November 2010 Featured Skater: Four Leaf Roller

November 1, 2010

While her students may not realize she has a life outside of the classroom, the derby world knows Four Leaf Roller as a formidable Pivot on the track. As a member of Nashville's Music City All Stars she has the honor of being part of the team's first trip to the WFTDA Championships as the #3 seed from the South Central Region. They made an impressive run at their region's 2010 Playoffs to make it all happen, and it's obviously due to the strong leadership and teamwork of individual members like Four Leaf Roller. Learn more about how this skater has been an integral part of Nashville's success...

Photo by Mark Duncan

Name: Four Leaf Roller
Number: 318
League: Nashville Rollergirls
Home Team: I skate with the Music City All Stars.

What is your (roller derby) position of choice?
I've played all positions to varying degrees, but I've really settled into playing pivot this season. I feel super comfortable in the front of the pack, and I like that when the whistle blows, I have the power to control the pacing.

What is your skate gear of choice?
I've been skating in the Riedell 195 boot with a Sunlite nylon plate for the past 4 years, and I really love how the 195 is cut low around the ankle. We practice on a super slick concrete surface, so I usually skate on Radar Flat Outrageous wheels to maintain good grip. Depending on where we travel, I will switch to a harder wheel by either Atom or Heartless, and the Radar Energy wheel is great for outdoor skating.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
My pre-bout rituals revolve around food and keeping my body warmed up and stretched. On bout day, I used to be religious about eating a big bowl of oatmeal followed by a run anywhere from 4-6 miles. Lunch is usually a big slice of thin crust veggie pizza. About an hour or two before I play, I'll eat a banana, some orange slices, and an energy bar. Based on advice from our trainer and other members of my team, I have had to taper off the running on bout day in order to optimize my performance when playing derby. I still feel the need to move and keep my body warmed up, so now I'll just walk or jog a couple of miles and stretch really well before I skate.

What are some of your best/favorite moments in roller derby?
My favorite moments involve winning against teams that have killed us in the past. Our first wins against Tampa and Atlanta were particularly satisfying because we all worked really hard to overcome our past losses.

Who are your roller derby heroes?
Whipity Pow has been fun to watch lately. I look up to her because she's small, very strong, and skates hard!

Do you have a motivational quote?
"This is it." Sounds simple and cheesy, but it's a quote that we use with our students at school. Basically it means to be aware of the task at hand. You don't get another chance to relive the present, so do the best that you can right now. For my students, it's a reminder to stay focused on their work. For me, it's a reminder to stay focused on the game. I'll say it to myself before a game or before a jam when I need to get my head back in the game.

What goes through your brain as you lace up your skates?
I motivate myself by thinking about my teammates. Just looking around the locker room and thinking about how strong and talented they are gets me psyched to play.

Do you have a signature move?
Stall, stall, stall!

How would you describe your derby playing style?
I think like most skaters, I use my size to my advantage. I find that I play more effectively when I skate low and positionally block rather than try big take out hits.

Photo by Ziv Kruger

You mention that Whipity Pow is a skater you like to watch and that you use your size to your advantage. How small are you? And are there any challenges associated with your size, e.g., did people tell you, "you're too small to play roller derby"?
Well, I'm just under 5'2" so when I started playing derby, I quickly figured out that I don't need to waste my energy trying to make big hits on opposing skaters. I learned that it's way more effective to push out and stall other players. I hear the comment that "you're too small to play derby" from people who've never seen the game. They seem to think that there is only one body type in derby. Fortunately, my league and the rest of the derby community doesn't focus on the size of a skater.

We understand that you're originally from Louisiana (and that's how you chose your skater number - it's an area code). What brought you to the Music City?
I loved growing up in Louisiana, but after finishing college I was ready for a change, and Nashville seemed like a good choice. I came to Nashville without a job, and I only knew one other person here. Thankfully our league was founded around the time that I moved, and within a few months I had started attending practices.

Advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
Derby is a lot of fun, but be patient with yourself, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Be prepared to push yourself and practice basic skills over and over again. I highly encourage new girls to work out and participate in resistance training outside of practice. The stronger you are, the easier it is to make your body do what you want when you're on the track.

This year marks Nashville's first trip to Championships, congratulations! The Music City All Stars rightfully claimed their place, rising from the #5 to the #3 spot after beating Atlanta 132-73 in the 2010 South Central Region Playoffs. How does it feel to have been part of this accomplishment and what did the team do to get there?
It feels pretty amazing! I still haven't quite grasped that we made it to the Championships! We've had a lot of line-up changes this season due to injuries and moving skaters. We focused on practicing a few strategies over and over and over again, and we've watched a lot of footage together. We also made a commitment to treat our bodies well and to work out outside of practice.

We've heard that you are quite a sweetheart off the track and have helped other skaters get up to speed in our sport. What advice do you have for rookies who may be scared to interact with veterans based on their derby personas?
Please, please, please don't be afraid to talk to a veteran! I like to tell our new girls that it took me a long time to build up my speed and to figure out my skating style. Most people don't strap on a pair of skates and kick ass. But actually, the rookies that I've seen come to our league within the past year are coming in with a lot more skill than our All Star team ever had when we first started skating.

Photo by Phil Peterson

Your league mates describe you as a great morale booster. What do you do in order to stay positive yourself and what do you do to share that with your league?
I stay positive by remembering that the number one reason that I play derby is because it's fun, and sometimes that can be easy to forget. I don't feel like I do anything that amazing to boost morale, but when I'm at practice I do take skating seriously, so I guess you could say that I try to lead by setting a good example.

We understand you are a school teacher. What grade do you teach? And what do your students think about having a rollergirl for a teacher?
I teach 4th grade, all subjects. The faculty knows about what I do, and they think it's pretty cool. A few of my kids know that I play roller derby, but they don't really understand the sport, so they just think it's neat that I like to skate. It's hard for some of them to grasp that I have a life outside of the classroom. In fact, they probably think that I sleep in my classroom over the weekend.

Did your background in education make you a natural fit in assisting with training? In some ways yes, but it's a WHOLE lot easier teaching a room full of nine year olds than it is a group of derby girls.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments?
Most definitely finishing 3rd place at South Central Regional Playoffs and making it to the Championships this year!

Anyone you'd like to take the opportunity to thank?
I want to thank my league for nominating me for WFTDA Featured Skater of the Month, and I'd also like to thank my family for supporting me over the last 4 years.

Would you like to be the WFTDA Featured Skater of the month (or nominate one of your fantastic teammates)? If you are an active skater on a WFTDA full member league that has a dazzling derby career, please contact and let us know what makes you shine.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.