Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science

From Steel City Roller Derby to Team USA and the PA All-Stars, Snot Rocket Science has sported a few different jerseys over the years, but fans this season have had the opportunity to see Snot Rocket Science in her newest jersey as a member of the New Jax City Rollers! Learn more about Snot Rocket Science, how she’s adjusting to the change and preparing for Championships next month!

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science
Danforth Johnson

Name: Snot Rocket Science

Number: 6

League: Jacksonville Rollergirls

Team(s): Jacksonville Rollergirls’ New Jax City Rollers 2016-present, Team USA Roller Derby 2011-present, Team Florida 2016-present, Wolfpack 2013-present, PA All-Stars 2012-2016, Steel City Roller Derby’s Steel Hurtin’ 2007-2016, Steel City Derby Demon’s home team, the Wrecking Dolls (Do More!) 2007-2009?, Flying Sparkling Object Posse 2011

Year you started roller derby: 2007

How did you get involved with roller derby?
I entered as part of Steel City Derby Demon’s (now Steel City Roller Derby) first group of Fresh Meat.

I tried to start with them when I heard about the league starting in 2006. I went to the open house they had and was told they were full. So glad I tried again!

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I played soccer and roller skated competitively from age 6 to my teenage years. It’s cool looking back at regionals and nationals for roller skating and realizing I was at the same event in the early 90s as lot of the people that play derby now.

I always thought I’d go on to play soccer in college, but I ended up not doing that, so it was an unexpected sudden exit from competition, intense exercise, and skill work.

The few years before derby, I was absolutely missing sport and an outlet for my competitive drive. I just couldn’t find anything that gave me something as fun and hard to strive for as derby did and still does. It was life changing to find this outlet.

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science
Louis Keiner

Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
My rookie year was exciting, it was the year of crowded stands at bouts, and derby was so new. I mean, we were all learning it together and having a great time. I was always there for the sport of it, but it was a blast having a sport be immersed in fishnets and boobs and badass women. I never could’ve imagined that being a real possibility, and well, derby did it.

My rookie year had me completing Fresh Meat, joining a home team and joining the Steel Hurtin’ as we formed as a travel team at the end of 2007. We skated and partied hard. After a few games getting our butts handed to us, we decided we wanted to be more competitive and started working even harder. I learned so much those first couple years of getting my butt kicked.

What is your skate gear of choice?
I’m always excited to try new things but when it comes to game day, I’m very particular. Right now, I skate Bont Carbon boots, [Roll-Line](http://www.roll-line.it/0 Killer plates and Roll-Line toestops. For wheels, I like a lot of grip with a fast roll. The wheels I’ve loved this year on different surfaces are the Bont FXX, Radar Halos, Bont Ballistics.

I have a set of Mota skates ready to break in and test out during the off season.

I wear the S1 Lifer helmet, sparkly gold now for New Jax. Sisu mouthguard. Wrist and elbows are covered by 187 and I’m still on the search for the perfect kneepad.

Houseofsk8.net (formerly DerbySupply.net) are fantastic in keeping me covered and aiding in my search.

Do you have a pre-game ritual?
I need my music, I take it slow and need a little alone time on game day. I have a playlist that is just for gamedays- it’s a mixture of cocky rap, fast funny punk, and I sneak in an Elton John song. A few of the songs I would never listen to outside of getting ready for a game, but they’re exactly what I need to get to that place of let’s do this confidence and concentration for a game.

I also require a pretty long warmup to be really ready to go, so you’ll find me behind the stands, or somewhere, where I can stretch and practice lots of stops, running, toe stop moves, transitions, etc. before time with my team on the track.

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science
Phantom Photographics

What is your position of choice?
I love it all. I’ll play wherever my team needs me that day.

How would you describe your derby playing style? Do you have a signature move?
It’s probably being able to spin out of a block using the other person’s momentum to my advantage. I used to be one of the only ones doing it and now it’s a much more common jamming move. I’d say my style is a mixture of skating skill, hustle, adrenaline and control. But really, I do a lot of weird stuff out there, haha!

As for blocking, I do my part to make my pack stronger and more together. If I get separated, I’m still communicating with my teammates letting them know where I am. If I need to go 1v1 with a jammer, I’ll trap them until my pack mate can come to reinforce a wall. I try to be a calculated blocker.

I play bigger than I am and I think that surprises people that haven’t played against me before.

Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
London, 2011, at the first Anarchy in the UK. It was the first outside of the US international multi-game weekend if I remember correctly. Steel City, Montreal, Charm City and London. The moment has nothing to do with the actual games though. A bunch of us from Steel City were on the second floor as they opened the doors to the public and we watched in awe as fans literally ran through the doors to get a seat as close as they could to the track. Watching the rushing crowd was, wow – it was this feeling of realizing how much energy and momentum derby had. It was intense and inspiring.

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Making Team USA in 2011 was a feeling I hope to never forget and making the 2014 USA Roller Derby team was a huge accomplishment as well.

Right now I feel most proud about fitting in with my new team and working my butt off with them. I did as much preparation as I could before transferring but it still felt like a risky move. Luckily they’re incredibly wonderful people 🙂 It’s been a seamless transition.

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science
Tristan King

Could you share with us some of your personal training routine, on and off the track?
I weight train and do balance and footwork off skates.

On skates, I consistently work on my skills and stops – half plows, toe stops, edge stops, hockey stops. I jog and run on skates. I do a lot of work right by the line so I can practice not going out of bounds with my moves. And I’m on one skate a lot.

All of my training is balanced around how healthy my body is at the time and how much rest I need. This is so important. If I don’t keep an eye on that, my body will absolutely fight me to make it through the season.

What has roller derby taught you about pushing your limits, either physically or mentally?
It’s important to be all in, but you can’t escape burnout if you don’t escape once in a while.

What have of the toughest losses of your career taught you?
The toughest loss as a team felt like we were falling apart – like we were all individuals out there and not a team. I learned that that was rooted in poor communication even though we’d been working on communication a lot that year. A real trust wasn’t there, it hadn’t been formed. It was eye opening and led to a whole new path of teamwork.

The toughest loss I’ve had personally in my career was in my head. The scoreboard didn’t matter. I absolutely learned what a blip in confidence can do and that’s a rough, counterproductive road.

Who are your derby heroes?
Man, I don’t know how to answer this. There are so many people I respect and love in derby and for so many different reasons. As cheesy as it sounds, the derby heroes are the ones who support themselves and others on this journey. It takes a lot of guts to do this. Derby skating heroes come and go. I’m in awe of people like Varla Vendetta, one of the most positive, helpful, skillful, hardworking people I know. I’m in awe of Smarty Pants, business woman, top of her game, passing along confidence like it’s candy. And so many more. I’m in awe of those who rise up and bring others up with them.

Have you held any leadership positions in your league? How have those positively impacted your personal roller derby career?
I was a Co-Captain for the Steel Hurtin’ in 2011 and 2012 and I coached the Steel Hurtin’ along with playing in 2014 and some of 2015.

I became so much closer to the team during those years. I had to open up and find my voice, work with others and learn to use our strengths.

This year you made a HUGE shift and left Steel City, your home since you began your derby career in 2007, and are now skating with New Jax City. What prompted the change?
I wanted a space to push myself to the next level. To see where I could go, what I could do in top ten derby.

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science
Tristan King

How have the various teams you’ve been a part of – from Steel City to Team USA – changed your approach to the sport? How has it developed your sense of “team” within the community of roller derby?
It absolutely broadened what I felt “team” encompassed. We’re all striving for something within derby, no matter what your role or level. That’s what keeps it interesting and challenging and fun. As far as skaters, we’re constantly looking for the next skill, the next strategy and how to better perfect what we’ve learned. Everywhere I’ve been, every team, every training, there’s this eagerness to learn from others. We get excitement from each other. With every new pick up or all star team, that’s what I feel – it’s that new excitement in myself and the group, to be able to skate with these skaters that bring something new and different to the game. It’s incredible to skate with Team USA, of course, and the hunger for more is huge there. We’re in awe of our teammates, so we get really stoked to work with and wreck one another and even more excited to learn from one another.

I’m much more open and communicative from experiencing so many pick up and all star teams. Stepping outside of my league helped me grow and find my voice and really helped me bring that back to my home team.

What is your job outside of roller derby? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I’ve changed jobs so much for derby over the years and derby has been a huge part in changing the way I approach work. I’ve been a server, catering manager, busboy, bartender, property manager/owner and many other things over the years. I’ve always lived small. I’ve never wanted nicer things as I don’t want to have to worry about those possessions if they’re broken, lost or stolen. I don’t have debt and I’m selective in my work and also my expenses. My current work situation is dreamy. I travel to coach as much as possible and I do some online coaching. I also work as an executive assistant remotely for company based out of Pittsburgh so I’m able to take that work with me while I’m traveling and my boss is very supportive.

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?
As far as a derby/life balance, derby is definitely life at this point. I moved for derby, my fiancé is my former coach, coaching partner, and a derby player as well. Like most of us, all my money and a majority of my time are focused on derby. It can be both incredible and trying. I definitely cherish my time with family and non-derby friends. Being new to Florida, I’m learning to surf, stealing away to the beach as often as possible, exploring everything I can that’s new down here.

October 2016 Featured Skater: Snot Rocket Science

After a solid finish for Seed 2 at last month’s D1 playoffs, how are you preparing for Championships in November?
As a team, we’re honing our skills and strategies and we’re studying for our opponents. Changing a few things around.

I’m making sure my head’s in the right place and that my body’s ready to go. I’m watching a lot of footage. For me, the time at the end of the season is about being in tune with my mind and my body. I’m going hard at practice but my off skates is about maintaining what I’ve built up through the season.

Though you didn’t have an opportunity to face off against Steel City at playoffs, what was it like to see your old team play?
I left Steel City in March of this year after being a part of the team and league for 9 years. I think that’s the longest I’ve stuck with anything in my life at this point. To be able to be with them at Playoffs was wonderful. It filled my heart to be able to sit and cheer with my former teammates and friends as the team played their hearts out. I got to watch Hurricane Heather, BB Basher, Leanne Groll and Poppin Fresh play their last games with Steel and I’m so grateful for that.

If you haven’t seen the pictures, the team made tons of Snot heads on sticks and surprised me with them – I almost fell over! haha

While I was playing with New Jax, I could hear Steel City cheering for me. It was the best I could ask for, for us to all be supporting each other.

What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby?
If you want to, then do it, dangit. There are so many different ways to derby these days.
After that, enjoy where you are in the process.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
I feel so lucky to have so much support inside and outside of derby. Thanks for being wonderful! You help me keep pushing.

Also, thanks Mom and Dad!

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