September 2011 Featured Skater: Atomatrix

September 8, 2011

Continuing her habit of earning trophies for her performance on skates, Atomatrix has traded in the speed track for the flat track; skating as a jammer for the Oly Rollers’ Cosa Nostra Donnas. Leading a life dedicated to roller derby, including owning and running a skating business, she still finds time to raise twin girls. Learn more about how this derby girl brings the “eye of the tiger” to everything she does…

Photo by Joe Rollerfan

Name: Atomatrix

Number: 03

Home league: Oly Rollers

Team: Cosa Nostra Donnas

What is your roller derby playing position of choice?

What is your skate gear of choice?
Atom wheels, Bionic bearings, and Atom Gear Protective Wear

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Listening to music to "check out" and calm my nerves. Drylands and light stretching to get my muscles warmed up to do some "work"!

What is your favorite derby moment?
Going into the 2009 WFTDA Championships in Philly, after being an underdog from the then under-rated West region, and beating Gotham Girls Roller Derby, which set up our path to eventually winning the Hydra!

Who are your derby heroes?
Tannibal Lector. On and off the track she’s a wealth of knowledge in all things skating! She has also overcome many obstacles to accomplish amazing things in inline speed, world-level hockey, and now roller derby.

Do you have a motivational quote?
"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." I’m all out in everything I do. It’s exhausting!

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I mentally prepare myself for the task at hand. Winning 17 world titles in inline speed, when there were several times I wasn’t physically the strongest, was a testament to my mental game.

Atomatrix and Rose City's Smack Ya Sideways
Photo by Joe Rollerfan

Do you have a theme song?
I’ve always been a fan of “Eye of the Tiger.” Cheesy? Maybe so, but whatever works.

Do you have a signature move?
My quickness, agility, and lateral movement are what set me apart. It took years of skating experience, and continues to take hours of conditioning to continually stay at the top level.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
I was chatting with my old coach, Robb Dunn (McSpeedy Pants from Detroit Derby Girls), at Nationals in Portland in 2008. He was so passionate about the sport, it was infectious! I had been asked by Dani Lewis (Sassy of the Oly Rollers) if I wanted to start a couple years prior to this but I was just getting ready to start a family and the timing wasn’t right. At Nationals in 2008 we had a meeting and I committed.

How did you come up with your derby name?
Instead of Dominatrix, I settled on Atomatrix because it incorporated my brand name of wheels, Atom.

Any advice for girls who want to join roller derby?
You may not want to hear this. Work on conditioning/strength and technique to build a strong foundation and be less prone to injuries, leading to a longer career.

How long have you been playing roller derby? How long do you plan to continue playing roller derby?
I’ve been playing since late 2008. I plan on playing for another 3 to 5 years or so. It’s hard to not play when your business revolves around the game and sport, and it’s fun! I was born to skate.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Fast and furious.

Photo by Joe Rollerfan

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
When I was young, I started out doing everything you can imagine: dance, swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer. I had to narrow my focus on sports as I got older, and played volleyball and basketball in high school. I started competing on quad skates at 10 years old, and I was a National Champion on quad skates in 1994, and a World Champion on inline skates by 1995. During my skating career (1995-2004), I collected 17 gold medals and numerous silver and bronze at the World Championships.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
My greatest accomplishments would have to be the points I have scored for Oly in National/Championship tournament play. I love the moments where the game is on the line and it goes down to the final minutes of the game. I love the challenge of that kind of pressure! Those moments only come around once in a while.

Off the track?
My identical twin girls born on April 15, 2007. They are my greatest joy and biggest accomplishment.

Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
My rookie year was rough. The Oly girls are a tight knit group and it took me a while to be accepted. Learning the rules of the game was especially hard, in addition to learning to be patient. Patience on the track as a jammer is key to success.

From what we understand, you spend some of your practice time skating with the Puget Sound Outcast Derby men's league. As a skater, what do you feel are the benefits and challenges of skating and scrimmaging with men's roller derby skaters?
The benefit is definitely learning to play “heads up.” If you don’t, you will get smashed by someone much bigger and stronger! The challenge is trying to keep my mouth shut, because it’s a lot of fun to trash talk the guys as you’re kicking their butt! For the record, I do not trash talk on the track when playing girls. I may make a few comments here and there, but this definitely isn’t part of my strategy like other players. I think being strictly a jammer changes things in that department. I always hear from my teammates about girls talking on the track, which is surprising because I never hear anything!

You are a business owner and have used your business to support roller derby and the WFTDA. Can you please tell us about Atom Wheels, your involvement, and plans for future Atom roller derby products, including Atom Gear Protective Wear?
Atom Wheels: We have a line of inline wheels, which started in 2003. They dominate the indoor inline speed market and have a healthy market share in outdoor inline. In 2006 we decided to start a quad line. We’ve been growing steadily ever since. I have to admit, after getting directly involved as a “skater,” I was able to test my own product and figure out what the market needed, and the business began to thrive. Aligning partnerships with Derby News Network and the WFTDA has also been a key factor in Atom Wheels’ success. I’m proud to give back to the derby community and offer products to the market that enhance your skating experience! We’ve now launched Bionic Bearings, available in Swiss and Abec 7.

Atom Gear Protective Wear is also launching now, and will be in stock in mid-September. It was designed with skating in mind. The roller derby market is now using skateboard specific pads, which are great for falling directly on your knees, but not for skating with ideal technique. You will never see me fall directly on my knees; they are my biggest asset in skating, and I have to have them injury free to play! Learning to always put your knees at risk shouldn’t be recommended. I always do a baseball slide putting my palm guards out first. Getting back to the pads, I feel roller derby is ready for the next generation in protection, and I’m very proud to offer this to the market.

Photo by Joe Rollerfan

Are you able to achieve a good balance between roller derby and "real life," and, if so, how do you do this? Does having roller derby as part of your work life affect how you are able to find time for non-derby activities?
It’s very hard to balance family, work, and derby. It’s a constant work in progress. I have great family support, including my #1 fan and husband, Doug Glass, who is also a World Champion on quad skates and skated on the US team from 1986-1991. Our entire lives have revolved around skating, in work and as athletes so we’re used to it. We’ve been in the skating business together since 1997. The only job I’ve ever had is working for myself in sports I’m most passionate about (inline skating and derby). Even though there’s a lot of hard work and sacrifices, all in all I would have to say we’re living a dream and very blessed.

Please tell us about the Atom Derby All-Stars team? Can you shed some light on how Atom Wheels selects skaters for this honor? Will we ever see the All-Stars in action on the track?
I would love to throw together Atom All-Stars in the future for challenge bouts at the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, Rollercon, and maybe even Battle Of The Bank. But I’ve never discussed this with any of the girls. The All-Stars wasn’t brought out to be an actual “team.” They are athletes in the industry that I respect and look up to. They help with product feedback and are ambassadors for the sport and our products. We’re happy to be continually expanding our line of products in the market to give back to them.

Congratulations on being selected for Team USA that is competing at the Roller Derby World Cup this December in Toronto. What made you decide to try out for this team? What do you anticipate the experience of skating with so many amazing skaters–who you have never skated with before (with the exception of your three Oly Rollers' teammates)–will be like? What do you hope the team dynamic will be?
Thank you for congratulations on making Team USA; it will be an exciting adventure! When I heard about the tryout and opportunity, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. To compete for your country at the highest level the sport currently has, is an honor.

I expect the team dynamic to be positive, yet very competitive. With that much talent on one team, there’s no telling how it’s all going to unfold! I’m excited for it to play out soon, and the timing is great as well just coming off of Championships. We should all be in great shape.

Currently the Oly Rollers are ranked 1st in the WFTDA Western Region, and have held 1st or 2nd place in that region since joining the WFTDA in the fourth quarter of 2008. What does it take for a team to play consistently at that level? How do you keep yourself healthy and motivated to skate with your team at that level?
It takes a dedication to your team and dedication to your level of fitness and skating ability. I will be the first to tell you, my game suffers immensely if I’m not playing 2 to 3 times a week. I can get through it, but it’s not ideal! Being an exclusive jammer is even an extra commitment on the conditioning side. It’s an hour of intense intervals that you must be prepared for to excel at tournament level play. I will admit I pick those times in the season when it’s “game-on, prepare like there’s no tomorrow” and there’s times in the season where I coast: not necessarily at practices, but with the extra conditioning. I actually was running myself so ragged with life, work and derby that I just recently got over mono. After returning from our bouts in June (against Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in Denver) I was so sick. Luckily, I was able to rest up, and have since been cleared to play.

Rocky Mountain's DeRanged and Atomatrix
Photo by Joe Rollerfan

What advice do you have for other jammers who aspire to play like you?
Focus on technique and conditioning. I’ve seen so many roller derby players that have no history in skating and I’m simply AMAZED by how good their technique is! It’s inspiring and fun to watch.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
I have more confidence, stay in better shape, and am happy to compete at a national/international level while still maintaining home life, kids, and work. Whenever I hear that roller derby is a phase, I chuckle. You have to be a player to realize what the addiction is; I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon!

Any other information we haven't covered in the previous questions that you’d like to share with the readers?
Please contact me anytime with product suggestions and/or training advice (!

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.