I Am a Roller Derby Girl in Honolulu
Injuries, drama, dedication, victory—associate editor Tiffany Hill laced up her skates to rumble in Honolulu’s fastest-growing sport.
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We’d skate in a pack, in pace lines, on one foot, between cones. We did crunches until we couldn’t move. We learned how to stop—standing up—“Feet wide, knees in,” Handsome would yell, as we’d try to plow stop. He’d make us repeat our Mohawk stop (a 180-degree stop using your toe stops) over and over. During boot camp I learned the rules of roller derby, how to hit, do crossovers and why it’s important to air out your gear, not that it won’t smell anyway.
Like learning anything new, roller derby elicits a love/hate relationship. Like the first time I jumped over a water bottle and landed it. Or when I made it through the pack in the jammer-has-no-friends drill. I love this sport! But then there were drills, and still are, during which I want to stop in frustration. When I weakly hip-check a teammate, or miss altogether, or when I’m the only one on the ground. I suck, what am I doing here?! Tears have been shed.
I don’t know if I’m ready, I thought. What if I fail? What if I’m the only one? My stomach had been in knots all day. It was finally here: the end of boot camp, our test day. I had to pass a 45-question, multiple-choice test on the rules of the game and perform a minimum skills test, demonstrating I knew how to fall, stop, hit and block. I also had to skate 25 laps in less than five minutes. The written test would be no problem; I was more worried about the whole show-us-you-can-skate-now skills I’d have to perform for the testers. I had come a long way from my baby deer days, but I was no Suzy Hotrod. (Google her, you’ll see what I mean.) But I couldn’t become a WFTDA skater, or compete, unless I did. I wiped the nervous sweat off my brow and geared up. The written test? Passed. Mohawk stops? I didn’t fall! Laps? After a false start for accidently cutting the track, I skated them in 4.35. It was official, I was bonafide, derby girl!
Derby often breaks you down before lifting you back up. It is now a part of who I am. Derby is where I became Scornful Redenblocker. I racked my brain trying to come up with that name. Your name is your alter ego. We are Calamity, Tadbit, Collide, Axle. Skaters often don’t know each other’s real names, and it’s OK. Skaters have to submit their alter egos for approval on a national registry. It was a long process for me. I originally wanted to do a spin on a journalist. Barbara Brawlters? Taken. Then I tried literary characters. I racked my brain trying to create a witty name and bugged my boyfriend about it constantly, to his annoyance.
“It was challenging for me,” says Collide. “It took four months.” She, too, had scoured the online registry. Then she thought of the kaleidoscope. “I wanted something multifaceted, always changing.” And she loved to hit, hence, Collide.
Lisa Hogue, who has been skating since 2009, chose the name Miso Rowdy—Miso for short. Her first choices were also already registered. “So, I decided that I wanted to have something with an Asian flair. I picked Miso Rowdy because it is Asian-themed and tough sounding without sounding violent or offensive. I wanted something my daughter could wear on a T-shirt or that my son could hold on a sign.”