March Featured Skater: Freeda Radical

What is your derby name? Does it have any special story or significance?

Headshot by Andrew Potter, 2017

Headshot by Andrew Potter, 2017

Freeda Radical. I am a biologist and wanted a name that in some way was a play on something science based. I am terrible at coming up with puns and a friend actually took the term "free radicals" and turned it into a name. It just kind of stuck.


When did you start playing derby?

I started boot camp at the beginning of 2014 and started playing actual derby in 2015.


Which team do you skate for?



What is your favorite position on the track?

Pivot. It is kind of the best of both worlds. It allows me to focus on both my blocking and jamming skills.


Before derby, when was the last time you had laced up skates? (Quad or otherwise)

Hmmm. A long time ago? I grew up in the era of roller blades, but even then it was more than 10 years since I had skated. I actually did not know how to roller skate at all when I joined my first wave of Ann Arbor's boot camp.


What do you do outside of derby? What fun color does your life have other than this crazy sport?

Before derby it was just graduate school, but since joining derby I now commit a lot more time to the gym. I found Olympic Weightlifting because of roller derby and it has become one of my favorite things to do! I am also a dog walker so I get to meet a lot of cool pups around Ann Arbor. As of now I am wrapping up my PhD thesis for graduate school and am in the process of securing a post-doctoral position of the University of Michigan. Other than work, roller derby, weightlifting, the frequent Netflix binge, and solo dance parties; I am a pretty boring person.


What makes you come back to derby? Off skates, another sport, mental game prep, etc

It is hard to explain. Roller derby has given me a lot and continues to teach me a lot about myself. I keep coming back because it wouldn't make sense not to? It is now a part of my life that I really cherish and is something that helps me find fulfillment. There is nothing quite like pushing yourself physically and mentally and realizing you are capable of more than you ever imagined.


Photo by David Oliver

Photo by David Oliver

Do you have any advice for newbie skaters?

Well, do as I say, not as I do. I am not the best at good mental self talk, but I am working on it. I think the biggest thing is to realize that everyone is coming from very varied backgrounds and comparing your progress to someone else's is unfair to you. Learn early to be patient and enjoy the process of making gains because it never ends. You should always be pushing yourself and trying to find that new limit. Things don't get easier, you just get stronger - mentally and physically. One thing I am trying to do this year is work on having the mind of a champion. Champions don't fear a challenge, they run right towards it knowing full well they might fail, but regardless of what happens they will come out learning more about themselves and their abilities. Champions take failure as fuel to get better and don't let their perceived failures define them.

Posted on March 7, 2018 .