Strawberry Jam has been a fixture here at Roller Derby Inside Track as part of our panel of weekly game analysts, and we are pleased to present her first feature article, an interview with her leaguemate Noxious Donna. We hope this is the first of many such contributions from her. Be sure to leave a comment if you’d like to read more from her, and suggest future interviews or article ideas as well.- RDIT editorial staff.
Noxious Donna began her love affair with derby as one of those “reporters who wants to skate with your league so she can put a story together”. Instead of falling on her butt and skating off in to oblivion, she emailed me repeatedly in regards to tryouts and what it would take to be a Naptown Roller Girl. She is now coming to the end of her third season and is more committed than ever to the sport. She’s embraced the roller derby community locally and is now reaching out to a global audience with her “funny because it’s true” take on roller girl problems via twitter. Pick your poison and get to know Noxious Donna a little bit better.
What was your background with sports prior to Roller Derby?
Well, none really. When I was little, I was a tomboy, but I was never athletic. I’d try a sport out for a little bit, get bored with it, cry until my parents let me quit and then try another one. Then I discovered theater and choir and that was it for sports.
Most leagues have had a reporter do the “put on skates and interview rollergirls” bit, but when you did it as a reporter for NUVO, it made you tryout. What was it about that day that made you want to be part of Naptown Roller Girls?
Before I ever came to a practice, I went back and forth between “I could do that” and “Holy shit, those girls are tough. No way.” So when I did lace up my skates for the first time and I didn’t totally break myself, I thought “OK, let’s see where this goes.” (Please note that there was no scrimmaging or hitting of any kind in this practice. Yeah, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.)
You are considered a “bubble skater” with Naptown- you are on the “A team” charter but spend most of your time playing with the “B team”. What’s it feel like to be right on the verge?
Being in ‘the bubble’ means sometimes you feel left out. You’re just good enough. Yes, you may be chosen as an alt or roster for the A-Team (a great honor) but you get very little or no play time. And sometimes you just wanna SKATE and there’s part of you that would rather be kicking serious ass with your B-Team (or “A minus team” as we like to call our Warning Belles) than benching it on the A-Team. There’s a bright side to both, you just have to make sure you look for the bright side, and not the dark side.
…there’s part of you that would rather be kicking serious ass with your B-Team than benching it on the A-Team.
Because we are in the same league, I’ve seen you morph so much over the past 3 years. How do you feel roller derby has changed your life for the better?
Oh yes. I remember that very first day, I followed you around like a puppy. It sounds cliche, but I’m more confident and more inclined to try new things. Every scrimmage, every bout, every practice is a test. If you pass it and say ‘eh, that wasn’t so bad’ then you start to think of all the other things you only thought you were too scared to do.
How often do you get to watch roller derby? What do you watch for and how do you apply what you learn to how you play?
Because I mostly pivot, I’m always ‘talking out’ the scenarios I see when other teams play. “Run, run, run… now stop! Hit her!” It helps me clearly see situations unfold and then calmly determine how I’d react if I were on the track as pivot.
Your current job is with a PR firm in Indianapolis. How do you apply what you do at work with your roll as PR committee head for Naptown? Does it get exhausting doing the same thing for your day job and derby job?
Believe it or not, derby has been a huge asset to my career. I gained a lot of experience doing PR for Naptown before I ever worked as a publicist professionally. One of my clients, who is a professional concert photographer even wants to do a photography exhibition with our league. There’s a lot of cross-over. Publicity is one of those industries that never sleeps. You’re finding connections and thinking of new stories and angles around the clock.
You recently started a very funny twitter parody “Rollergirl Problems” (@rollrgrlproblem). What gave you the idea for that and how do you keep coming up with such “funny because it’s true” type sayings?
I totally ripped off White Girl Problems (@whtgrlproblem). I love finding Twitter accounts that make me laugh, and I’m a big fan of self-deprecation. I also found Hipster Problems and a slew of others. I was reading it one day and thought, “There HAS to be a Roller Girl Problems account.” But there wasn’t. So I ran with it.
There HAS to be a Roller Girl Problems account.” But there wasn’t. So I ran with it.
How has @rollrgirlproblem been received? Do you have a lot of followers and retweets?
I began tweeting things from my personal experience or overheard from my teammates. Now girls from other leagues are giving me inspiration. The online roller derby community is so vibrant. The account is slowly gaining followers and every post has been retweeted at least once. Derby girls see it and say “Yes! Me too!” The most popular tweet so far has been “Does listening to you bitch count as committee hours?”
Do you have bigger plans for @rollrgirlproblem other than Twitter?
Do you have any thoughts or vision for what you want roller derby to be like in ten years?
I think a lot of people see derby as a trend. My hope is that it endures.
What do you think is wrong with roller derby right now?
I don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with derby. It’s always evolving and changing and that’s what’s great about this sport. Derby from the ’70s isn’t the derby we have today.
Noxious Donna and her Naptown teammates will be taking on the Cincinnati Rollergirls in a double header this Saturday, April 30, with live streaming coverage available starting at 6:30 PM Eastern.