Pearl Reckless has been a fixture in Atlanta roller derby since the beginning in late 2004. Those were the days before tryouts, fresh meat, or even knowing how to scrimmage. Pearl heard about derby from a friend in Austin (where the roller derby resurgence began) and was urged to try it for herself.
She went to her first practice in Smyrna with a small group of women who were teaching themselves how to roller-skate. “Not long after I started, I made a weekend trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and immediately went back to practice when I returned only to find out that they were no longer meeting in Smyrna. Apparently they forgot to tell the ‘quiet girl’ that practice had moved down to Fayetteville. Jerks.” She worked hard and eventually went from being the quiet girl who falls down a lot, to one of the most respected blockers in the league. She retired in 2008, and she’s bringing her devastating hits and smart play back to the track in 2013.
When asked about her retirement & decision to come back, she said, “So many reasons.” Building a league is hard work, and coupled with graduate school, beginning a career, and family trouble, fatigue began taking its toll. She stayed on for the 2008 season as an active retiree and subbed in for injured teammate Reba Smacketire, and then called it quits in 2009.
Thankfully, life has leveled out for Pearl, and she’s been able to return to the sport she loves. The hardest thing about coming out of retirement has been her own fears & expectations. “I want to be better at this sport than I ever was, but it’s not like I’m just a little rusty and out of shape. It’s certainly not just like riding a bike. The current state of roller derby is almost a completely new sport.”
The most rewarding part of coming out of retirement has been “having a league to come back to.” She takes pride in the work that’s gone into the league year after year, saying, “We started as a handful of dedicated women (and a few very patient and generously helpful men) and built this league from scratch.” She’s thrilled at how far ARG has come.
We’re happy to have you back, Pearl!
2013 rookie Feral Brady has been skating as long as she can remember. A competitive speed skater since elementary school, Feral competed on the national level into her teens. Fellow speed-skating alum Shovely Rita lured Feral into the derby world, and even gave her gear and skates so that she could start practicing. She hasn’t looked back. She’ll be wearing pink this season, as one of the Apocalypstix’s three rookies.
When asked about the origin of her name, Feral explained: “I am a stay-at-home-mom of a blended family. Two sweet kiddos and an amazing hubs. At home, I make crafts, make everyone use linen napkins while we sit at the dinner table, and do some home schooling in the summer. Very cookie cutter. Very Carol Brady. The Feral is derby. Being a part of ARG gives me a chance to play a full contact sport that requires an astounding amount of athleticism and training and I don’t have to apologize for liking it. Most people would categorize it as crazy, but crazy doesn’t rhyme with Carol”
Feral credits her family with helping make derby a reality. ” People don’t realize the amount of work that goes into derby. Some folks think it is all after-parties (which I have never even attended, lol!) and fun names (which, honestly, are kind of awesome!). During fresh meat there were five practices a week that we could attend, volunteering, and such. Now that I have been drafted there is even more. The only way to possibly balance home life, my business, and a FT derby life is with the support of my family.”
Feral calls derby her outlet. “This is my book club or MOPS [Mothers of Preschoolers] meeting,” she said. She loves the physical and mental intensity of derby, and credits working to become a rollergirl with getting her into the best shape of her life. Keep your eye on her this season, folks. She is fast.
Welcome to ARG, Feral!
This month’s Apocalypstix Player of the Game for their bout against the Denim Demons is the tiny, yet mighty, Quadratic Abrasion. After five seasons skating as an Atlanta Rollergirl (as an Apocalypstix, a Sake Tuya, a Rumble B, and a sub or guest bench coach for numerous teams), Quadratic Abrasion has seen and done a lot, but still credits her favorite derby moment as the very first whistle, for the very first jam, of her very first game. Quad discovered derby in 2007, when a friend of hers in graduate school stated dating a (now retired) skater, Ash Kicker. Quad tried out that year, and the rest is history.
One of Quad’s favorite things about roller derby is that it’s an attainable endeavor for a diverse group of women, and she loves watching new skaters grow in the sport: one of her favorite things is “watching that one dark horse skater everyone thinks might not make it to her first game persevere, work her ass off, and become amazing. It happens in every class I’ve seen, and it renews my faith in our sport every time.”
If there’s one thing Quad loves as much as derby (but still probably less than she loves her derby hero, Switchblade Siouxsie), it’s probably Math. In her professional life, she’s a college math professor and a role model for underrepresented groups in mathematics, like Hispanic women. Despite describing herself as the consummate scientist, derby brings out a rare superstitious side of Quad:
“I’m not superstitious at all normally—I even enjoy walking under ladders just to prove my point—but there’s something about derby that makes me believe in mojo jojo… I refuse to wear the other team’s color for at least a week before the bout, and MUST wear my team’s color somewhere on my body the week before a bout. I also impose this rule on Mr. Abrasion [her husband]… don’t let him tell you otherwise, he’s wearing something pink as we speak.”
Photo by Ed Selby
Now recovered from knee surgery and a bad ankle break, Totalitiffian is back to tearing up the track with the Denim Demons this season, and earned Player of the Game in the Demons’ match-up against the Apocalypstix last month. Totalitiffian—called Tali to most of her teammates—first discovered derby in graduate school, but waited to try-out for a team until she had health insurance (in hindsight, a wise plan). After getting a job (complete with health care), and moving to Atlanta, Tali considered joining the local women’s football league, but ended up trying out for derby instead, and has never looked back.
Tali’s love for roller derby is fueled by a motivation to see how far she can push herself: “I want to know what I can achieve. I continue to surprise myself…I love stepping on to the track at practice (or in a game) and seeing how far I can push myself. I love that feeling of a well timed (offensive) block that sends your tired jammer sailing through.” Tali played sports throughout her young adult life before discovering roller derby: she played varsity basketball through high school, dabbled briefly in softball, played and officiated basketball in college, and played quarterback for a co-ed flag football team that went on to win an Alabama flag football title. When she’s not on skates, Tali spends her time keeping fit through CrossFit, playing guitar, and dressing up her tiny adorable dog.
Photo by Website Dave
This season, Atlanta welcomes a talented double-threat back to the South Central region. After a very successful season skating with the 2011 WFTDA champions, Gotham Girls Roller Derby, Wild Cherri has relocated to Atlanta and is ready to tear up the track with the Dirty South Derby Girls, as well as the Denim Demons.
Cherri started playing roller derby in the earliest days of the sport, joining the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins for their inaugural season in 2005. In 2009, she moved to Bradenton, Florida, and skated with the Bradentucky Bombers for a year before returning to Tampa in 2010. In 2011, work took her to New York, where she played with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, and helped them secure the 2011 championship trophy. In addition to this serious derby cred, Cherri was a competitive figure skater most of her life, and won three national figure skating titles.
Cherri is the quintessential double threat: beating opponents senseless as a blocker, and making quick work of opposing walls as a jammer. One of Cherri’s best skills in both roles is her stability and power, and she credits some of her success in both blocking and jamming to her ability to stay on her feet and her toe-stop footwork: “When you fall you waste so much energy getting back up…You will see me pull out every twisting/jumping trick in the book to stay on my feet.” One of Cherri’s biggest motivators are her teammates: “Other people motivate me. I get excited when I see other skaters getting good and trying to learn more. I enjoy helping them figure out how to make what they do better. When we start doing it as a team that’s when I get excited. I’m also a little competitive.”
Photo by Website Dave