A strong leader and seasoned coach with more than a decade of derby experience under her belt, Carmen Getsome lives and breathes sports. Read on to learn how this versatile skater honed her raw athletic talent to become one of the most prominent skaters in the game — and don’t miss the chance to see her in action in her hometown next month at the 2017 International WFTDA D1 Playoffs in Seattle, hosted by the Rat City Rollergirls.
Name: : Carmen Getsome
League: Rat City Rollergirls
Team(s): Rat City All Stars, Team USA, and Team Antik
Year you started playing roller derby: 2006
How did you get involved with roller derby?
I was working as an exercise specialist at a physical therapy clinic in March of 2006 and a rad young lady athlete was getting treatment there after her ACL/MCL/meniscus surgery and we were chatting about how she ended up needing surgery. She told me she fell during a roller derby game and said that if I wanted to see a game there was one coming up. I thought roller derby sounded awesome, so I went with a few coworkers and a friend (who now plays derby too: Ponyo Knees!) I thought it was amazing; I even went rollerskating the next week. But way back then tryouts were infrequent at best… so I just went about my life, playing soccer and working. Then, out of the blue, the rad young lady athlete that introduced me to the sport called my work (she had been discharged from physical therapy) and said, “Lacey, I know you thought roller derby was fun, so I wanted to let you know we are having a supplemental tryout next Wednesday.” This was less than a week away and I had only skated once since middle school, so I got my shit together, went skating that weekend, and — boom — I was prepared for tryouts.
As a note, tryouts had 44 people and I was a train wreck! I couldn’t stop at all, but boy did I try hard! During the tryout they made three sets of cuts. Each time, I thought they had written my name and number down incorrectly so I was sneaking into the next round. The league drafted five people that night and they made the announcement at the conclusion of the tryout. They announced my name last, followed by this statement: “Lacey, we know you can’t skate but we think we can teach you how pretty quickly.” Practice started the next day.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
As a kid I was never a skater. I do remember going to skating parties with my grade school a few times and I remember once renting rollerblades with my siblings and parents to skate around a local outdoor skating path, Greenlake, but that’s about it for skating history.
My career goal as a kid was to be an Olympian, and I really didn’t care for what sport, I just really wanted to participate in the Olympics. I did gymnastics, ran track, wrestled for a season, and of course played soccer. I played Division 1 soccer through college at Eastern Washington University, but I was far from a star player. I enjoyed my time in collegiate sports and learned a lot about working really hard and barely making rosters and what it takes to earn play time. This experience has helped me be more empathetic to athletes on my team that might not make a roster or get a lot of play time.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
I started playing roller derby before cutting the track was a penalty, so I never really learned much about stopping other then how to do a toe-stop-style stop. Rat City was known for its “speed team” style roller derby due to the multiple speed skaters that were on the team, plus the multiple speed coaches that were our league coaches. So I learned how to skate.
While I learned how to skate fast-ish and with good form and quickly made it on the all-star team, I didn’t skate in any all-star games that first year. I was responsible for selling merch during games and high-fiving everyone afterwards.
I did however play in the home team season. The night of tryouts I was drafted to Grave Danger and about one month later I was playing in my first game. I did my assessment about twenty minutes before my first game. The coach had a veteran skater hit me while I was skating around. The first time, I fell, so the coach said, “Do it again, and this time don’t fall”. So I did. After that I was told to sprint five laps. And that concluded our assessment. 🙂
What is your skate gear of choice?
I only put Antiks on my feet — I love them. Right now I have Morph wheels on with the Arius Platinum Plate. It’s a pretty slick set-up.
I wear an S1 visor helmet that is amazing! It protects my precious little face and I love that! (I went to buy the visor after Playoffs when I got hit in the face so hard I broke two teeth).
Do you have a pre-game ritual?
Well, not on purpose. I tend to be doing things for the team leading up to games and often forget some items that are really important for me to be able to compete, which means I end up doing a little problem solving before the game.
I now have a checklist to make sure I pack everything, because I have at one time or another forgotten every item you can imagine. From mouthguards to skates and jerseys to pants, I have managed to not have it with me an hour before the game starts.
Since I have so much experience not having all my things I am mass calm regardless of what has been forgotten and just figure out the solution to the problem without getting too worked up.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” — Nadia Comăneci
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth
Do you have a theme song?
The two songs I immediately thought of are the Chariots of Fire theme song and “All I Do is Win”.
What is your position of choice?
I wear hats and I love them. I used to jam all the time but I mostly pivot now. I love that I get to do a little of everything throughout a game; it keeps the games exciting and interesting.
How would you describe your derby playing style? Do you have a signature move?
I jokingly call myself a “lumbering jammer” because I am not that fancy. I just kinda go for it. As a pivot I pride myself on having exceptional pack awareness and being able to track what is happening around me both offensively and defensively so I can be prepared to take the hat and run at anytime.
I love the nickname I got in 2010 or so from a Rat City announcer, Randy Pan. He called me “Old Reliable”. When I was skating he often compared me to a 1990s Honda Accord, saying that while I might not be flashy, I was one of the most consistent players on the team. Since then I have always worked hard at consistently being able to repeat skills and tactics while pushing myself to learn new things and make them just as dependable as the already-existing skills.
You’ve been playing roller derby for over a decade now. What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in the sport over these past ten years? How do you envision roller derby evolving over the next ten years?
The game itself has grown, slowing down a few years ago to accommodate increasing understanding of strategy and now speeding back up as people are learning how to beat the slow strategies. I am excited for how this sport is moldable and ever-changing.
I am super excited that in the next 10 years we are going to see more and more athletes join the adult teams with 5-10 years experience and they are going to change the game as we know it. The athletes that started skating in junior derby that are currently on WFTDA and MRDA teams are already changing the landscape of our sport, and it is awesome. They are fast, smart, and understand what it takes to make great things happen. These young humans are going to take this sport to an athletic level that us old timers have dreamt about for years. (I mean seriously, watch the Rat City rookies at WFTDA Playoffs; Alyssa Pray and Roisy Rickle are both out of the I-5 Rollergirls Junior program and they are BEASTS!)
Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
I have so many!
Making Team USA in 2014 after not making it the tryout prior, getting feedback and working on those items until they were no longer liabilities. It felt amazing to know I had worked hard on certain skills and enough improvement happened where I was able to make the team.
Beating Philly in the 2015 Playoffs three quarters into the game to earn a spot to Champs for the first time in several years.
Attending a tryout where two women I coached when they were kids tried out to be on MY team!
Being in the final jam of the home team championships with my best friend, Shorty Ounce, and sister, Mayja Look, and winning the game. Big hugs and high fives everywhere!
The first time Team Legit went to Battle on the Bank we took third place. The reception we got from all the banked track teams was amazing! We were the only all flat-track team there and they loved us! I felt like by creating the team I was helping to bridge a gap in the derby community.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Pivoting for Team USA at the World Cup and taking a hat pass, what an amazing thing to get to do! I was so thrilled to get to skate with so many amazing athletes from around the world!
Off the track?
Coaching all the teams. It has been really fun to work with teams over the years and watching them improve their game. I feel lucky to have worked with several teams repeatedly and seen growth in their skills each time I work with them.
I coached I5 Rollergirls for several years and that was one of the best experiences ever! Those young people are amazing humans and great athletes! Coaching juniors is a rad thing to do and I encourage anyone who likes coaching to give it a try.
Who are your derby heroes?
I have been playing so long that I have several:
Let’s start with the one that might make you vomit because of how gushy it is. Vito Ramon, my husband, plays with Puget Sound Outcast and has been with them about five years. He joined PSOD when more than half the team was on Team USA for roller derby or roller hockey and it seemed the other half of the team had been speed skating since they were three. The fact that Vito could barely crossover didn’t discourage him but rather pushed him to work harder to catch up to his teammates. Now I love watching him skate. He has the best pop-ortunity in all of MRDA and drops people with a fast pop to the ribs with his butt. It is rad. He makes me proud.
Next I have worked for many of the last ten years alongside Sir Osis, one of the amazing officials from Rat City. He really invested his time and energy into developing an intelligent and motivated officials staff within Rat City, and I am so grateful to have had one of the best officiating crews in all of the WFTDA for my entire skating career. Osis and I have traveled the world together and I love how he always makes time for new officials to answer their questions and help them learn the game and how they can help make it better. He has cultivated a fantastic culture in the Northwest and he has positively influenced crews around the world.
And my partner in crime, Luna Negra, the infamous Lunacorn. She is such a talented and hardworking athlete I feel fortunate to skate on the same track as her every day. Luna comes to each practice ready to work hard and never lets any of us get off easy. She is truly an amazing athlete, and I love that we are on the same team.
I have two more heroes (I have been playing a real long time, so I think five is a fair number): Bicepsual and Lady Trample. They are my international FAVORITES! I love watching them play for similar reasons even though they play such different styles/positions. Both of them make their position look easy and they stay sooooo calm. I love that no matter the situation they both have a calm demeanor and seem to just move on to the next task.
Have you held any leadership positions in your league? How have those positively impacted your personal roller derby career?
Yes! I have done many of them. I’ve captained a home team, the all-star team, run our training department, worked out the interleague schedule, done a bit of sponsorship, managed our tenant facility rentals… I have done a lot of things over the last 11 years!
These positions have had a lot to do with my growth as a human which in turn has impacted my roller derby career. I have said before that I was taught how to talk like an adult (learned to negotiate and discuss differing ideas without getting angry) from my co-captain, Sara Problem, and that alone has improved how I tackle both the world and being a teammate.
What would you say are the keys to being a strong leader in roller derby?
I have been the captain of the Rat City All-Stars for six of the last eight years. Being a captain is really rewarding! There have been ups and downs, struggle years, and breeze years. But I think the key to it all is expectations and boundaries. Making sure the skaters and the leadership team are working together to set reasonable expectations for each other that they are understood by everyone is so important.
What have of the toughest losses of your career taught you?
Losses are always an opportunity to learn and if you frame the loss right it can set you up for success your next time out. You can’t win them all, and if you focus on learning every time you are on the track you will continually get better, regardless of the outcome of the game.
What is your job outside of roller derby? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I own a gym: the Snohomish Fitness Center. It is the most rad little fitness space in the world! We are like the “Cheers” of gyms! I have only owned the club for four years, so the last four years I have been working really hard off the track to build programs and attract other awesome people to the fitness center.
Before I owned the gym I was an exercise specialist for a physical therapy clinic. This was SUPER handy! I recommend working for a physical therapy clinic if you are starting roller derby. I was able to get therapeutic treatments during my lunch breaks, give myself ultrasound treatments, or get some stim and ice while doing paperwork. I had the best boss ever, Rick Jusko PT, who took lots of his time to help me stay on the track.
Readers might be surprised to learn you’re also a boxing instructor! You recently started teaching a noncontact style of boxing for people with Parkinson’s disease as part of a program called Rock Steady Boxing. We’d love to hear more about the aims of the program and what your experience with it has been like so far.
This program is the BEST THING EVER! It is called Rock Steady Boxing and this non-contact boxing program consists of 90-minute boxing style workouts where we train to improve balance, speed, strength, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and muscular endurance. Everyone in the class has the same opponent: Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause the deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech, and sensory function. There have been multiple studies that have shown how rigorous exercise, balance training, and improving core strength and rhythm can help to fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s. The most recent studies have shown that “intense forced” exercise (working harder than you might want to) can actually slow the progression of the disease!
The members of this program are amongst the most inspirational athletes I have ever met and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had this all fall directly into my lap. It is very much through fate that I ended up leading this program. I received two emails the same month asking if I offered this class and while I wanted to make it happen, the training was only offered way out in Indiana and was cost-prohibitive. While these emails were fresh in my mind I was chatting it over with an awesome personal training client of mine, Michelle Frost. She looked at me in disbelief as I explained the program and why I thought it was amazing but couldn’t figure out how to afford the training. When I finished, she said, “Lacey, do you know I am on the board of a nonprofit for those diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s?” I was like, “What?!? This is amazing!” We then spent the next hour (and several follow-up sessions) discussing the program and how incredibly awesome it was. Michelle helped me fill out the paperwork to get a grant for the training from the nonprofit Camp Brian. They fulfilled the grant and it sent me and my co-worker LaRae away to Indiana for training!
To learn more about this program and where you can take or volunteer for a class check out the website. If you are a science nerd and want to read the studies about Parkinson’s and exercise go here to nerd out.
How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life? How do you find a balance between your derby life and “real” life?
This has been a hard one for me, but owning a gym has forced me to get a little more real about it. I am very fortunate that my husband skates and my parents, Momma and Poppa Getsome, do photos and video respectively for the sport so I get to see them around derby often.
I have found in the last few years that a real off-season has been great at helping me have a better derby-life balance throughout the entire year. During my offseason I still work out but I take a chunk of time actually away from practices. This feels awesome for my body but also allows me to sink into projects at home.
During the season I make it a point to have a few non-derby days during each week so I can reserve time for me or to spend with non skating friends and family.
This fall your league will be both hosting and participating in D1 Playoffs in Seattle. How has Rat City been preparing for this?
Athletically we are working our tails off! We are super excited to be hosting a Tournament and we want to do well for our fans at our event so we are WORKING!!!
Organizationally, we have such a fantastic committee of people working on all the moving parts of hosting such a huge event. This group meets often to check in on tasks and get the next load of chores assigned. This tournament is going to be awesome. See you there!
What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby?
Be prepared to work hard and to be humble. Roller derby is hard but it can be amazingly rewarding!
Do you have a special message to your fans?
Hi fans!! Thanks for cheering for all the things all the time!
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