My derby origin story
Two years ago I was 35. My husband and I were coming home from a road trip and were making road trip conversation. It came up that we were almost 40. Forty. How did that happen? Have we really been adulting this long? We started talking about the things we wish we had done in our 20’s. Just random risky things that we didn’t have time for because we were too busy trying to be grown ups. We had been going to school, getting married. buying a house, having a child. All the adulty things that we chose to do instead of the silly, impulsive, potentially irresponsible things. We decided to make a “before 40 bucket list” of things we wish we had done, but still want to do. First on my list: Try out for the Charm City Roller Girls. I don’t really know why. I didn’t know anyone who skated. I had never been to a game. Hell, I hadn’t roller skated since I was probably 7 years old. I had seen their posters and checked out their website. Derby girls seems so bad ass and I wanted to glimpse that world. Mind you, my goal was just to try out. I figured I’d do my best, probably be terrible, never make the league, possibly get laughed at, but high-five myself for trying something new.
Checking it off my list.
I looked at their website and found the date of the next tryout. As if by kismet, it was just a few weeks away. Again. I knew nothing of derby, equipment, skates, rules. I was Jon Snow. I knew nothing. I showed up by myself armed only with my son’s skateboarding pads and helmet. Again, I was just going to try out. Luckily, kind skaters loaned me proper gear. And I rented skates. Jon. Snow.
“Are you nervous?”
A younger girl asked me. She seemed to be. No. I was not nervous, because again, I was here to check something off my bucket list. “I’ve been practicing for months,” she said. Shit. Now I’m nervous. What had I gotten myself into? And so tryouts began. We skated laps, worked on stops, falls, footwork, and moving together in a pack. I remember being told that the most important thing was having a positive attitude. Listening. Trying your best. The more I did it, the more I wanted it. I tried. I tried my very best at each and every skill. I wasn’t able to do all the things, but I gave it my absolute all. It was three hours of pushing myself to do things I had never done. On skates.
At the end of tryouts I was exhausted but exhilerated. I had met and bonded with a fantastic group of women. We were told by coaches that we would get our results via email by midnight that night. I was happy with myself for trying and made peace with probably never putting skates on again. I wanted it so badly for the other girls though.
Sure enough, I heard my phone ding right before midnight that night. I was in bed. Because I’m old and had just skated for three straight hours. Through my blurry sleep eyes I saw the word “Congratulations.” I was convinced it was a mistake. I was the girl that showed up in stupid tiny pads and rented skates; I was the girl who fell constantly and couldn’t skate backwards; the one who could only skate 20 laps in five minutes. I was also a girl who tried hard and listened to instruction and gave it my very best.
I.Made. The. League. Not only did I try out, I became a Charm City Roller Girl. Holy Shit.
Over the past two years I’ve fallen head over heals (literally and figuratively) for this sport. For the people. It’s become such a part of me that I don’t know how I existed without it. It’s my family.
I’ve never been stronger physically or emotionally. I have more than friends. I have a pack. I’m proud of the skin I’m in. I’m confident. I’m happy. All because on a whim I randomly wandered into a Charm City Roller Girls open try-out at Skate Land, and never looked back.
That’s my derby orgin story. What’s yours? It might start here: https://www.missiontix.com/events/product/34745
“Whoa! That was awesome … what just happened?”
If you’ve said these words while watching a roller derby game, you are not alone! There’s a lot happening out there on the track, and it can be hard to keep up. Free Radical, a member of the Junkyard Dolls and the CCRG All Stars, offers up this list of moves to look for during your next bout! To get the best view, get trackside seats for our upcoming game so you never miss a jam!
What to Look for While Watching Roller Derby
by Free Radical
Derby isn’t just about big hits anymore! Sometimes it’s enough just to be in the right place at the right time. Positional blocking isn’t about moving an opponent out of the way, but more about keeping them from doing what they want to do. Sometimes called “booty blocking,” this move often involves one player keeping her opponent behind her booty, to keep her from moving wherever she wants to go.
Signals from bench staff
Skaters on the track may communicate with their bench coaches in the middle of a jam. Most often, you’ll see this when a bench manager tells a jammer (the skater wearing a star on her helmet) to call the jam off at a certain moment. Look for the bench coach (standing by the team bench, not wearing skates) to make the signal for a jam call-off (tapping hands on hips), then the jammer calling it off.
A backwards bracer
Jammers use the strength of their legs to push a blocker forward (out of the pack where it’s no longer legal to block) or to make space to get through. Watch for jammers to do this by standing up on their toe stops (rubber stoppers at the front of their skates) rather than on their wheels. When a jammer is pushing hard against a blocker, a second blocker may assist in stopping the jammer. She can do this by turning around to skate backwards and offering her hands or chest to her teammate, to get the stopping power of two skaters, not just one!
Rather than pushing straight forward, jammers may move laterally to shift the pack enough that they find or make a hole for themselves. They may also try to fool blockers into following them one direction, then shifting to another. For example, jammers may approach the pack toward the outside edge of the track, especially on turns. When opposing blockers follow a jammer there, they may leave the inside edge of the track open, and a jammer will make a quick direction change to cut in to the inside edge and scoot by. These jammers may be assisted by their own blockers performing “a clear.”
One team’s blocker can clear a lane for her jammer by moving one or more opposing blockers out of the way at just the right moment. Watch for a blocker to make a move, then her jammer to follow quickly behind. Bonus points if you can spot communication between that blocker and jammer – eye contact, a hand signal, or a few words.
A star pass
The jammer for one team takes the star helmet cover off and hands it to her team’s pivot (the skater wearing a stripe on her helmet). The pivot then puts the star cover on her helmet, and becomes her team’s jammer for that jam. This may be done to catch the opposing team off guard, to keep the jam going with a set of fresh legs, or to help release a jammer from the pack. Bonus points if you spot a star that is passed over the entire opposing pack!
Don’t forget to bring a date — take advantage of our sweetheart deals, and impress your crush with your knowledge of the game!
Charm City Roller Girls truly love Baltimore. This city is more than just our namesake, it’s part of who we are! Hence, CCRG’s new hashtag, #bmorecharming. We asked members of our league family to share what #bmorecharming means to them, and we think you’ll find the responses both fun and inspiring … a lot like our dear city!
To me, #bmorecharming is my opportunity to represent one of the top roller derby teams in the world. I moved to Baltimore from Miami in June 2014, and have been working my tail off to improve upon my skills in order to even TRY and be as awesome as all these wonderful ladies that I have the opportunity to skate with. #Bmorecharming is about growth and moving forward in my derby career, with the help of some spectacular skaters.
-50 Shades of Pain, Mobtown Mods
#bmorecharming is about promoting the essence of the Charm City Roller Girls. We work hard, we play hard, and we build each other up. We are closely tied to the community and want what’s best for the City of Baltimore. I chose Baltimore for a couple of reasons, and the Charm City Roller Girls are one of them. This is my family. Baltimore is my home. – I.M. Pain, Night Terrors
It’s about keeping things safe and fair. It’s about doing better every time you go out there. It’s about teaching and helping skaters be their best. – Admiral Mayhem, Referee
Ever since the 1st little girl ran up to me after a bout complimenting me for being “so shiny,” I have tried to #bmorecharming by painting my face in silver with cyborg rivets and usually skating in something shiny. To me, it has always been about inspiring and entertaining the kids. -Allie B. Back, Speed Regime
Photos by Down’n’Out Photography
What do you call roller derby without referees? We don’t know, but we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t work. Roller derby depends on volunteer officials (some off skates and some on) to enforce the rules, track penalties, keep score, run the penalty box, set up the track, and help keep everyone safe. Basically, without them, there’s no game.
To help you become an educated fan of our favorite sport, CCRG ref Admiral Mayhem answers our questions about what derby officials do! Read this educational Q&A, then show off your derby savvy at our next bout: July 12 at The Garden’s Ice House.
Admiral Mayhem: First, let me just say that all views and opinions are my own and in no way should they reflect upon the WFTDA, Officials, Charm City Roller Girls affiliated Officials or Charm City Roller girls. They are solely my personal views and opinions and should be taken only as such with no consequence to anyone else.
Miss Dirt: How would you describe the experience of being a derby ref?
Admiral: Being a ref for roller derby is such a unique experience in this sport. I feel like I am in the calm of the storm. Especially when I am working the inside of the track with derby girls racing around each other. The mindset of being a ref is this stressful calm as well. Keeping your mind clear to think of all the rules, enforcing safety, watching for penalties, keep the game fair and fun can be immensely stressful. Some people joke that I have one of the best spots in the house to watch the game, but the fact is that I don’t see the score or pay attention to who is winning and losing. I am doing so many other things that those fall to the side. I do watch derby from time to time and take breaks to watch, but I’m usually off duty and not reffing in order to do so. I personally love officiating. I find great enjoyment in it and love the sport and am very happy to be involved.
Photos by Down’n’Out Photography
MD: How did you decide to become a ref, and how long have you been involved in the league?
Admiral: I’ve been involved with Charm since about 2011. I started as a skater. As I became more proficient at skating and derby, I was able to go to scrimmage practice and start blocking. I quickly realized that getting hit and hitting others was not for me. During that time I was helping out as a Non Skating Official, learning the rules and helping anywhere I could. I became a ref because I still love skating and wanted to be involved. Not only do I officiate on skates, I am also able to officiate off skates. NSOing is wonderful to do if you are starting out or dislike skating. NSOing is also incredibly important in order to keep track over everything that is going on.
MD: What’s one rule you really wish everyone understood?
Admiral: There are so many! Right now it is star pass procedures because the new rule set has made them more complicated and easier to achieve at the same time.
MD: So, could you tell me in your words how a star pass works? I was sitting with some new derby fans during the last bout, and they were pretty confused by that, and I could barely explain it to them.
Admiral: Let’s pretend that you are the jammer for my team and that I’m the pivot (the skater with the stripe on their head). A star pass occurs when the jammer hands their pivot the jammer’s helmet cover (the cover with the star on it.)This hand off has to be hand-to-hand. As the jammer, you can’t throw it to me or pass it to someone else to give to me. Also, the pass has to happen while we are both upright, inside the track boundaries, and not penalized. You can’t transfer the rights as jammer and all the powers thereof to a person that has to go sit a penalty for 30 seconds. So, having done all these things correctly, the jammer is able to give their pivot their position and powers. This transfer happens at the handoff. When you take the star off your helmet, you become an inactive jammer. When you hand it to me legally and LET GO, I become the inactive jammer and you become a blocker. When I finally put the cover on my head, I’m a real jammer! This last point of wearing the cover is very important, because you can’t score points if you aren’t wearing the helmet cover.
Photos by Down’n’Out Photography
MD: I hear one of the best parts of being a ref or NSO is that you’re needed practically everywhere and get to visit a lot of different places/leagues. Have you gotten to do much travel as an official? What’s that been like?
Admiral: Very true. This is really my first year focusing on traveling to other leagues and participating away from home. It’s been an invaluable experience learning from other officials and also experiencing the style of gameplay of other leagues. I personally think the best part of officiating is pointing and yelling at people 😉
MD: I know officials aren’t supposed to get hit, but that does seem to happen sometimes. How risky is your job?
Admiral: I’m not going to say that being an official is not risky, both for skating officials (SO) and non-skating officials (NSOs). We are all involved in a contact sport with people hitting each other on 8 wheels. Things can get dangerous. But as an official, the risk of injury is much lower as an SO and even lower as an NSO. But things happen. As an NSO that is working the penalty box, if the penalized skater coming in is going too fast when they sit in the chair, and they can go flying back and hit you (this can get a penalty by the way, and if it is bad enough it is an ejection.) The risk of getting injured or hit as an NSO is very, very small, but always a possibility. As a skating official, the risk is higher. We are on skates and in the thick of it with skaters. Technically, SOs are not supposed to get hit and there are penalties to enforce that, but things happen. I tend to jump over a lot of skaters who miss a hit and fall to the inside of the track. I’ve been hit a few times, and once where I got the wind knocked out of me. I know of other SOs who have been seriously injured. The number of injuries we acquire as officials is small in comparison to the multiple broken ankles, cheekbones, and fingers that I have seen skaters rack up. So being an official is not risk free, but it is less risky than being a skater.
MD: Since refs don’t have to be at every skating practice, it seems like the time commitment might be easier, but you still have meetings and other responsibilities. How much of your week is typically spent on derby stuff?
Admiral: Personally, almost my entire week is spent doing derby stuff. I would say 6 out of 7 days on a light week. The biggest misconception I hear is that people think that if you can’t skate, go officiate. If you don’t want to skate or are working up to skating, being an NSO may be right for you. If you want to be a skating official, there is a lot of time that goes into becoming a better skater. We have to be faster than the fastest jammer, skate laps around the outside of the track, and be able to haul butt backwards when everyone changes directions. This is essential because if you aren’t in the right place to see a penalty, you can’t call it. We also spend a lot of time reviewing, discussing, and teaching the rules to ourselves and the skaters. There are 74 pages of the current rule set with several additional pieces of paperwork for officials. Did you know that each penalty has a special verbal cue by which to call it by? This time commitment is a bit more flexible though. I chose to do that many days a week, while others do not. And that’s all good, because everyone has different goals and prior commitments, and we have a bit more leniency worked into our structure.
MD: Wow, we don’t often think about how much skating skill is required for refs. That’s pretty intense. Do you guys do skating practices, or do you have to do that on your own?
Admiral: A bit of both. On Monday when we have practice, we try to use the rink with you all, but there is only so much we are able to do in that shared space. Wednesday scrimmage is both skating and practicing all that we do. Some days we will meet up and skate around the lakes in Baltimore to practice endurance. We try to fit it in there 🙂
MD: And finally, for folks who are interested in becoming officials, where do they start?
Admiral: Anyone interested in officiating in any capacity, both on and off skates, can contact us at referees@charmcityrollergirls. Go to the contact us part of the charmcityrollergirls.com website and you can find the link. Also, if you attend a game, feel free to come up to me and ask any questions in between games or at the end. I have my name stamped across my back and wear a funny hat when I’m out of stripes. Go team Zebras and Flamingos!
With your newfound knowledge of who makes derby amazing, come out to see the refs and skaters in action! Our next bout is on July 12 at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel. Doors open at 5:30 and the first whistle is at 6:30. Bonus: You can help make derby great by getting involved! We are always looking for officials, especially NSOs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
For the first time the Charm City Roller Girls sold out Du Burns Arena for the second bout of the 2010 home season. Over 1800 people crowded in to watch our home teams battle it out, and we’re thrilled to see these record breaking crowds!
These sellout crowds mean longer lines for tickets at the door, and we want to remind our fans that we have plenty of pre-sale outlets around Baltimore! In coming weeks we’ll spotlight some of these sponsors and ticket locations, so you can get your tickets early and catch all of the derby action.
She Guevara of the Mobtown Mods and Paige Fault of the Junkyard Dolls helped a longtime ticket outlet Collectors Corner open their new location in Parkville, MD. The new location has an enormous selection of comics, manga, DVDs, role-playing books, and other collectibles.
We took a minute with the owner of Collectors Corner, Randy, to find out why Charm City Roller Girls fans should check out his new location!
So, I know you’re excited about the new space, what’s your favorite improvement or new product?
Huge new space, Art Gallery, more games, vintage back issues, bargain comics, and dvd and graphic novel RENTALS!
You’re one of our best ticket vendors, how many tickets do you usually sell for each bout? How did you become a ticket vendor?
We sold out once for an All Star Bout, but normally anywhere from 15 – 35 tickets per bout.
We asked to become one since we had so many customers that were going to the bouts, it makes sense. There is a lot of cross-over business between roller derby and comics.
Do you have a favorite roller girl? A favorite team?
I would say our store contact, Emily (She Guevara) and her team, the Mobtown Mods.
Is there a book you’d recommend to derby girls? How about our fans?
There are a ton of great comic books out right now, a couple of favorites like Chew about a cop that get a psychic imprint from anything he tastes, The Boys – Hardcore superhero satire, character study and darkly humorous riff on comic book lore. Turf, Walking Dead, Irredeemable, and plenty more. As far as collected editions there are classics like Sandman, Preacher, Watchmen, Fables, Love and Rockets, Batman, and many more.
What else should our fans know about you and Collectors Corner?
That Collectors Corner is the comic shop other stores wish they could be, we have the coolest customers, and the most fun! We don’t promote an inclusive vibe here, the store is inviting to everyone. We stock more comics, games, graphic novels and collectibles than anyone in Baltimore, and know more about our products than anyone around.
If you’re a new or casual reader or gamer or hardcore fanboy or fangirl we treat everyone equally and try to show everyone that walks in just how awesome comic books and games can be as entertainment! We have many items other stores don’t and also have events every week, like FREE Movie Nights, Board Game Night, Accoustic Open Mic Night, and Comic Book Club meetings and sales at least once per month. Come on out and check out The Coolest store in Baltimore! Ask for your FREE membership card.
We had a great time meeting our fans – old and new! – and hope to see some of our new friends at the Championship Bout, May 22nd!
If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, be sure to check out Free Comic Book Day at Collectors Corner!
May 1st 2010, FREE PIZZA, FREE COMICS, 20+ ARTISTS including JO CHEN – Cover Artist for Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Dark Horse Comics and many local professionals!
Photo Credit: Down’n’Out Photography
As the home team season begins, fans will see some new faces on the track, including athletic trainer River Strong. River skates with the Trouble Makers and is one of the newest recruits to Speed Regime. The Regime will face off against the Mobtown Mods this Saturday in Charm’s home season opener.(tickets here!) Get to know more about this Charmer and come see her play this weekend!
1. What’s your job title?
I am a Certified Athletic Trainer, licensed through the state of Maryland. I currently work as the Assistant Athletic Trainer at a private girls school in Baltimore where I work with their middle school and high school athletes.
2. What are your job duties?
My responsibilities include first response and emergency care, as well as the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions of my student athletes.
3. Why did you decide to pursue this job? What/Who inspired you?
I first became interested in athletic training after I spent my senior season of high school softball in our school’s athletic training room thanks to a stress fracture in my leg and a broken bone in my hand two weeks after returning from the stress fracture. When I went to college, I took a few prerequisite courses in first aid, athletic injury care, and anatomy and physiology which only secured my interest in the field. There was an intense clinical component outside of classes where we were working with professional athletic trainers in area secondary schools and colleges. I was inspired by being able to observe those athletic trainers that I worked with and by seeing the impact they made on their student-athletes. I also found the subject matter fascinating and loved being able to apply something we were learning about in class to see real world application and results.
4. What (if any) challenges do you deal with? How do you deal with them?
This is a fast-paced, unpredictable, continually-changing job. Athletic trainers are expected to maintain all aspects of the safety of our athletes and as such are concerned with everything from the environment and weather conditions at practice to emotional and mental wellness and the physical health of the athletes we care for. Every day I must be prepared for the (hoped against) risk of a catastrophic injury, the daily grind of taping ankles and padding blisters, and everything in between. Preparation is key. Ideally, a lot of my job would simply be standing on the sideline, watching a sports team play but you always need to be ready if there is an injury. There’s a lot of training, certifications, and education that we must keep up to date with, in the hope of being as prepared as possible.
5. Why did you decide to start playing derby?
I decided to start playing derby after I had been volunteering for two years. I originally got involved with derby because my girlfriend was a skater (-turned-official). I’d always played sports and derby looked like it was loads of fun (spoiler: it is). I started helping her at bouts and watching a lot of derby but we were still students at the time and I saw how difficult it was to manage school and derby. I knew that with my studies, I would need to wait until after I graduated to start skating. CCRG began its boot camp and fresh meat try out during my last semester of school so I had to wait until the next spring before I tried out and joined the league.
6. What’s your derby history?
I started skating with the C travel team, the Trouble Makers, this past summer and was just drafted on to the Speed Regime for home team season! I mainly play blocker, though I’m working to improve my jamming skills. My derby name is River Strong, in reference to the Doctor Who character River Song, because she is a bad-ass and we both have crazy hair. There’s also a subtle reminder to myself that perseverance is key and I am stronger than I am inclined to think sometimes. My number is 11, which actually came before the name simply because I have always worn that number and I already had shirts with it on the back. Plus it works with the Whovian reference 🙂
7. What words of encouragement would you impart upon a female considering your career?
Never stop learning. If you aren’t a fan, this is not the job for you. You will be challenged and pushed at times, but it will be worth it to see the effect you have on your student-athletes. Always strive to maintain a good work-life balance.
8. Anything else you want to share?
I’m hoping to head to graduate school for my master’s in athletic administration next fall. I hope to attain a graduate assistant athletic trainer position in the athletic training room of my school while I’m studying.
River and her team will be in action on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 in our home team season opener at Du Burns Arena. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the first game starts at 6:30. All ages are welcome!
Derby girls don’t do “typical.” Members of the Charm City Roller Girls come from every walk of life, work in all types of professions, and take on all kinds of challenges. Our skaters are trail blazers, and over the coming months our blog will feature our skaters that work in positions in science, math, engineering, technology, finance, construction, medicine and other fields that are traditionally male-dominated.
First up, Jackye Peretz, a postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She’s #289 Punchwrap Supreme, blocker for the Charm City Roller Girls All-Stars and hometown champions the Mobtown Mods.
Wanting to be part of the solution to worldwide public health emergencies depicted in movies like Outbreakand books like The Hot Zone was what pushed her into science initially. In her current position, she’s researching how exposure to chemicals or compounds can alter hormones in the human body. These are important for maintaining overall health and are even more important when fighting off diseases such an influenza, which affects the global population every year. Further, men and women can have different responses to influenza, which may be mediated, at least in part, by hormones. We know that these endocrine disrupting chemicals can alter hormone levels in men and women but little to no research has investigated how these endocrine disrupting chemicals can affect our immune response to influenza. Punchy’s graduate work was in reproductive toxicology so learning immunology on the fly has been a challenge.
“I deal with the challenges by playing roller derby and getting my frustrations out in a physical way so I can clear my head,” she says. “Derby also constantly forces a person to interact with many different personalities so that has helped with my interpersonal skills at work.”
“I love a good contact sport,” Punchy says. She started playing roller derby in 2010 because she was bored. She played rugby in college and there wasn’t a women’s team back home in Champaign, IL, so she tried derby. Her first league was the Twin City Derby Girls . She transferred to the Charm City Roller Girls in January 2014. Her name and number are an homage to the Crunchwrap Supreme which sells for $2.89 in her hometown.
Punchy offers this advice to young women pursuing a career in science and public health:
“Have confidence in yourself and never let someone undermine your self-esteem or intellect. Science can be a difficult field for women depending on the field of study, but as Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.’”
Punchy is a great example of what the Charm City Roller Girls and WFTDA are all about: Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary. To see more of these strong women playing hard and meet the skaters, join us this Saturday, Oct. 18, at Du Burns arena in Canton.
To learn more about Charm City skaters and other women doing amazing things, like us on Facebook!
We all know the Charm City Roller Girls roller derby league is made up of dedicated athletes, but what you don’t see on the track is how intelligent, talented and accomplished our skaters are outside their favorite sport. Get to know this league and you’ll quickly see there’s no such thing as a “typical derby girl.” For example, Allie B. Back, co-captain of Speed Regime, is a leader not only on the track but also in medical research. Here, Allie tells us all about her love of science, her career in research, and how she found her way to roller derby.
What’s your job title?
Research Program Manager at Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of Infection Control
Tell us about what you do.
I setup and manage multiple research studies for our group, including a multi-center study on influenza with sites across the US, a Phase III investigational drug clinical trial, a multi-center chart review study on c. difficile, etc. I am responsible for submitting relevant grant applications, Institutional Review Board applications and renewals, and budgeting for both the research studies and my Principal Investigator’s accounts. I train and directly supervise three full-time Research Assistants and at least two part-time student Research Assistants.
Why did you decide to pursue this job? Who or what inspired you?
I have always loved science and did my undergraduate studies in Theoretical Physics. Unfortunately, when I graduated there were no open positions for a lab tech in Physics (it appears to be a tough field to get into right out of college) so I began applying for anything science-related that was relatively close to me. I was living in Delaware and working in PA at the time. I lucked into a position at Hopkins fairly quickly and, in the process, discovered that I had a knack and interest in not just performing lab duties but actually managing grant applications, journal articles, and the research activities. I moved around to different departments, realizing that research management is always the same even if the research subject changes. This is great because I can stay at Hopkins and never get bored! I have worked in otolaryngology, neurology, OB/GYN, and now in infection control. My favorites have probably been neurology and my current position because I can see how universally important and immediately relevant the research is in these two fields in particular.
What challenges do you face in your work life, and how do you deal with them?
One of the biggest challenges in research, especially research that spans multiple sites/locations is communication. You need to communicate early, often, and repeatedly for things to get done. It can be frustrating to coordinate everyone’s schedules for a call, but the payoff is great when you can make decisions in that 1 hour on the phone with the whole team that could take months of back-and-forth via email otherwise. side from that, research always faces challenges in recruitment of participants and maintaining funding. Hopkins (as I imagine most university research institutions) offer a number of courses to help train you in various ways to overcome these challenges and I highly recommend taking them whenever you have the opportunity.
Why did you decide to start playing roller derby?
I found out about roller derby through a friend that had watched a Gotham (NYC) bout and thought I would be interested. At the time, I was recovering from a difficult breakup and didn’t know anyone in Baltimore, so I was definitely looking for an outlet and way to make new friends. As I watched my 1st CCRG bout, I found myself twitching in my seat, wanting to be out there on the track with those girls. I immediately signed up for the Skater Tot group (women interested in trying out). However, I am very shy and I sat for 20 minutes in my car during the 1st “meet up” of Tots at a local Skateland; I couldn’t believe I was scared to walk into a roller rink! I am so extremely glad that I forced myself to do it though because I could never have imagined how great an impact this journey would have on my life. These skaters are my family and have helped me through both tough and amazingly great times. Plus this whole roller derby thing is freaking awesome fun!
Tell us about your derby career so far.
I joined CCRG in 2008 and got seriously injured (requiring surgery) in my first scrimmage in 2009. But I came back with a vengeance and even made it on the All-Stars my first tryout. I have played off-and-on (due to additional injuries) since then. I was drafted by Speed Regime who had given me a place while recouping from my first injury (by helping bench manage) and will always have a stronghold on my heart. TerrorIzHer and I have been the Captains of Regime since 2010. This year, I decided to step down from the All-Stars to focus on my education (finished an MLA), career, and home-life (bought a house). I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with CCRG’s B-team, Female Trouble, this year.
What words of encouragement would you give to a female considering your career?
There is a trade-off in university-associated medical research, which tends to be salary. You will never make a ton of money at this unless you go into private for-profit sectors of research (think pharmaceutical companies). That said, you will be on the cutting edge of research that makes a difference in people’s lives and that can be more rewarding than any paycheck (as long as you make enough to pay the bills, which I do). Management skills of all types are critical: time management, project management, people management. You can do a crash course in any topic to learn enough of the science to do your job, but you have to have that innate knack for organization to do well. As a woman in the medical field, I do occasionally experience a bias towards males but I have been lucky to be mentored by some strong female bosses. Find a female mentor as soon as possible to help you navigate and teach you the ropes, and you’ll get far.