September Rollergirls of the Month
Enpsychopedia: Where are you originally from?
Smasha Fierce: Charleston, South Carolina
Morgan Grinder: Hampton Roads, VA
ep: How did you first get involved in roller derby?
Smasha Fierce: My friend took me to a game. I thought the skaters looked so tough and I knew I had to give it a try! So I emailed the recruitment head and signed up for the Derby 101’s and the rest is history.
Morgan Grinder: I've been coming to bouts to watch off and on since about 2007. I always thought it would be fun to play but never thought I could actually do it! In late 2011 I needed a new hobby and heard about rec league, so a few friends and I went to the skate shop to buy skates together. I'm really stubborn, so here I am three years later.
ep: What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
Smasha Fierce: I don’t have much of a skating background except a few birthday parties and Friday nights at the skating rink. I played soccer, basketball, tennis and ran cross country in high school and went to college on a soccer scholarship.
Morgan Grinder: I'm tall, so by default I played basketball from age 10 through high school. I also swam competitively from ages 12-16 but then stopped sports completely through college and afterward. I went skating at the rink sometimes as a kid, but I definitely wasn't a rink rat. Before derby I could never t-stop, my method of stopping usually involved intentionally skating into a wall.
ep: How did you pick your derby name?
Smasha Fierce: I am a huge Beyonce fan and I love how she created her alter ego Sasha Fierce. When Sasha was performing she didn’t have Beyonce’s insecurities and anxieties about going on stage. She was able to just really go all out for the audience as Sasha Fierce. I use Smasha Fierce to allow me to do the same on the derby track. Minus the dance moves sadly.
Morgan Grinder: I kind of wanted to just go by my real name but wasn't sure if I would regret missing out on having the whole "derby name experience" (whatever that is!) so I decided to keep part of my real name. It was nice to not have to respond to a new name in the middle of learning a thousand new rules and strategies!
ep: What’s the hardest part of being a rollergirl?
Smasha Fierce: There are lots of hard parts about being a Rollergirl! One of my biggest challenges, as someone with very little skating background but lots of aggression, has been trying to get my feet and skates to do all the things my brain and body want to do on the track. Also, time. It was much easier to balance sports and life when I didn't have to pay bills and rent and have a full-time job. Wait, can we go back to that?
Morgan Grinder: Time management and self-care. If I go to all of our available practices, that's 8.5 hours of practice plus a few hours of strength training per week. And I still have more skills I want to work on outside of practice time! This year I've learned that sometimes it's more important to skip a weeknight practice to spend that time preparing healthy foods to fuel me through upcoming practices and go to bed early to help my body recover.
ep: How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
Smasha Fierce: Before derby I was very much missing a community of strong and empowered women, and derby has filled that void in my life. I have met some incredible women in this league and made some lifelong friends in the short time I have been involved. Derby has helped me feel more confident as a person in everything I do. Also, I spend about 60% of my life in spandex and torn t-shirts thanks to derby.
Morgan Grinder: I'm definitely healthier, a lot stronger, and happier than I was before derby. I've learned a lot about setting goals and achieving them, overcoming huge obstacles, and not quitting.
ep: How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
Smasha Fierce: This is a constant challenge! I try to keep my derby goals and my "real" life goals in check and give extra attention to whatever is slacking at the moment. Any free time I get from practice and games, I try to spend it with my family, friends, and my cat Mowgli. The "real" life responsibilities that usually suffer the most are the ones that involve cleaning our house (sorry Zip Drive!).
Morgan Grinder: Derby life is my real life! I live with a teammate and a lot of my free time is spent doing derby-related activities with her and my other teammates. I have a group of incredibly kind and understanding non-derby friends who get together most Tuesdays, and we try to do fun things on weekends when I don't have derby commitments. I have to be intentional about creating some space for non-derby things in my brain, even if it's just saying no to watching footage for the 15th night in a row and reading a book instead.
ep: Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Smasha Fierce: Nothing too serious. I usually try to eat a good breakfast, do some stretching and meditating in the morning, and always ride to the game with my teammate Enpsychopedia. Oh and I HAVE to listen to "Run the World" by Beyonce a few times. Obviously.
Morgan Grinder: I try not to get attached to anything too specific on bout day, because those days can be crazy and unpredictable. Being flexible is important. I make sure to drink plenty of water, eat lots of protein and healthy carbs, watch footage of my opponents, and get lots of sleep the day or two before a game. When game day rolls around I feel prepared and don't have to stress about gulping down 3 liters of water to hydrate (that doesn't work anyway). I usually go eat a giant breakfast and get coffee with some teammates, then head to the venue for setup. I like having a quiet moment or two to myself before the game to think about my goals and remind myself how much I love playing roller derby, but I can do that by gearing up in a corner quietly.
ep: What things do you do outside of practice to stay healthy?
Smasha Fierce: I do my best to follow the weight lifting plan that our training committee has created for us. I also play pickup basketball and soccer when I can and I love to swim.
Morgan Grinder: I do our strength program 3 times a week, which involves lifting a lot of heavy weights plus some high intensity strength circuits with bodyweight, dumbbell or suspension trainer exercises. I also go to spin class to keep my endurance up and lately I've been adding short sprinting sessions with some of my teammates. I love kettlebell, yoga, hiking, biking and other outdoorsy things but can't always fit them in without overtraining, so I'm looking forward to mixing that up in the off season.
ep: What advice do you have for girls who want to join roller derby?
Smasha Fierce: Let yourself fall in love with it! It is intimidating and scary at first, but it's the best community I've been a part of and you will not regret any time you invest in roller derby. Plus, spandex! You know it's the best.
Morgan Grinder: Do it! You will learn a lot about yourself and find that you are capable of more than you ever thought.