Last week, after I wrote a post that referred to my own elbow-throwing, competitive propensities, a woman who skates by the name of Molotov approached me on my Facebook Page, Running from Hell with El, to see if I was interested in sponsoring a growing derby league, Portland Renegade Roller Derby. We started talking, and this Q&A is what resulted. Oh, and my answer is yes, hell yes I want to help support this league of hardy souls!
El: I just think roller derby is the coolest, most fascinating thing!
Molotov: It is pretty great. And seeing how it can bring a community of women together is kinda amazing too. My league is a renegade league, which means we broke off from a bigger league here in our town.
El: Ahhh–I was wondering what the renegade meant. I mean, I see renegade and I automatically smile!
Molotov: It was too big and micro managed and became for profit and lost a lot of its community feel. What they are doing is great for a lot of people, but we just wanted something different. So it thus has became a lot of hard work starting a league and team from the ground up!
El: Grinning. How long have you been playing roller derby (is “playing” the right word?)?
Molotov: I’ve been skating most of my life, but only have been skating derby since November.
El: So it’s called “skating” derby?
Molotov: Most of our coaches and base teammates have been playing for four to six years. It’s called “bouting.” Once I made the mistake of calling it a “game” the first time I went to a bout. And I was very embarrassed.
El: LOL–I can imagine.
Molotov: But we say skate usually.
Molotov: Just roller skating and blading.
El: This is fascinating! And you were a runner before?
Molotov: Yes, since I was 18. I still want to run again. I haven’t really since last June.
El: I don’t think we ever lose that desire. Did you suffer an injury?
Molotov: I have anemia and it was too much. I was getting out of breath and really sick. My 7 year old beat me in the last 5k we did together.
El: Shaking head–that’s rough.
Molotov: So I knew something must be wrong then.
El: Yes for sure. How did you find derby?
Molotov: I wanted to play derby for a long time. My kids and I watched Whip It back when it came out.
El: That was awesome!
Molotov: My best friend is involved in another derby group in our town.
El: That’s the main league right?
Molotov: she has been skating with them for years and still not on a team. I went with her to a bout a couple of years ago and met the person who is now the ringleader of our group.
El: The ringleader–is that the league commissioner of the renegade league?
Molotov: Yes, our president. I just call her ringleader to be silly.
El: LOL! What does roller derby do for you?
Molotov: I always wanted to do derby, but always thought it was too expensive, too much time, I didn’t deserve to spend then time on myself, etc etc. I was in a very unpleasant marriage up until just a few years ago and never would have been doing this if I was still married.
El: I’m so glad you’re out of that marriage hun! I was talking about derby tonight with my husband, and he grinned at me.
“You know Cutie, if you were younger . . .”
” . . . Yep. I’d do it for sure! Nothing more fun than throwing elbows and hitting people, lol.” I replied.
does that sound familiar?
Molotov: Lol! Totally.
El: Grinning. I thought so!
Molotov: We have people of all ages.
El: What’s the range?
Molotov: 23-43, currently.
El: How old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?
Molotov: I’m 32.
El: Oh you’re just a kid!
Molotov: Ugh–wish I felt like just a kid.
El: Are you kidding me? 32?! You’re in your athletic prime!
Molotov: So I met this crazy, fun, positive, happy gal at a bout. Her name is Julie Locktress and a year later (last November) she invited me to be part of what we are calling the Renegade movement. At first I thought I was too weak and tired to even skate because of my anemia. I hadn’t ran since June or May. I hadn’t been on skates in two years, since I had taken a fall and hurt my tailbone. But I was depressed and anxious and needed a cause for myself other then just raising my kids and carting them around to their sporting events and working 50 hours a week to keep a roof over their heads I don’t get any child support from their father and am basically on my own.
El: Oh man–50 hours a week and no child support? And hun, we all need something greater than ourselves, you know?
Molotov: Yes, exactly. So I figured at least I could help with the admin part of it.
Molotov: But then I started taking derby classes and I went broke and ate Top rRmen and oatmeal packets for lunch to buy skates and gear
El: that is *awesome* good on you!
Molotov: And I’ve been working ferociously to get better and stronger and raise awareness and get sponsors and skaters. I got in touch with a friend I had not seen for 10 years and now she is going to skate with us. And she brought another girl, who also brought a friend and so on and so on.
Molotov: So we have a mix of new skaters and older experienced skaters. we are from all walks of life
El: Like what careers?
Molotov: One is a Native American and she is a licensed Drug and alcohol counselor.
Locktress is a hairdresser.
Molotov: We have a waitress/model, a graduate student, a nurse, a logistics worker/liberal arts major.
El: A nurse!? LOL!
El: And what’s your 50-hour week job?
Molotov: I work in shipping/receiving/inventory control for a laser test equipment company. I was a full time student too up until a couple of years ago . . . I’m hoping to get back to school one day.
El: (nodding) I hear ya.
Molotov: Yes . . . no time to be sad or feel sorry for myself. When I am not busy that is when I start to fade. So I work hard, love hard, play hard.
El: Seriously I get that. And don’t think too hard or too much (that’s my problem lol).
Molotov: Mine too.
Molotov: I wanted to be a philosophy major.
El: And that’s where sports and competition help me. Who is your favorite philosopher?
El: Loved War and Peace. Why Tolstoy?
Molotov: His writings on women and love really speak to me for some reason. I like a lot of the less known ones too… like Karl Marx. Economics and philosophy are very closely related.
El: So as a philosopher, what does derby signify to you?
Molotov: Oh wow . . . that is very deep . . .
El: that’s where I abide lol!
Molotov: I suppose it lies in the theory that we must make today count . . . and each moment . . . and I want to inspire and help others the way that I have been inspired and helped by so many. If I had know that my life could be as good as it is now, I would have chosen a different path very long ago. But it matters not now, because here I am and I am what I do with it. I got a tattoo on my back a year ago that reads ” take the pieces and build them up to the sky” its a line from my favorite song and summarizes the journey of my life.
Molotov: It’s a most beautiful song . . .
El: Biffy Clyro?
Molotov: YES. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0q2iXlsKNA
El: Listening now. OMG if I were building a soundtrack for Ripple this would be in it. It’s profoundly moving to me, in ways I can hardly explain. There’s a scene in Ripple when Phoebe, the rape victim, is falling apart, but her friend talks to her, helps hold her together, and this song, it could be playing.
Molotov: I’ve had a lot of people who have helped hold me together . . . so yes.
El: Same here. This song, the one tattooed on your back–is this what derby kind of means to you?
Molotov: I think what derby means to me . . . is a dream that I had given up on coming true. And an exciting journey just beginning. One I am so honored and proud to be a part of.
El: That makes me so happy to hear, almost happy tears, you know? Because we should all find those dreams and take part in those journeys.
Molotov: It’s easy to find excuses not to follow our dreams. The hard part is doing what we really want.
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