Saturday night will see one of the biggest competitions of the year
come to a close, in what we can only hope is a knockdown-dragout
finale. The Salt City Derby Girls championship game (and final
match of the 2010 season) will take place tomorrow evening at The
Salt Palace, bringing their sixth year in existence to a thrillingly
bruised and beaten conclusion. Its been a hell of a year for the
group seeing changes in teams, not to mention what may be the first
three-peat in the league's history.
Coming into the event will be the defending champions, Leave It To Cleavers. Being the upsetting underdogs in 2008 and retaining defenders of 2009, the harsh-hitting housewives look to be the first team in SCDG history to take the title home three years in a row. But standing in their way are this year's comeback kids, The Death Dealers. A team that's been constantly out of contention for championships over the years, the persistent ninjas stealthily climbed their way to the top to remain undefeated this year and are looking to assassinate their opponent's chances. Prior to game time, I got to chat with both the team's captains about their time in the SCDG, their respective teams, tomorrow's match and thoughts on roller derby.
Smack and DeckHer & DangerLove
Gavin: Hey gals! First off, tell us a bit about yourselves.
S&D: My name is Katie Woslager, or better known as Smack and DeckHer on the track. I moved to Utah three years from Boise, Idaho and love it so far. I work for the Utah Division of Arts & Museums as the Grant Manager. I love skating and I love art!
DL: I am 35, married and eight months pregnant with my first baby. I used to be a Professional Figure Skater. I have a Bachelors Degree from U of U in Health Promotion & Education. Currently work full time as an Executive Assistant for a Fortune 500 Company. I love dogs.
Gavin: How did you both take an interest in roller derby and what made you want to join?
DL: Since I have always either ice skated or roller bladed I thought this would be somewhat similar and fun. I saw the ad for tryouts in the Salt Lake Tribune.
S&D: I played soccer in Boise, both indoor and outdoor and became involved here as well. At the time, I did it to meet new people and get in physical exercise at the same time. After a while, I wanted something more and began to look for other activities to get involved in. I saw and ad for roller derby tryouts and made the decision to tryout. I had never heard about it before, or watched it, and thought it sounded interesting, another avenue to meet friends. It is funny because I was roller girl for Halloween one year and bought a pair of $5 dance skates at the thrift store. I dug these skates out of storage, skated around my linoleum kitchen a few times, and then showed up for tryouts and made it!
Gavin: What were your first tryouts like, and what was it like finally joining the SCDG?
S&D: Tryouts were scary! I had no idea what I was getting myself into! It was pretty intimidating watching all these girls skating around. There were about twenty people at the initial tryout. We split into two groups and did our timed laps and our skills assessment. Watching people fall, miss the skill, made part of the process a bit uncertain. However, everyone was so encouraging and nice, they made me feel comfortable and at ease. The hardest part of the tryouts was waiting for the phone call to hear if I made the cut or not. When I finally joined SCDG, I fell in love. I wanted more and more! It is definitely true that you become addicted to the sport.
DL: The girls were really nice when I tried out. Had feelings of what am I getting myself into to and there’s no going back. Once I joined I loved learning about each of the girl’s derby names. Almost every name has meaning or a great story behind it. The practices made me forget about challenging days at work.
Gavin: Over the years how was it competing in the league and for your respective teams?
DL: Over the years I have loved competing with my team and against other girls on the league. We all train together so when we compete against each other you know what to expect from each girl. It’s different as an All Star/Shaker though and competing against another league... don’t know really know what to expect from each girl, you learn quickly in that bout. The reason I keep coming back is I Love my Team!
S&D: I have been a member of the league for three years now. I enjoy skating with the league and my individual team. As a member of the All Star team for 2 years, I have seen the bigger picture and league goals and on a smaller scale on my team as I have helped make those goals for the team.
Gavin: How did you both end up becoming captains for each team?
S&D: We vote each year on a new team captain. I was voted in after my first season as a team member. It is nice to have the support of your team members behind you to lead your team.
DL: I was nominated for Captain and voted in by my teammates.
Gavin: How is it for each of you training with your teammates and essentially busting their asses to be the best?
DL: I like to skate with my teammates and push them or use them to push myself. I liked skating next to a fast jammer and trying to keep up or pass them. It’s difficult to add extra private practices in each week/month, we all have lots going on at home or work. Each practice consist of extra time and money from the girls.
S&D: I am kind of a hard ass. I work hard, train hard, and expect the same from my team. Sometimes I am a little too rigid as I have high expectations. Other leagues across the country practice five days a week, if I could do that with my league and with my team, I would do it! However, people with children and families, often struggle with the commitment. We practice as a league on Monday, doing skills/drills and endurance and on Thursday we scrimmage each other. For extra practice, our team has private practice at a local skating rink, once a week before an upcoming bout, in addition to league practice. There are also a number of league members and girls from my team that train with a personal trainer, Surba Tucker, at ATP Fitness twice a week as well.
Gavin: DeckHer, The Death Dealers are coming into this having struggled over the years between 3rd and 4th place, now the team has a shot at the title. How hard has that stigma been on the team?
S&D: I don’t think people really look at it as a stigma. I see it as an opportunity to become better. It is a starting point. If you aren’t the best, it gives us a goal to become the best! The Dealers are excited to be competing for the league title. It should be an exciting bout!
Gavin: What did you do collectively to improve your game and essentially bring yourselves to the championship?
S&D: During private practices we work on strategies that we utilize during our scrimmages. Often we mix things up so people don’t know all our secrets! I think we are very dynamic as a team though, we can all play all positions, some better than others, and that allows you to understand the game better and how you can be a better player yourself.
Gavin: DangerLove, the Cleavers have two titles under their skirts and looking at a third. How has it been for you being the team to beat the past couple seasons?
DL: I can definitely sense the fight from other teams. When you are on top you’re the team to beat and others are gunning to take your place.
Gavin: So far no team has taken three championships in a row. Is there any pressure on the team to achieve that marker or have you put that thought out of your minds?
DL: I sense our newer girls feel pressure as if they have to live up to some expectation. There is not an expectation for our team to win but to only skate their best, stay focused and have fun. The past two seasons I didn’t feel any pressure to win. I also never went in feeling like we were going to win. Winning was an extra bonus.
Gavin: What are your thoughts going into the championship, both from your respective teams and yourselves as captains?
S&D: I am excited for our team for this bout. I think our team is prepared for the challenge. RollHer Kitty, my Co-Captain, and I have spent extra time at private practices preparing for this bout. We have three veterans that are retiring that I know of, Bombshell Bruiser, who has been with the league for five years, Movin’ Violation, who has been with the league for four years, and Chase N’ Tail, who is leaving after her third season. We actually were fresh meat together. This bout if anything, will be a great end of the season finale for these girls.
DL: Going into the Championships I want the Cleavers to remember why they do this. Their blood, sweat, tears, time and financial commitments all come down to this moment that they will never forget. Have fun and bring it.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what's your take on the way roller derby has grown in appeal and participation around the state?
DL: My take is it’s getting a bigger fan base. I think Utah has come a long way with participation over the three years I have been doing this. There seems to be more girls interested in tryouts each year.
S&D: I think it is amazing and certainly very encouraging. It definitely shows that there is an appeal for the sport. With the increase in interest and growth, I can definitely see more leagues popping up around the state and it becoming pretty competitive.
Gavin: What's are your thoughts on the other local leagues around the state and the work they've done to promote the sport?
S&D: I think it is great to have other leagues in the state. It shows the strength in the sport and that it is growing exponentially. A lot of states have had an initial league that started the sport in their state and then others bridging on that knowledge have left to start their own leagues. Colorado is a good example, Denver has multiple teams and those teams are all highly ranked in the western region. It is because they are able to compete against each other and practice to improve the sport. I see it as an opportunity for collaborative growth and healthy competition.
DL: I think the other Utah local leagues have done a great job recruiting and competing with SCDG teams. Not everyone can drive from Ogden to SLC to practice two times a week. When we bout with the other Utah leagues we are both promoting the event.
Gavin: How is it for you competing against some of those leagues and seeing how other women are at the same skills?
DL: I think it’s great to compete against other leagues and see their skills. This only makes us better for the next bout. We learn more each time we bout another league.
S&D: It is good to compete against other leagues. I enjoy attending their bouts and supporting the sport as a whole, as they do for us, and gaining additional derby knowledge. People who are better than you skill wise only improve your game. On the other hand, if those girls are not as strong skill wise, it encourages them to get better as well.
Gavin: With the growth in competition and fandom, do you believe Roller Derby has found its new era, or does it still have some growing to do before it reaches that point?
S&D: I think that roller derby has found a new era, but it is definitely still emerging. Growth still needs to happen and awareness. I often talk to people in Utah and they have no idea that roller derby exists. When I visit Idaho and talk about derby, people say the same thing. What is great about that newness of the sport, is that it has room to grow.
DL: I think it still has growing to do. It would be nice to be paid to skate or have travel and equipment paid for. A lot of girls leave each year to devote their time and money in other things. It would be wonderful to have girls stay on longer, I think it would help the fans be more involved.
Gavin: Last year the film “Whip It” was released. What were your thoughts on the film and the way it portrayed roller derby today?
DL: I thought the film was great. You never know what girl is really going to excel in this sport. Also shows that size does not matter. In the end though it’s a team strategy mixed with skill. dedication and hard work.
S&D: “Whip It” was a cute story with roller derby in it. As far as the portrayal of roller derby, some aspects of it were true and others were not that accurate. I think that having a movie shown in the mainstream definitely brings awareness to the sport on a bigger level.
Gavin: What can we expect from both of you after the season ends?
S&D: On Monday, October 18th, I am headed to Massachusetts for a vacation with my mother. I am not even going to take a break! I am packing my skates and will be skating with the Pioneer Valley Roller Derby girls in North Hampton, MA. I may even try to go and skate in New Hampshire, which is not too far away, and also in Connecticut, where my aunt lives. As far as my future with SCDG, I intend on staying with the league. I am excited to see what the league has planned. We will see… I may take a break too. My decision has not been made just yet.
DL: For me I hope a healthy baby. I will see how I feel after the baby is born and if I have a burning itch to still skate. I can’t imagine being away from all the wonderful friends I have made.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
DL: Yes, be sure and checkout our Leave It To Cleavers 18 month calendar on sale at the SCDG Merchandise Booth. There are some fine looking Cleaver housewives!
S&D: Yes, I want to thank our team sponsor, Carson Elevator for the past twp years of support. I also want to encourage those that want to increase their level of fitness, that they consult the team at ATP Fitness. Surba Tucker has been an amazing asset to training derby girls!
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