Atomatrix

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Atomatrix
By Geoffrey Stephenson
Photos by Elyana Rose Photography and courtesy of Julie Glass
Posted Sep 03, 2009
Although surprisingly only joining roller derby earlier this year, Julie Glass has already amassed quite an impressive resume of accomplishments and accolades. No stranger to being on wheels, Glass has won a plethora of worldwide speed skating events over the years. On the derby track, Glass goes by the name Atomatrix. Now skating as a jammer for the Oly Rollers in Olympia, Wash. Atomatrix has seen her league quickly climb all the way to #1 in the West Region in the most recent WFTDA rankings. She taught speed and stride training classes at this year's RollerCon in Las Vegas. And if all of that wasn't impressive enough, Glass also owns Atom Wheels, makers of exceptional quad wheels and also the official wheel of WFTDA. A true honor, we recently got the opportunity to ask Glass a few questions about all her thoughts on skating, the Oly Rollers, the upcoming tournaments, and her life outside of derby.



Tell us about yourself and your alter ego.


I’m competitive, driven, and passionate in everything I do…to the point where it’s been unhealthy in my relationships with my family. When I commit to something, it’s 110% all-out and derby hasn’t been any different. Even though I’d like to tell you there’s a difference (between me and my alter ego), there’s just not! I love that you can express yourself freely and don’t feel like I’m being judged when I’m around derby players and fans. In speed skating, it’s more cut-throat and uptight.

What is your skating history before joining roller derby?

I was born to skate, period! I have it in my blood. My grandpa was a skater who came straight from the Netherlands where ice speed skating is their national pastime and premier sport still today. I started competing quad speed at the age of 10, and switched to inlines when they were introduced into Nationals by USARS in 1992. I won quad speed nationals at age of 14 but the following year everyone’s quad skates were put in the closet and inline skating exploded. I picked up my first of 17 world titles in Perth, Australia on inlines (1995) and got a pro contract at 16. This was just the beginning of my life and its ties to skating. I fell in love with world champion Doug Glass – who raced for the U.S. World Team from 1986-1991. The first day I saw Doug, I told my friend I would marry him, and four years later I did. We started a skating business in 1997 with an Italian shoe cobbler – Luigino Verducci and are still in business with him today. My entire life has been skating and now with roller derby, the script just keeps getting longer.



Tell us a little about your win at the Real Berlin Inline Marathon in 2003.

The Berlin Marathon in 2003 was an amazing win. It’s the biggest inline marathon in the world with nearly 10,000 skaters participating. It happens every year during the same weekend as the runners. You can see in my face how ecstatic I was. It was the first time I raced it – I was skating alone with no teammates. Normally in the pro category you have 3-5 girls on a factory racing team all working for one girl to win. I initiated the sprint with over 500 meters to go and got a lead and kept it to the finish. I won nearly everything I skated that year – Pan American Games, Indoor Nationals, 7 Medals at Worlds in Venezuela, Berlin, Duluth and the New York 100 Kilometer Marathon. I will never in my life have a repeat of what I accomplished in 2003!

How did you get involved in roller derby?

I was chatting with my old coach – Robb Dunn (McSpeedy Pants from DDG) at Nationals in Portland last year. 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, we had a meeting and I committed.



Tell us a little about the Oly Rollers.

Our travel team is the Cosa Nostra Donnas – and if you know a little about the name you won’t be surprised to hear it’s tough to break into the tight pack of the core group of women. When I first started, they made me prove myself time and again (on and off the track), but in the end it brought us all closer.

Sassy was on the world hockey and speed team for several years. Tannibal Lector also played hockey at the world level and is a national champion in speed. There are also several more national level speed skaters on our team that I’m not mentioning; bottom line is that we have a huge background in skating! With that talent, it’s bringing everyone’s level of play up even the girls that had never skated roller derby before. I can’t say enough about our core group of ladies.

How did the Oly Rollers rise so fast in the ranks to become #1 in the West Region? Do you watch the rankings?

We were lucky enough to land two transplants from Rat City in Seattle – Blonde N Bitchin’ and her sister D Bomb. Oly had their first shot at a top ranking when playing Portland early this year. After coming out on top we finally broke into the top 15 nationally. We’ve been on the rise ever since after beating Denver, Pikes Peak, and the TX Hotrod Honeys. I watch the rankings, read text boutcasts and follow up on team stats. I always want to know what we’re up against before playing. Atom Wheels also sponsors Gotham, Detroit, and Texas so I’m always keeping in close contact with them on product development and bout results.



How do you feel about the upcoming WFTDA tournaments?

I am so pumped to skate Regionals in Denver with Oly and hopefully Nationals of course. I will be at Nationals regardless since we’ll have an Atom Wheels booth during the Championship. It’s tough being a skater and vendor at the tournaments but hopefully we’ll be finding support very soon to help with this.

Tell us about your recent experiences at RollerCon and ECE?

ECE was the first eye opener for me on all the fantastic derby players/teams out there. It is truly derby heaven with so many top ranked teams at one place playing WFTDA sanctioned bouts. It was non-stop derby action for two days! Can’t wait for 2010, and I am hoping Oly will participate as a team next year.

RollerCon is important to the sport, and if you’ve never been there I recommend you do. They have it all there – classes to enhance your abilities – jamming, blocking, falling, technique and speed drills. All skate/derby related vendors are there on site to answer your questions about product boots, wheels, plates, pads, gear, jewelry, etc. Challenge bouts to play in, parties to attend, tattoos to get, even have a wedding if your derby heart desires! For more details see their respected Web sites.

How do you balance your real life with derby life?

It’s second nature now to balance skating with my “real life.” They intertwine so nicely – it’s skating all day every day at work and in our household.



Tell us a little about Atom Wheels. Why and when did you start it and what is your main focus?

Our company is Nistevo Skate Manufacturing. We started with inline boots and frames in 1997. Our inline brand is Luigino and our wheel brand is Atom. We have an exclusive wheel partner who has been producing the world’s best inline and quad wheels for over 23 years. The same formulas that Doug raced and won Worlds on in 1989 is what Atom is using today. We started with inline wheels and once the company was in a position for more growth we started the quad portion. We became the Official Wheel of the WFTDA this season and plan to continue our promise to deliver to market products that enhance skater performance. That’s what we’re all about at Nistevo (which means “fast” in Greek, of course). Since the sport of “quad speed skating” died in 1993, only inline products have been evolving. The quad market is ready for new technology besides just wheels; it’s something we’ve been working on for some time…that’s all I will say for now!

What is your best move on the track?

Speed…it does kill. That’s our new ad: Speed Kills…The Competition. Look for it at Atomwheels.com.

What is your favorite derby memory?

Winning our bouts against Portland and Denver. They were both nail biters and our team learned so much from each of these bouts.



Any advice for newbies?

Learn the rules and basic technique first. To be a great derby player, you have to first become a good skater.

Anything else you want the derby world to know?

I had identical twin girls on April 15th, 2007. They have changed me and my life forever.


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