We continue our series of Cincinnati Rollergirl interviews today with the woman who sparked my interest in the sport. For over a year I have followed her twitter account, and read her roller derby blog, which is featured on cincinnati.com. While she may be one of the smaller players on the team, her fire and spirit come alive when the whistle blows. Today, we feature Miss Print.
Thadd Scott: Tell us about your roller derby name, how did you come up with it?
Miss Print: After first coming up with a bunch of terrible names that I won’t repeat here, I decided I wanted a name that had something to do with my job as a newspaper reporter or writing. All of the Lois Lane-inspired names were taken, so I chose Miss Print after seeing an ad for a printing company on a billboard near Gary, Indiana. Fortunately, I have yet to be sued.
TS: Off of the track, what kind of work do you do? What pays the bills? Do you have any other hobbies besides rollerderby?
MP: I’m a features reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Roller derby takes up almost all of my spare time, but I also love seeing live music, going out to eat and generally exploring Cincinnati, since I’m not a native.
TS:What is your position, and tell us what responsibilities go along with that.
MP: I’m primarily a jammer, although I’d like to work on blocking more to become a more versatile player. We have lots of talented jammers now, which is great, but you won’t get as much playing time if you only jam. Jammers need to be quick on their feet, both literally and figuratively. They have to not only be physically fast, but also able to make split-second decisions to dart through the smallest holes in the pack and dodge the biggest hits. Jammers also need lots of endurance, agility, aggressiveness and tenacity. Those things don’t always come naturally to me, but I love pushing myself to bring them out. And I don’t give up easily.
TS: When is the first time you remember seeing roller derby? Was it televisoin?
MP: I’m sure roller derby was on TV when I was a kid, but I don’t ever remember watching it. My first exposure to the sport was an article in Bust (a feminist magazine) in maybe 2005. I first saw it in action on the 2006 A&E series “Rollergirls.”
TS: What made you decide that this was something that you wanted to do?
MP: There were a lot of things I loved about modern-day roller derby: That it was open to basically anyone, regardless of size, shape or athletic ability; that it was developed and played by women and not an offshoot of a men’s sport; that it looked completely different from other sports, which had never interested me; and that it had this whole punk rock attitude. Coming from a pretty middle-class, conservative background, I’ve always been fascinated by subcultures, and I decided that I didn’t just want to read or write about this one—I wanted to be a part of it. I blogged about “Rollergirls” when it was on TV, wondering why there wasn’t a team in Cincinnati, and someone from the Ohio Roller Girls in Columbus left a comment offering to put me in touch with the two women who were starting up the Cincinnati Rollergirls. It was exciting to get involved with the team at the very beginning. None of us knew what we were doing, but we figured it out.
TS: What type of athletic background did you have before rollerderby?
MP: I skated off and on when I was a kid and I took ballet lessons from when I was 4 until I was 14, but that’s about it. When I hit my teens, most of the other girls in my ballet classes were taking lessons multiple times a week and planning to dance professionally, and that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. Ironically, I also didn’t want to deform my feet with pointe shoes, but now I’m happily tearing them apart by skating three to four days a week.
TS: Thinking back to your first bout in front of fans, what was that feeling like?
MP: I felt much the way I do now: Nervous, excited and amazed that people actually showed up. We had no idea how many fans would show up, but we ended up with a standing room-only crowd of 700-plus at Castle Skateland in Loveland on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006. I’ll always remember that date because I found out later that the first Transcontinental Roller Derby took place on Aug. 13, 1935 in Chicago. We were overwhelmed by the turnout, especially considering how painfully green we all were. But most of the night is a blur at this point. I do remember my team losing, though, which we would do many times that season.
TS: I know that the team practices a lot, about 3 days a week. Tell me about the challenge of juggling rollerderby and “home” responsibilities.
MP: I’m not married and I don’t have any kids or pets, so my home responsibilities are minimal compared to many of my teammates. And my boyfriend is one of our announcers, so he totally understands what a big commitment derby is. I honestly don’t know how people juggle jobs, family and derby, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who do.
TS: Have you been able to apply anything that you have learned in Derby to “off the track” life?
MP: Derby has made me much braver. I wasn’t really a fearful person before, but I would definitely get nervous, say, walking to my car alone at night. Now I feel like I have it in me to fight back if someone ever tried to pull something. And if that doesn’t work out, I know there’d soon be 50 other rollergirls out for revenge.
TS: What has been the toughest competition you have faced this year?
MP: Honestly, the toughest competition has been from my own teammates. For the first time, we have many more skaters than we do roster spots, and we’re all fighting for them. But I think that’s a good thing. It pushes us all to work harder and to take nothing for granted.
TS: What are some goals that you have set for yourself in derby?
MP: I’ve had lots of large and small goals for myself and for the team over the years. At the beginning of this year, I blogged that my overall goal for the season was to become a better skater than I was at the time, and that I specifically wanted to work on becoming a more decisive jammer. I’m still working on that. Now, I’d add to that becoming a better blocker and a stronger skater in general.
More than anything, though, I want the Cincinnati Rollergirls to continue to be a successful organization and to continue on, long after all of us who are involved with it now are gone. I also hope we can start a junior team someday soon. When little girls come up to us starry-eyed after our games and ask us to sign their programs or T-shirts, I want nothing more than for them to be able to have the same incredible experience that I’ve had, and the sooner, the better.
TS: What type of injuries, if any have you had?
MP: I’ve been extremely fortunate that I’ve never had any serious injuries, even though I’m small and I get knocked around a lot. I broke my left pinky finger after falling on it during a practice in our first season, but that’s it. I’ve had plenty of bumps, bruises and blisters along the way, but I’ve never had to sit out of a game because of an injury.
TS: I came across a video you did for ESPN on the birth of modern roller derby, how did that come about?
MP: The ESPN piece aired on SportsCenter in May 2008. The producer found my blog when he was doing research for the piece and contacted me with some general questions about roller derby. He ended up deciding that he wanted to use me to narrate the story as a newspaper reporter, with the big reveal at the end being that I play roller derby, too. They interviewed me at the Enquirer and at the Cincinnati Gardens before our April 2008 season opener and shot much of that game. I certainly would have preferred that they didn’t include the footage of me getting knocked into the trackside seats, but I’m not complaining too much–I still get to tell the grandkids that I was on ESPN.
TS: Last question. How long do you see yourself skating?
MP: I’ve thought about retiring at a couple of different points during my derby career, but I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to quit until my body or my schedule simply won’t allow me to do it anymore. Derby has become a huge part of my life and I’d miss it way too much. It’s a hard habit to break.
Thank you to Miss Print for talking with us, and sharing some insight. You can read her blog at cincinnati.com/blogs/derby. Also, the aforementioned ESPN piece you can see here
Thadd Scott – twitter.com/thethadd