Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars
Northwest Knockdown Awards Ceremony (photo by Scott Englehardt)
Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars
Scott Engelhardt, Tom Igoe, Brendan McMullen
Posted May 15, 2009
E veryone with an interest in roller derby should be aware that the Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars won the 2008 WFTDA National Championship. We recently had the chance to speak with Donna Matrix, the captain of that team and intimidating blocker for the Queens of Pain home team.
Is this team a collection from home teams, or a separate entity?
We have four home teams, one WFTDA travel team, and one non-WFTDA travel team. The All-Stars are made up of skaters from all four home teams.
How do you keep the team as a working whole?
With any group of 20 people, there are going to be personality differences and a range of skill levels. But when you have a common goal, it is easy to focus back on it and to keep the team on track. As a team we are all 100% focused on winning games, with the ultimate goal of winning nationals. Each player on this team is so dedicated already that my job was more about maintaining a level of intensity throughout the entire season.
The toughest obstacle to overcome is building chemistry among girls who are on different home teams. But we worked that out early in the season and by the end, I think some of the partnerships on the all star team are even stronger than home team pairings.
What is your general regimen with the team?
I won't spill any beans here...but I will say that we have an extremely high expectation for each girl on the team. We push endurance and special skills, and try to get as much practice time together as possible. Is that vague enough? Sorry if I say more, my team will kill me!
What do you think your team does differently?
We have heard from many people that we are "a machine." I'd have to agree with that. We try to be in sync with each other so that we are all on the same page at every given moment. Ever seen Star Trek? We are the Borg.
Tell us about Nationals, how did it feel? Was there a moment when you knew you guys would take it?
Winning nationals was an incredible feeling! Kind of surreal. For me it was three years in the making. We have been busting our asses since the first Dust Devil, climbing the ranks. And it finally came to a head this year. It was amazing to have had a hand in that as a skater but even more so as a leader of our team.
The moment I knew we would take it was when we won Easterns! Easterns was a bit of a rocky path for us, so when we took first place I had confidence that we could win the whole thing.
What advice would you give other captains looking to push their teams up in the national rankings?
Choose your games wisely, and learn as much as you can from each game. Then adapt accordingly. Also, if you want to get better, you must push yourself outside your comfort zone.
What is your prediction for the Nationals this year?
That is impossible to predict. Teams change so much from year to year. If it's not Gotham Girls, I'd hope that it's an up and coming league that fights their way to the top and surprises everyone.
Where do you see roller derby in five years?
I wish I could say roller derby will be an Olympic sport but we all know that is not going to happen. I think this sport will stay relatively underground, and that is part of the beauty of it. I don't see any major changes in the near future, but would guess that the leagues will run a lot more smoothly. We will have had 10 years to work out the kinks and disseminate knowledge to the younger leagues.
Oh shit, and Junior Derby! The babies are graduating soon, right? Old ladies like me better be on the lookout for 18 year olds with two years of experience.
How would you feel about roller derby becoming a professional sport?
I would quit my day job! I think it would be great. It would raise the competition and the level of athleticism.