Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fifi Nomenon Interview

by: Daniel McCashin
1) How long have you been playing Roller Derby?

I started skating two and a half years ago in March of 2010. But that wasn't any kind of formal thing. LADD has these 8-week class sessions called Derby por Vida. I didn't make their Fresh Meat until six months later or about two years ago. So my official start date is debatable. But I go with the higher number cuz it sounds more respectable.

2) Did you play any sports before Derby?

I played a bunch of solo-type sports. I have downhill skied most of my life. My dad was really into tennis when I was growing up so that was something we did together. And all through middle and high school I ran cross country and track and field. So, you know, nothing that even slightly resembles a team or contact sport. I will say, though, that I see little bits and pieces of those previous sports coming in handy on occasion. Some blockers are like trees you have to avoid and a full two minute jam isn't unlike a 10k race, except for the scary girls trying to break you.

3) What is your outside derby profession?

I believe the catch-all term is Digital Artist. Seems easier than saying a freelance senior motion graphics animator / digital effects artist and more glamorous than saying I stare at a computer screen 10 hours a day. So basically I animate graphics for commercials, movies and stuff like that.

4) I know you used to play for the LA Derby Dolls.  Was that your first team?

I did! I was a Varsity Brawler for one season. Best home team on the bank track.

5) Having the unique experience of playing both Bank and Flat Track can you explain the differences between the two and what you like specifically about each medium?

 I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Especially when I was trying to decide if I should switch to flat track last year. I feel that both are definitely roller derby. Neither is one is the lesser. Banked track is very fast. It takes some serious balance and very fast reaction times. When a jammer is coming up you can't really blink. From a purely athletic standpoint I really enjoy banked track. It also has the capacity to be much more brutal than flat. I've knocked two girls clear out of the track before. And between being slammed and scraped along the outside railing to plummeting several feet to concrete/to your doom, there's no shortage of ways to accumulate war wounds to show the grand kids. Flat track, however, feels like chess to banks checkers. Because of the ability to stop, reverse, be sent off mid jam, the dimensions of the track, etc., the possible stratagems seem endless in flat. I also enjoy how different types of skaters flourish in flat track, from the acrobatic figure skaters to the speed skater tanks and everything in between. I love going back to the bank on occasion to fulfill my need for speed, but I think I've found my home in flat track. But honestly, I just love roller derby, regardless of the angle of the track.

6) Tell me about your first experience participating in a WFTDA regional Tournament this year at Westerns.

Well, seeing as this is really only my second season on any kind of team, and my first season on a travel team, I think it's safe to say that if I wasn't so enthralled with the whole experience I might have been overwhelmed. My team, the Hollywood Scarlets, came committed and ready to compete at as high a level as we were able. We have been prepping for these games for months. We did our homework on the teams we were likely to play and worked very hard to be ready for whatever was thrown at us. And that didn't stop when we arrived. All the way up until the end of our last game we lived a very regimented schedule. I suppose all of that is part of what kept it all in perspective. We were there to play as a team and, fates be willing, to win as a team. I think it was the most focused and the most united I've ever seen us before. Suffice it to say, win or lose, this was an incredible experience.

7) You played very well during the tournament and almost willed the Scarlets to a win over Sacred City in the final jam that would have given the Scarlets 7th place over all.  Can you run me through that last jam and what was going through your head?

Oh dear. That last jam. Well, to back up a hair, I have to probably address what a big deal this game was to my team, my league and to me personally. For my league and my team, this is a long-standing rivalry with Sacred. We played them earlier in the year and won for the first time in five years, I believe. I think that was an important high water mark for us. ACDG has so much heart and drive, and so does Sacred. These games have been epic and this one felt no different. And for me personally, I had sat out the last 15 minutes of the Rose game on Friday and all of the game against Rocky on Saturday due to a shoulder injury. I very much felt like I was letting down my team and the league who had sent me there. Playing Sunday was extremely important to me. And this being the last game I would be playing as a Hollywood Scarlet, I felt I had to put everything I had into it. Leading up to that last jam I had gotten a major penalty that cost us our lead. When Go Go trusted me to wear the jammer panty for that last jam I knew that I couldn't leave that track with an ounce of left over energy. I have to say, I've watched that last jam a few times now since I've been home and I am soooo proud of our blockers. Duchess and Shiv just killed it for the minute they were alone and when Micki and Scait joined in we really all thought we could do it. There was a miscalculation of how many points the other jammer got, I was being frantically motioned to call it, I called it, and that was all my legs had left. I don't think I've ever experienced two minutes that felt like eternity and not enough time all at once.

8) Being ranked 8 in the West which is the toughest conference is no joke and a great honor. Were you satisfied with the Scarlets performance at Westerns or do you think you could have placed higher?

It's so easy to play the game of what might have been. What if this or what if that. But that's all part of the game. We play to the best of our ability, we make mistakes, and maybe we pull off the occasional miracle. But all those things happen for all teams so it sort of evens out. We came into this season ranked 9th and left 8th. I couldn't be more proud of my team. Throughout the season we worked so hard. At least seven of us were new transfers. Several of us just worked our way up. In many ways we were a completely brand new team, still learning how to fit together. We held our own against some of the most incredible teams out there. If we look at this weekend as anything but an accomplishment then we are doing ourselves an injustice. There are always things that we can take away from experiences like this and work on moving forward, but I look back and see a team that I feel proud to be a part of.

9) You seemed blown away in your award speech that you were voted MVP Jammer of the tournament and notably beating our some of the best Jammers in the world for the award.  Now that you've had a few days to digest all of that what are you feelings about receiving that honor?

Well, I'll have to take your word for how I seemed because I really don't remember anything I said. But that feeling of being blown away is dead on and I stand by it. I was completely unprepared. All of a sudden everyone was trying to tell me they were calling my name and all I could think was "why?" As a funny note, my girlfriend, the psychic, texted me after the Sacred game and told me I jammed well and that I'd get MVP but I definitely didn't believe it. For real, the level of play I watched this weekend, I certainly wouldn't have voted for me. I can think of a dozen jammers I felt deserved it far more. That being said, I am completely honored. The way I look at it is that it's not an award of past accomplishment, but something I am inspired to earn still.

10) I know that you are moving to Texas soon and leaving ACDG.  Why are you moving and what your plans for derby?

It's true. On October 6th I'll be pulling into Austin in my U-Haul and setting up a new life for myself. It's hard to pin down exactly why I'm moving. I'd have to say a general need for change? I just hit my ten year anniversary of living in Los Angeles and it feels like I haven't really accomplished anything. I started out a decade ago as a freelancer living in a meh apartment. I am currently a freelancer living in a meh apartment. I feel a very strong desire to try something new and to find a home and work that fulfill me. I had some basic criteria: It has to rain more than LA, I have to be able to work there, it has to be liberal enough to deal with me, and I could continue to play high-level derby. Austin seemed to fit that mold pretty nicely. So I am registered for TXRG league tryouts on October 10th and I'm terribly excited about it. Some of my favorite players skate for Texas and I just know there's so much I'll have to learn from that league if they'll have me. My only regret is the wonderful base of friends I will be leaving here. I know I will miss them all terribly.

11) Any thank you's or shout outs?

Absolutely! Are you ready? I have so many and I am terribly sappy. First of all to my beloved teammates and coaches of the Hollywood Scarlets and the entire league of ACDG. I have grown so much as a skater with them. They are my sisters and my friends and that will never change. This last weekend will be a time in my life that I will forever cherish. A shout out is due to my first league of LADD and all the trainers, teammates and fellow skaters that taught and inspired me. Also to the teams we played this weekend. Wasatch, Rose, Rocky, and Sacred, you all played amazing games and it was an honor to share the track with you. A huge thanks to the refs, NSOs and all the people that make derby possible. We're all in this together, right?

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I know I'll miss you a ton, Fifi, and so will the Drive-By City Rollers. The one practice you ran with us is still the most discussed practice within the team, and I'm sad knowing I won't have any more opportunity to invite you out :(

    With that said, enjoy Texas!