TJRD Skater Susie Bruisie
When my mom first approached me about writing for the Toronto Junior Roller Derby blog, I was at first a little yes and no on the idea. But then, I had the awesomest idea…I wanted to interview Ashlea Wessel, a.k.a Foxy Sinatra (#13) of the Gore-Gore Rollergirls.
Ashlea and my parents were pretty close (through Rue Morgue) and it wasn’t hard to get a hold of her. When my mom told me she was up to it, I did a little happy dance and got straight to work on my questions (after I gulped down my dinner that we were eating when I received the good news)
I met with Ashlea, over cappuccinos, to talk to her about her experiences with The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and get some advice for girls interested in the sport. Here’s what she had to say:
Q1: How did you get into derby?
I actually got into derby before I even knew there was a team inToronto. I had heard they were starting it elsewhere, inNorth America, and I had always been interested in it, even as a kid. I was actually talking to somebody about starting up my own league, months before I found out there was one inToronto. When I heard there was one that had already started up, which was The Toronto Terrors, I decided to go out for the tryouts and that was how I started out doing it.
Q2: If junior derby had been around when you were my age would you have joined?
I think definitely. I was was never the kind of kid to play … I don’t know, “non-contact” sports. I always really liked the rougher stuff, so I think I would have wanted to get an early start on derby, so I could get into the contact stuff later on.
Q3: How did you pick your derby name and number?
(laughs ) I knew that was coming. My derby name actually started out as a screen name, it was kind of a nickname that I got from a crew of girls I used to hang out with. I would use it as a screen name online and I thought it would be best to keep it going. My number has always been my lucky number and I think it helps that it’s also a bad-ass number.
Q4: If you could change any of the rules of roller derby, which would it be?
I think there’s a lot of things that could be changed or modified a little bit. I think it’s really interesting that they’re talking about getting rid of minors and I’m interested to see what that’ll entail. I think there are a lot of minors that are unnecessary that I would get rid of. We’ll find out if that’s what happens.
Q5: How do you prepare for a bout, and what do you do differently for a championship bout?
For a bout, our team takes a lot of time, for one, to eat better. We have a schedule for how we work out and how we prep our bodies for an actual game. We do a lot of visualizing, closer to the date, which helps us kind of get into the groove. For a championship, I think the difference is you just get more nervous for a championship. But really, we just prepare for those games the same way we always do. The championship is just a game; you just have to play harder, if possible.
Q6: What’s your favourite thing about derby?
It’s always been the same thing. I really, really like the full contact and I love knocking people down. I don’t know, it’s just really fun to get out there, to know that you’ve earned some bruises and caused some of your own. Someday soon, YOU will be able to do that, too.
I actually hate ice skating, which is odd. I always roller skated when I was a kid, though. I had the Playskool kind-of-plastic roller skates and I also had the white ones with the pink wheels.
Even before the league started up in Toronto, I had recently bought a new pair for myself because I wanted to get back into it, just for kicks. So yeah, I’ve always been a roller-skater and I always will be.
Q8: You have had your share of injuries as a derby girl. What have those injuries been, and how have you been able to keep playing?
I’ve had three different knee injuries. Basically, the early ones were from…well, I was stupid and wore not-great knee-pads for the first one, so that was an issue. The second one was just one of those things where you fall on it the wrong way. The third one, it was twisted. It can happen all kinds of different ways, you never know. All I can do is try and exercise it properly and take care of it till its better. Ice it a lot, take the right supplements and just grin and bear it, try and get back in as soon as possible. It tends to get better on its own, thank goodness.
Q9: What advice would you give to Junior Derby Girls about health and safety in roller derby?
For health, it’s really important – and our team has been learning about this recently – is to pay a lot of attention to nutrition, really watch that you’re taking the right amount of vitamins and carbs. Just really eating well, because that’s going to make your body a better running machine for the sport. That also ties in with safety, because the stronger you are as an athlete, the safer you’re going to play on the track. And stay low. ALWAYS stay low.
Q10: How has derby changed your life in both negative and positive ways?
Other than the injuries, which can make it hard for me to do my job, I don’t have a lot of negatives. I have met a lot of people that have become some of my best friends, which is fantastic. You just feel like a more complete person, and a stronger human being, just knowing you can do something like this.
Thanks to Ashlea for taking the time to answer my questions, and to photographer Kevin Konnyu (www.flickr.com/fifth_business ) for the picture of Foxy in action.