphis league, and I didn’t feel comfortable with the group. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I just felt like they maybe didn’t want me there. So I was really nervous coming into this league, and I could not be happier. I am happy with where I ended up. You guys make it easy.
So your family is a very important part of your life. Tell me a favorite thing to do with your family on non-work days?
We love being outside, especially going to pools. We like getting wet. We live by the lake, so as it warms up more, we can actually swim in the lake. We love fishing. Really anything outdoors we enjoy. Sunshine connects to peace.
You have amazing style and sew really awesomely. What brought you to that as a hobby?
Well, my ex-husband didn’t want me to work when I had my first minion. He said, “You are done working. You are staying at home.” I didn’t like that. I liked working. But being the good wife I was, I obeyed. I’m not one to just sit and do nothing. In high school, I would sew here and there, but I would just hand sew. Sewing machines terrified me: I don’t know why. But I finally got the balls to go take a class at JoAnn to learn how to use a sewing machine. It kind of just took off from there. With having small kids, I started out with a kids’ clothing line. I did that for a little while because it was weird for me to spend someone else’s money. Even though we were married, it didn’t feel right for me. I wanted something to make a little money on the side for myself and to feel like I’m contributing in some sense. Once I started playing roller derby, that transitioned into my roller derby clothing line I had for about 7 years. I stopped before I moved out to Mississippi. It started out as a bored, stay-at-home thing, and people ended up really liking it. DerbySkinz are so expensive, and I didn’t want to spend the money on them, so I would make myself shorts. Then the girls would say, “Where did you get those shorts?!” And I would say, “I made them.” I would bring bags of shorts to practice and tournaments and girls would buy them all.
Who would you like to nominate as our next feature skater?
People often say that "derby saved my soul," and it does for some. I would like to know if she were to say derby saved something for her, what would it be?
Thank you, Rose. I am very glad to have you on our team. And thank you, readers for taking the time with me to get to know one of our fiercest skaters. She wants it, and she gets it! Check us out June 2 for our first home bout where you can get to know all the girls you have been reading about over the past few months. If you can’t make it out to that one, I hope to see you in July.