November - Tuffy the Vampire Skater
Derby Name: Tuffy the Vampire Skater
Derby Number: 609
When did you start skating: 5/3/2022
Favorite Skate Brand: Riedell for the boots, 187 Killer Pads for the protective gear
An Interview with…Tuffy the Vampire Skater
What about derby caught your attention? When did you first start playing?
The first things that caught my attention were the names and personas people chose for the track. The skating part came later! My first night on skates was my first night at VCDD Fresh Meat, well and truly. I was so curious to see if I could do it and earn a cool derby name.
What was that “one moment” when you knew playing derby was the right thing for you?
I don't know if there was exactly one moment, but it came together in a series of moments. It's the moments where my teammates call me Tuffy and shout works of encouragement in drills. It's the moments where I get hit and get right back up and we can laugh about what a good sweep that was. Or when I need to take a night off to rest, and when I return, my teammates let me know they missed me. I've tried a lot of other sports that were less of a community and more of a competition, or that just made me feel like I wasn't skilled enough, so why bother. But VCDD is invested in my progress, and I am motivated to keep growing in ability and confidence. And I love being a part of the global derby network.
What’s something you’ve learned playing derby that has translated into another part of your life?
Fear of falling is scarier than the fall itself. Falling means you're pushing yourself- I am a perfectionist at heart and often try to avoid situations where I might make mistakes or fail, but you miss opportunities to grow and learn that way. (And that's why we wear safety gear!)
Do you have a favorite & a least favorite position? Can you elaborate?
I much prefer being a blocker, and I especially love being a brace for others. I like facing the jammer and being able to communicate to my team what is going on. I talk loud and talk a lot on the track. Jamming is the most challenging for me, catch me trying to pass that panty off at the earliest opportunity.
What do you do to get ready for a bout?
The night before, I like to watch "Bring It On"- it's a comfort film of mine, and while it's not derby, it helps me get out of my head about sports competition. I'm also usually baking raspberry bars for the bake sale, and of course I sample a few. On bout day, I make sure to have a healthy breakfast, a good lunch, and drink lots of water. I also usually apply some green face paint and eyeshadow to rep team colors!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about playing derby?
The "I've never skated before!" excuse won't fly- I'm a prime example. But for real, if it excites you or scares you just enough that you keep thinking about it, just do it. If you discover it's truly not for you, then at least you won't spend your days wondering what might have been. But you need to advocate for yourself! There is no one-size-fits-all for skill, timing, and your 'derby journey'. Go on an adventure and discover what you are capable of- it's probably more than you think.
Finish this sentence: When I’m not playing derby, I am _____.
writing comic books! I've written for some incredible publishers like Archie Comics, and I miiiiight have some roller derby comics coming in the future...
Do you have a derby mentor?
Not exactly, but all of my skills are a direct result of the energy and compassion of countless VCDD teammates, especially our coaches. And former Fresh Meat teacher Stellar!
What keeps you motivated to keep playing when things get tough?
My teammates keep me motivated, first and foremost. But also any time I feel like something is too hard or scary or advanced, I think about how a year ago, I'd literally never skated. My trucks were so tight I couldn't even turn. If you'd asked me to jump or transition or skate on one leg, I would have fainted. Getting outside of my head for a moment to take a bird's eye view of everything I've accomplished since Day 1 is a pretty powerful motivator to keep going. And there's plenty more to learn.
What’s your favorite part of skating with VCDD?
The people! My derby family. If it weren't for these teammates, I probably wouldn't have stuck with the sport- they inspire me to show up and get better every week. You get really up close and personal with the folks in your pack, so it helps to have good ones to lean on (or get bumped around by in scrimmage).
Any last bit of advice you'd like to give people??
If you are still learning and you get in your head a lot (like I do), instead of saying things like "I can't do a hockey stop" or "I should be able to do this by now," you need to rephrase your thinking. Changing the way I talk to myself, saying things like, "I can't do a hockey stop yet- but I'll get there." or "I would like to be doing this better, so I need to work on it." has completely changed my fear of encountering a scary drill or having an off night at practice. (Or if you're telling yourself "Oh, I could never play derby"- You just haven't tried yet!) Your feelings can bruise just as easily as your arms and thighs, so be kind to yourself.
Why did you pick your derby name?
I wanted a skate name that was both geeky and motivational. I'm a huge fan of Buffy and that show has great mantras like "Be brave, live." and "Are you ready to be strong?" Plus, I love being a 'toughie' challenging myself on the track.
And your derby number?
So apparently this is a Jersey area code, but I picked it because Season 6 Episode 09 of Buffy is called "Smashed", so it's another geeky joke. Plus I can wear my armbands upside down and the number stays the same!