Interview with a MILF

Ann Arbor Roller Derby's Wave 13 boot camp will kick off in just a few short weeks. Unsure what to expect? Here’s a quick interview with Fresh Meat trainer extraordinaire Skim MILF about what you can look forward to at Ann Arbor Roller Derby’s boot camp:

What can I expect from a typical day at boot camp?

A typical boot camp practice will follow this format

  • Arrive 15 minutes or more before practice to sign in, get geared up and ask the trainers questions (or just be social with other skaters)
  • Practice begins promptly at 6:30PM on Wednesdays, 10AM on Sundays
  • 10-15 minutes of warm-up and stretches
  • Skill instruction and drills
  • Endurance (at least once per week)
  • On and/or off-skates core exercises
  • Ample opportunity for asking questions and rest/water breaks
  • Group stretching at the close of practice

I can promise that you will have fun, laugh, work hard, sweat more than you thought possible, develop camaraderie with those in your boot camp, experience both failure and success and feel pride in your accomplishments.

Many new skaters find that boot camp turns into more than just learning how to skate and play roller derby. For some, it is an unexpected journey of self-discovery and an opportunity to meet and become friends with people both similar to you and those with completely different life experiences than your own. Many league members describe finding roller derby as “finding their people.” Regardless of how you describe it, a JOURNEY is an appropriate part of that description.


What will I learn at boot camp?

Boot camp is specifically geared towards the WFTDA minimum skills assessment. In order to become a scrimmage eligible skater (meaning that playing full contact roller derby is both safe for you AND for the people who will be skating with and around you), you must pass a minimum skills assessment. The skills included and the level of success required are determined by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and interpreted, executed and upheld by the A2D2 Training Committee. Sounds important and a little bit scary, doesn’t it? It’s really not :)

In boot camp, you will learn the following (and MORE):

  • proper skating form
  • how to fall and get up from a fall safely and swiftly
  • how to stop safely and swiftly
  • how to transition from forwards to backwards skating (and vice versa) safely and smoothly
  • skating agility
  • how to safely skate in close proximity to others (ie in a pack)
  • how to safely give and receive contact to/from another skater (both incidental and deliberate)
  • how to give and receive assists to/from other skaters
  • how to legally contact and hit other skaters
  • the rules of roller derby (as determined by WFTDA)
  • how to respect teammates and opponents and “leave it all on the track”

Things you are not likely to experience (or may only get a taste of) in boot camp:

  • scrimmage (there are controlled scenario-based scrimmage activities in the final weeks of boot camp)
  • play a game (bout)

The objective of boot camp is to get skaters to pass the skills assessment - plain and simple. Progression of skills in boot camp is typically dictated by the speed at which the majority of skaters have achieved understanding and appropriate mastery of new skills. Instruction almost always builds upon skills taught in previous practice(s), so attendance is important. Boot camp cannot slow its progress for a minority of its skaters, but the head trainer is always willing to provide extra one-on-one or small group help before or after practice on Sundays (as available).


"Boot camp" sounds intimidating/scary.

Boot camp is defined as “a short, intensive, and rigorous course of training.” What comes to mind for most people, however, is military training or behavioral reform.

Is boot camp intimidating? Just like anything else new or challenging, there will be some associated nerves and/or fear. You might feel intimidated by others who, in your mind, already have good/great/amazing skating skills, appear very physically strong, are extremely vocal, have strong and unique personalities, etc. I promise there is also somebody in boot camp who is intimidated by YOU. One thing I can guarantee, without a doubt.....every single skater in boot camp is more concerned about what they are doing and how they are performing than with how you “measure up.” Comparison is the thief of joy (Teddy Roosevelt). If you spend your time in boot camp comparing yourself to other skaters (whether freshies or vets), you will be missing the point – to make progress from where you began, where you were last practice or where you were 10 minutes ago. Your skills, your goals, your progress is YOURS and you must OWN YOUR PROGRESS. Don’t diminish that progress by concerning yourself with the performance of others.


For more information about A2D2's Wave 13 boot camp, starting September 2017, visit or

Skim MILF is co-captain of the Ypsilanti Vigilantes and way more awesome than your mom.

Posted on August 3, 2017 .

NextGen Aero Guard: Keeping Your Pearly Whites Safe

Since I started roller derby, one thing has always been extremely important to me: my gear. My gear protects me so I am capable of playing with a high level of intensity without fear of injury. However, no matter how protective a piece of equipment is, I do not want to wear it if it is not comfortable. If my gear is not comfortable, it definitely affects my gameplay because I am more concerned about my body than what is happening on the track. While most skaters think of these things when it comes to knee pads and helmets, I tend to think of a different piece of equipment: my mouth guard.

A mouth guard is arguably the most important piece of equipment a skater can wear, aside from maybe a helmet. It is there to prevent many types of injuries from teeth being chipped or broken to preventing fractured jaws and concussions. As a skater who has received multiple concussions, doing everything I can to prevent another is high on my priority list. However, a mouth guard that prevents me from quickly refueling and rehydrating on the bench or communicating with my team on the track is useless. After experimenting with many mouth guards, there was only one that met all of my criteria: Sisu’s NextGen Aero Guard.

When molding my Sisu NextGen Aero Guard, I noticed there was a different perforation pattern and a wider bite pad than earlier versions. The wider bite pad helped me feel more secure and I was less likely to stretch the perforation pattern out across my teeth making it easier to mold. I felt like I was better able to maintain a higher level of protection because of this design.

The increased level of protection I felt during molding proved true during practices and scrimmage. I have not had a single issue with feeling my mouth guard shift on the track. My mouth guard feels secure and stays in place, even during impact to my jaw. My teammates agree! Jenn Price, skater with the Ann Arbor Brawlstars, “I've been wearing Sisu most of the seven years that I've been playing derby.  I'm digging the changes though.  The wider bite pad and rounded edges makes the mouthguard feel even more comfortable and keeps my mouth guard in place.”

For as much as I look for protection during gameplay, I also require a high level of comfort in my mouth guard. The NextGen Aero Guard does not disappoint! The better fit certainly allows more natural eating and drinking on the bench. I am now able to spend more time discussing the strengths and weaknesses of our line rather than popping out my mouth guard to have a snack and drink between jams. The extra time to discuss gameplay has positively affected my mental game, allowing me to connect with my line. It’s amazing what a small change like a mouthguard can do!

Perhaps my favorite feature of the NextGen Aero Guard is that I can talk! When speaking with my old mouth guard, I slurred my words and I sounded like I had a slight lisp. The NextGen Aero Guard allows me to speak much more clearly, so I can communicate efficiently with my teammates on the track. I no longer need to worry about a teammate mishearing what I say due to my mouth guard impacting my speech. My teammates will tell you, I love to talk! And Price does too! “It's easier to communicate with my teammates and I never feel the need to take it out to get a point across.”

NextGen Aero Guard is definitely a mouth guard upgrade. It will enable you to have a mouth guard molded just for you, to keep you protected on the track and comfortable whenever you are wearing it. The next time you are in the market for a mouth guard, check out the NextGen Aero Guard.


Cora Slain is an enthusiastic and strategy-oriented Brawlstar, who loves skating and hates cross-training, but does it anyway because she really loves roller derby.

Posted on June 28, 2017 .

Toestops: Why Can't I Quit You?

I am very skilled with my toestops. If there was a toestop marathon, I would be a contender.

Image via Jammercandy

Image via Jammercandy

I am comfortable on my toestops. I love blocking on my toestops; I love jamming on my toestops. I love my toestops. My edges, not so much.

My strength, speed and aggression made me a good roller derby player, not my skating ability.  I had to work really hard to become a good skater.  I joke that I made it to Division One WFTDA playoffs last year without knowing how to skate, but a small part of me really thinks that’s true. Being on my toestops is comfortable, and being on my wheels is scary.

I am a coach as well as a skater. It really hit home for me the other day when I was explaining how something I really value in my skaters is coachability- the ability to take feedback and make a positive change with it. I'm not looking for an instantaneous transformation, just forward progress.

But my coaches and trainers have been telling me to use my edges for the past four years. It’s been FOUR YEARS. I have been receiving the SAME EXACT FEEDBACK for FOUR YEARS without doing anything about it.

Oh, I’ve made half-hearted attempts to get better. I've chanted mantras and made specific drills for myself. I've taken my toe stops off at practices (and knocked the wind out of myself more times than I care to count). I've made lofty goals and made declarations of how “This is the year I’m going to change, I can feel it!” And then it gets too hard, and I give up.

One of my trainers pointed out to me that I use my edges just fine in drills. It’s gameplay where the proverbial shit hits the fan. And it’s true. Whenever we do drills where the focus is on edges and not toestops, I panic. But then I do the drill and it’s fine and I realize, “Oh, I actually do know how to use my edges. This isn’t that bad.” Come scrimmage time, though, you won’t find me anywhere but my toestops.

So why is this a problem? Why do I need to quit my toestops? For a long time, I thought whatever works is fine. I’ve been doing a good enough job on my toestops. If that works for me, why not keep doing it?

The truth is, being on my toestops makes me stand taller than I need to be. It makes me unstable and an easier target for offense. I am less able to create solid seams with my teammates because I’m standing a foot taller than they are. I am pushed forward more easily, and I simply don’t have the speed and agility I could have if I used my edges more effectively.

If I had really focused on changing my skating style three years ago, it would have saved me a lot of heartache and mental anguish. But you have to get worse to get better sometimes, and I never wanted to do that.

Although I’ve come to accept that this change has to occur, I really appreciated last year when one of the coaches told me, “You either need to start using your edges or get lower when you’re using your toe stops.” It was nice to be given an option. Time after time I had heard, “Use your edges, use your edges, use your edges,” with no other option offered. Getting a choice made me think of my toestop dependency as a disability and my coaches were trying to help me work around it. However, it’s not a disability. It is a habit that can most certainly be changed.

This is the biggest thing standing in my way of play time, of being a great roller derby player, a great skater. At any time if I had focused my energy on this, I’m sure I could have made the change. It’s almost like it has been a security blanket I am reluctant to let go of.

After having these realizations, I know now what I have to do. I have to let go of my toe stops. I have to get a little worse to get a lot better.

I am ready to be a beast. I am ready to play at my potential. This is going to be the year I change. I can feel it.

Just Wingett is a Brawlstars triple threat and captain of Ann Arbor Bruising Company.

Posted on April 19, 2017 .

Sobriety in Roller Derby, Pt. 1: Getting Sober

Although the stereotype may be that roller derby players are party girls who can drink you under the table, roller derby was a large part of the reason I quit drinking. As I approach my second anniversary of being sober, I wanted to share my story.

I grew up in a family of drinkers and was drinking heavily by the ripe old age of 14. Shortly after I turned 17, I joined the Navy, and at 19, I was stationed in England. You know who can drink as much as a U.S. Sailor? Your average Englishman. I was totally immersed in drinking cultures before I was even able to legally drink.

In my heyday, I could drink an impressive amount. But what's the problem with that? Everyone should be allowed to kick back and have some fun, right? Most people who know me don't fully understand why I stopped drinking.“You're so much fun when you drink!” They say. It can be hard to explain as it is so personal, but I will try to name the reasons that I quit.

Sometimes, drinking WAS fun, and it helped me loosen up and make friends. Other times, however, I became violent and attacked people. More often than not, I blacked out and didn't remember any of it. Drinking was an excuse for any bad behavior, and it always meant that I got a hangover day. A hangover day was basically any day after a night of drinking, a day where I didn't expect myself to get anything done or try too hard. I could take it easy, to reduce the discomfort of the hangover. Hangover days also frequently involved drinking. This caused a vicious cycle of getting nothing done and being depressed because I wasn't getting anything done, which normally led to more drinking just to make me feel different. Not better, because it didn't normally make me feel better. It just made me feel different.

As someone who is fiercely independent and stubborn, I hated the idea of having to depend on someone else to give me a ride home, so I would usually just drive drunk. While sober, I would hide my keys just in case anyone tried to take them away from me later.

Drinking alone isn't as much fun, so I got myself into a toxic, abusive relationship with another alcoholic. We gave each other an excuse to drink, in good times and in bad.

Then I joined roller derby! I knew from the moment that I realized I could join freshmeat that it was going to be something I loved and something I was good at. It was like this sport was designed specifically for me. I was in love before I even strapped on skates or saw gameplay. I first joined fresh meat while I was in England, but I was only able to go to a couple practices before I went home. The first thing I did when I found out I was going home for sure was to look up the closest roller derby league at home.

I debated between two leagues, and A2D2 was the one who took my heart (forever and always). During my first social event after I joined fresh meat, I was very nervous to talk to people, so I drank quite a bit. I don't remember most of the night, but I know that I threw up, made a spectacle of myself, attacked someone, and someone else had to go through my phone to call a ride home for me.

I was absolutely mortified about this event after people told me about it. Mostly, attacking a skater I respected and looked up to was unforgivable. That was when I knew I had to quit.

But that's not when I quit. I took a little break from drinking, but I was back at it soon enough. A friend with a bottle of wine makes a convincing argument!

It wasn't until I made it to the Brawlstars that I quit drinking, presumably for good. It was the end of the season Brawlstars party, and I was a fresh member of the team. It was the first time that I had interacted with many of my teammates in a party situation. I came late to the party, and a few people were already drunk. I decided I needed to catch up, and catch up I did! I woke up in the middle of the night on the couch. No one else was there. I found my keys and I got out of there as fast as I could, still a little drunk but not wanting to be there in the morning.

Black outs are so scary because you have no idea what you did or said, how many friendships you ruined, what drinks you spilled, who you puked on. I heard stories later, and although it wasn't my worst night, I was, again, mortified to have behaved that way in front of people who I respected and looked up to.

It was time for a break from drinking. It might have been any other little break from drinking, because I tried to quit so many times, but this particular break came at an interesting time. My derby wife had quit drinking recently, and my brother had started going to counseling for his mental health issue and was taking a little break from drinking. This normalized sobriety for me a little. But it was something my brother said to me that really sealed the deal. His therapist had told him that, yes, he most definitely was an alcoholic, and that as an alcoholic, you can try to limit yourself to just one drink, but after a while, whether it's a few weeks or months or whatever, that one will turn into two, and two will turn into three, and soon you're getting blackout drunk again. Then you'll cut back or take a little break, and the cycle will start over. It will always happen. Those were the words that gave me clarity. It will always happen.

Unless you just stop completely, forever. Although my brother has continued struggling with his alcoholism for the past two years, I have remained sober. If it hadn't been for that perfect storm of events, I might not have quit drinking, and my life would probably be much more of a mess.

It's still difficult for me. There are many times when I remember the good parts about drinking and I think, “I wasn't really that bad. Maybe I'm not an alcoholic. Maybe I'm just being too hard on myself.” And then I remember the really ugly parts. And I remember the cloud of guilt and depression and not knowing that hovered over me when I was a drinker. After I stopped drinking, I didn't immediately feel better or feel like I had changed. It has been a slow process of resetting negative feelings and habits into positive ones, and at this point I feel fulfilled in a way that I didn't when I was filling the void with alcohol. Roller derby has helped immensely with that, but I'm also starting to see myself as a whole person, with good things in my life and good aspects of myself that don't pertain just to roller derby.

When I celebrated my anniversary of two years sober in December, I mentally sent a huge thank you to A2D2 and to roller derby in general. A2D2 has given me so much in the past few years, and helped me transform my life into something good. In the second part of Sobriety in Roller Derby, I'll discuss my transition into the community of sober skaters.

Just Wingett is a Brawlstars triple threat and captain of Ann Arbor Bruising Company.

Posted on April 12, 2017 .

Reviewing Personal Footage Without Bumming Yourself Out

Practice footage of yourself is kinda like an oncoming jammer. You can pretend it doesn't exist, but facing it head on can make you a better athlete.

Practice footage of yourself is kinda like an oncoming jammer. You can pretend it doesn't exist, but facing it head on can make you a better athlete.

I’m my own worst critic, and if I don’t pull off what I think I wanted to do in my head, then I won’t be a happy girl.
— Amy Winehouse

I recently had a leaguemate ask how to review footage of oneself without getting bummed out focusing on the things they SHOULD HAVE done. We have all been there. On one hand, it is good to know things you should work on! On the other, you also need to be able to use that review as a time to celebrate your victories, no matter how small.

Here are some tips that my leaguemates and I have found to be helpful when reviewing footage of ourselves:

  • The first time you review the footage, try and review it with a close derby friend. You will spend most of that time cheering for each other and pointing out what cool things happened. Your friends will likely find things to celebrate when you are struggling to see them. Enjoy watching the footage without being too critical. Try to laugh when something goes wrong, if you can.
  • Pay attention to the circumstances when things go your way, and also when things don't go your way. Were you jamming against your league's charter team? Were you one of two blockers on the track trying to slow the bleeding? Was there some great offense happening for you? Don't chalk your performance up to these situations completely, but do not let them go unnoticed.
  • Watch the footage in slow motion. One of the most amazing tools on YouTube is being able to watch a video at .5 speed or even .25 speed. You can pick apart what went wrong or what was the cause of your success. This is extremely helpful when looking to break down and recreate a scenario! 
  • Take notes! Write down the timestamp of something that went great. Revisit it later to remind yourself that you did something wonderful! Studies have shown it is incredibly important to have a mental highlight reel. If you have footage at your disposal to review, then you can have an actual highlight reel to pull up when you need a boost.
  • GIFs are your best friend! Use or as a learning tool. Cut up clips of yourself, or those who inspire you. This way you can watch one movement again and again and again... 
  • Ask for a friend to review footage of you in exchange for reviewing footage of them! It's SO helpful to have an outsider's perspective, and even better from someone who has no feelings attached to the event. 

In summary, take everything with a grain of salt. Ask for your friends' help. Take notes. Use all the tools at your disposal. Reviewing footage is something that can really help a skater's growth, and if you have the opportunity, seize it! 

If you do not have footage to review, record drills when you can! Set up your phone and hit record during practice. Ask your friends to record you and offer to return the favor. If you are learning something new or trying to fix a habit, being able to SEE it immediately after DOING it is incredibly useful.

Happy viewing!

I am Slamuel L. Jackson. I'm 3/4 jammer and 1/4 blocker for the Brawlstars as well as A2D2's meme master. I like animals, coffee, and bingeing Netflix.

Posted on March 30, 2017 .