September Featured Skater: Crash Cymbal
Long-term fans know her well. New fans will soon. She will crash straight into your hearts: She’s Crash Cymbal. Come check out what she had to say about roller derby, why she took a break, and how hard it is to quit once the derby bug has bitten.
Raptor nominated you as featured skater, Crash. She said that you came back a while ago, but she didn’t know a lot about you. She thinks you are cool. Raptor wanted to know how long you have been skating: when you started, when you quit, why you quit, and why you came back.
Part of it was due to me trying to get a teaching job. The final push of “this is good timing” was…I had already watched Cut (Cut N Dye) get her nose broken. I was actually in the line-up when that happened. I had seen another skater, Insecticide get whiplash. I saw a girl’s shin bone come out of her leg. I was in the penalty box and it happened right in front of me. So all these things leading up to “this is probably good timing,” and that I got MVP Jammer in the last game I played…. I was like, “This is when I’m going out. This is a good sign.” All of this sort of culminated to “this is it.” So that is why I left. Why I came back was actually because Cut N Dye said she was captain of the B Team and she was trying to recruit for the team. Cut has always done my hair, so I have always kept up with the team, but it just never worked out with timing with my job. But now that I work a normal 9 to 5, I was like, “Yes! This is it!”
We are very glad you are back, and I think you are well on your way to being MVP Jammer again.
That’s the hope. I am trying to chase that old jammer again.
You have done very well in the last few games. If any of our readers have been out to see us, they would have definitely noticed.
I still have a way to go to get back to my best six years ago. A lot has happened to me in six years. And, yeah…
When did you first start playing roller derby, and what got your attention?
That would have been nine years ago. It was right around the time when Whip It was coming out. I actually joined right around then. And, they say you find derby in these transitional periods and moments of your life. And I needed something, I just didn’t know it was a transitional moment of my life at the time. When I started playing, my ex and I were fixing to go through a break up. Derby, all my derby friends, and derby wife is what I had. That is what I looked forward to and it helped get me through it, as cliché as it sounds.
It is not at all cliché. Through doing these interviews, and my own path to derby, it seems to be a common happening.
The concept of “derby wife” might be something that is new to our readers. Who is your wife and how did that come about?
So my derby wife is ImaQuarantineU. Her real name is TaKeta. I remember how my derby wife came about. I was in a drill with her and I was helping her get through it. I was encouraging her and it was just kind of like, “Hey, I like you. Let’s be friends.” It evolved to into, “Let’s be derby wives.” Some people went through the whole thing: having derby weddings at practice, and there was like derby rings. We were just like, “Nah. You’re my derby BFF.” That is the extent it was going to go. I was trying to get her to come back, but she is doing the med school thing, so she has not time for herself or anything else.
Finding best friends is something that derby is very good for.
Yes! And I was excited to hear that people still have derby wives, but it isn’t as prominent as it was. I think I have only heard of 2 people talking about derby wives in the league: Kitty/Bleu and someone else. There are a lot of things from that phase of derby we don’t see anymore. Like the belts. I overheard someone talking about the belts. No one wears the belts anymore. That isn’t “Old School Derby,” but its older derby. I was like, “Oh, man.” I used to always have my belt on. It matched my whole music persona. Yea, but there were a lot of things, I guess, that were considered more “theatric” than “athletic.”
What position do you like to play the most?
Well, it used to always be jammer. I still like jamming, but now that I am older and I have, let’s be honest, some more weight on me, it is really fun to block people. I get a lot of satisfaction out of someone not being able to move me. At least there is a positive to the extra weight I have gained over the past six years. I still like doing a little bit of both.
Do you have any derby heroes?
I admire a lot of folks. Right now I am just learning about some of the derby heroes like Smarty Pants, Freight Train, Miracle Whips, and Lady Trample. It is this whole untapped thing. Not that derby was super theatrical back when I played before, but it was more so that it is now. So to see these women and see derby getting more exposure as a super competitive sport, and learn about them is nice. It has been fun learning who all could be my derby hero. And there are a lot of people on the team I admire, too. I wish I could skate as well as them, but a six-year break will do that.
Do you have any outshining moments from this past season? What is your favorite moment this past year?
For me it was nice when the B Team won a couple games ago. It was like everything just clicked and everyone was having a great game. I don’t remember one person being like, ‘If we change this it will be better,’ or having a bad attitude. Everything just clicked, and it was like a whole bunch of lightbulbs just going off. It was just nice to finally prove to ourselves that all of our hard work had finally paid off.
What is your goal for this next year?
Just keep getting better and better. Coming back, it has shown me what I need to work on. I am kind of getting my list ready. I definitely need to work on my endurance, and my overall well-being. So next year will probably be a lot of me forcing myself to go to the gym. And also trying to learn chemistry with the team mates. I tend to get into my own head and be kind of a loaner. I need to break myself of that.
And we will have even more people joining our team by then with our Fresh Meat program starting October 7. [see our website, Facebook, and Instagram for more information]
Do you have any advice for people thinking about joining derby?
Just do it. I did a lot of research the first time around. There was not nearly the presence then as there is now. See if it is for you. Come to a practice; come check it out. It is way fun. And it doesn’t matter if you feel out of shape or old or whatever. We have all kinds of body shapes and ages that are successful in their own way. Just do it.
It really takes all body types.
It does. You have your super-quick, tiny people who get through holes as jammers, and you have your bigger folks who block. But the bigger folks do really well as jammers because they make their own holes. It can be done. Any type, any age. And if I can come back after six years of NOT DOING ANYTHING AT ALL PHYSICAL, it can be done. I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t. After about a month, it gets better.
So something that I always find interesting is where people get their derby names. You mentioned earlier being interested in music. Where did your name come from?
I was going to be a music teacher. I was getting my teacher’s license when I first started derby, but my path did not take me there. I actually considered changing my derby name this year, but I didn’t think of anything change it to before my ‘come back.’ I have done music my whole life, and I had wanted to teach it. I played drums in high school, so that is kind of where it came from.
I have noticed the resurgence of your star makeup at our last bout.
I did that because the theme was 80s, and I was like, “Yes! A perfect time to bring it back.”
It is very Gem.
Yes! That is exactly why I did it. Gem and the Holograms. Since my whole derby persona was like music and 80s, it was kind of like Kiss/David Bowie/ but mostly Gem and the Holograms. That is why I was rocking pink hair too. It was kind of a combination of her hair and the Misfits from the show. It went through several stages. I looked at lots of pictures of the Holograms and the Misfits to get it exactly right. I got to meet Gem at a Fanboy. I showed her pictures and said, “I modeled my derby persona after this.” And she said, “are you serious?!” and I said, “Yes!” She was like, “That is the first time I have heard that one.”
A lot of our fans may have noticed you signing the National Anthem this year. How did you learn sign language?
My mom taught at the Tennessee School for the Deaf for 20-odd-something years, and I grew up with it always doing it out of habit. I picked a lot of it up at home just going to school and hanging out with her. It proved really in handy when I had my tonsils out and lost my voice, or whatever. It is a really useful skill to have.
Do you have any particular songs that amp you up before a bout?
I have a derby play list. It has Rob Zombie, Pink, Elle King, just a lot of 80’s rock. Oh, and I have a Rue Paul song on there. That is super fun. It is just an eclectic mix of happy, pumped up music that gets you ready to hit people.
What is your gear set-up?
I have Riddell 1065s with Revenge plates. My pads are 187s and Triple 8s. My helmet is an S1. I actually got a new helmet for this season. My wheels for practice are 97 Lowboys. For game day, Asphalt Beach (Nashville) talked me into getting 89s and 91s. I never mixed my wheels before: I never understood it, but they suggested it given how I described the Convention Center’s floor. I like them.
Thanks for sitting down with me, Crash Cymbal. Now it is your turn to pick who will be the next, and the last featured skater for the 2018 season.
I would like to nominate Southern Harm. I would like to know where her name comes from. I am from the south and am just kind of interested.
Come check out Crash Cymbal and the whole gang September 29 for our last home bout of the season! If you are interested in learning how to play derby, join us for our Fall Fresh Meat 9 weeks course starting October 7 (no prior skill or knowledge is necessary). Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date and in the know. Until next time…