What are your thoughts on the new rules – excited about any new strategies?

I’m pretty excited about the new rules… I’ve been a supporter of the no minors rule set since the early stages.  I love how much faster and more aggressive the game seems now.  The only things we need to worry about are the things that we should actually worry about!  I was a little concerned about my penalties at first, but it’s actually been quite amazing as I’m way less penalty heavy now than ever before… most of my team have found the same to be honest.

I’m enjoying playing around with the cutting rules as a blocker… controlling the speed and location of the pack by exploiting the fact that a blocker can’t take a minor to rejoin her wall.  Also the amount of jammer defence that the new rule set has brought about is pretty exciting, especially for me as it means I get to truly block and jam at the same time – all the things!  I can’t wait until the WFTDA season really kicks off so we can see what the big girls have come up with!

What would you say is your coolest Derby experience?

I know this is a lame answer… but there are seriously so many it’s hard to pick just one.  A huge standout moment for me though has to be the very first game I captained with Billie Pistol against the London Roller Girls’ Ultraviolent Femmes (Feb 2012).  It was a huge game for us and we prepared for that game more than we ever had before… We upped our training and delved deeper into strategy… we really wanted to win that game.  It was BB’s last ever game with Tiger Bay before she moved home to Australia so it was already a big deal, and it felt like a huge milestone for us – to play in London at Earls Court against one of LRG’s intraleague teams – just a year after we started bouting?  Huge!

Sadly we didn’t win, but we did hold our own and the score ended at 146-105.  I was so proud to captain Tiger Bay that day and play that last game with BB – she has been such a massive influence in my derby progression and there’s no way I’d be so heavily involved in captaining and coaching if it weren’t for her.  Love you B!

Any top tips for rookies?

Go to practice, work hard, ask questions, watch as much footage as possible and ask more questions.  I think it’s important for newer skaters to take responsibility for their own progression and realise that it is entirely in their hands.  Your coaches, captains and fellow skaters can provide you with the tools and resources you need, but they can only take you so far.  The real hard work has to come from within – if you want it badly enough, it will happen.  Believe in yourself and try not to focus on those around you too much.  I’ve always found that skaters who compete with themselves rather than those around them tend to progress a lot quicker.  Set goals for every practice, every scrimmage and every game… and remember they don’t have to be huge goals, don’t make it too overwhelming.

Also – wear your skates around the house as much as possible.  It’s amazing how much easier skating around a hall feels when you’ve been washing the dishes and clambering up and down your stairs in skates all week.  Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for any injuries!

What does 2013 have in store for you?

A lot more derby!  Things move so fast in the derby world, that it really is hard to know what’s around the corner.  Teams are progressing really quickly and individuals are hungrier than ever to progress and be the best they can be.  It’s a really exciting time to be a part of European derby!  Personally, in 2013, I’m going to try to attend as many bootcamps as I can, watch as many games as I can and I’m pretty sure myself and some team mates are going to attend Champs in Milwaukee.  With regards to TBB, we’re going to be bouting some pretty exciting European teams this year so I’m excited about that.  We are also hoping to graduate to a full WFTDA league and begin our climb up the rankings  – that will be a huge and exciting milestone for us.

Do you have any crazy bout day rituals?

I don’t do anything crazy no, but guess I do sort of stick to a regime for our home games.  I try and have a lie in, a big breakfast, listen to some Celine Dion and then I get to the venue pretty early.  I’m usually first on track, reminding myself what the floor feels like at our bouting venue and getting used to the feel of the hall again.  I make sure that all the team are aware of important timings for the day and what is expected of them… arrival time, team meeting, warm up, first whistle etc so that everyone is prepared and there are no un-necessary moments of panic.  I generally just want the day to be as calm and organised as possible so we can focus on the important things.  It obviously helps to have such a wonderful league of dedicated individuals who are organised and prepared… it means that the team of 14 playing on the day are able to focus solely on the game.

Did you know how to skate when you went to your first derby training session and what was it like?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I attended the first ever Tiger Bay practice (April 2010).  I’d seen a recruitment flyer on Facebook and noticed that a couple of people I knew were going along.  I’m not sure exactly why I went, or what I was hoping to get out of it, but I just knew I had to go and see what it was all about as it sounded pretty ridiculous!  I couldn’t skate no, but I had a feeling I’d be alright at it.  I’m very much a ‘you can do anything if you put your mind to it’ kind of gal, so I wasn’t worried really.  About 60 people turned up and the session was really well planned out, only about 15 minutes of it was actually on skate, the rest was discussion/footage watching/kit talk/what to expect etc.  After I left that session I had no doubt that I was going to go back… I bought my full kit and skates the very next day.  I wasn’t quite sure what TBB would become, I don’t think any of us really knew.  The only thing I did know was that I had to be a part of it!

Is there anybody in Derby you look up to?

Am I able to say everybody at the London Roller Girls?  They are a huge inspiration to Tiger Bay… they are such a talented, focused, professional, organised and generous league.  They have given us a huge amount of support and some really great opportunities that we will always be thankful for.  They give so much back to European derby and we are continually learning from them thanks to their bootcamps and coaching opportunities.  Personally though, my super fave is Stefanie Mainey (sorry Raw).  I clearly remember the first time I saw her play and I was just flabbergasted… the way she moved and dominated the track was like nothing I’d seen before.  I was able to learn so much about what I could do on track just by watching her.  The crazy thing is, since I first saw her she has got about a gazillion times better!  She is constantly striving to push herself and her team further, and to get stronger and fitter.  Not only is she an awesome skater, she’s an inspiration to me both on and off track… she’s a fantastic trainer and coach and has an awesomely strategic derby brain.  She’s a positive and inspiring role model, and she’s a pretty awesome dancer too.

We know you are one of the coaches for the Tiger Bay Brawlers. What do you enjoy most about coaching?

I never set out to coach… It’s never something that I considered doing, and even when I started playing derby it was never something I aspired to do.  I did look up to BB in a huge way… the amount of knowledge she had, and the way she was able to command attention and respect from those around her.  She’s a total badass.  As my own knowledge base and confidence grew I found that people were naturally coming to me for advice and I really started to enjoy helping my team mates out… then before I knew it BB asked me to join the TBB coaching team.  It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly and I spent a few days mulling it over.  It felt like quite a big load to carry as BB was shortly returning to Australia and I imagined there would be a lot of pressure on the coaching team to fill her shoes and keep us moving in the right direction.  Obviously though, I agreed, and I am so so glad that I did.

I do come from a coaching background of sorts… My Dad currently coaches soccer at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  He has been out in the U.S.A coaching in one place or another since I was 7 years old… so it’s something that I’ve grown up around and I’ve seen first hand how much commitment and dedication goes into successfully coaching a sports team.  It has been really great to have his input and we often talk via email and Skype and he gives me some pointers and tips.  He is really passionate, dedicated and successful in what he does… I look up to him a lot.

Coaching is just great, it really is… to guide and lead a team and more importantly, a group of individuals, to success – both physically and mentally… it’s quite the feeling. I’m enjoying the coaching element of derby to such an extent that I’m currently looking into qualifications and further experience I can gain to continue coaching.  It’s something that I may look to make a career out of in the future (not just in the derby arena).  We shall see!

What are your 2013 goals?

I have many…  However, my main priority is to learn as much as my brain will squeeze in and then filter it all back to my wonderful league so we can continue to grow, and let’s not forget… win!