I first met Mace Ventura at a Wreckers practice over a year ago. I was immediately struck by her drive and intensity. It came time to do a hitting drill, and she pointed at me and said, “You! You’re gonna be my partner!” She wanted me to hit her as hard as I could and was always asking questions about how she could improve. More than a year later, I’m proud to say that Ventura has achieved her goal of making a home team. She is one of the hardest-working derby women I have ever met, and it was a pleasure to get to interview her about her derby journey.
I am also proud to announce Mace Ventura will take on Bend’s Smokin’ Ashes in the Heartless Heathers’ fundraiser bout this Friday night (November 15).
Mace Ventura jams against Rainy City. Photo by FunFrank.
QUISTA: After skating for only fourteen months, you were drafted onto the Heartless Heathers in October. Tell us about your journey from Wreckers to a home team. What were your biggest challenges?
MACE VENTURA: Well, I tried out for Fresh Meat after only two days on skates, and I knew I wanted to play competitively. So, in the very beginning the biggest challenge was realizing that I wasn’t going to make it on Fresh Meat for a while, and trying to be realistic about it. After my third tryout when I didn’t make it, I didn’t really feel that bad about it, because I had done everything I knew I could have done. I never missed practice. I cross-trained. But, I was like, how can I step up my training more than I already have been? So, that’s when I started becoming more creative with how to train harder.
CS: And what’s your training regimen like now?
MV: I do team practices and CrossFit strength training twice a week. I just recently started skating again with PMRD, which I hope to do more often.
CS: How have things changed for you since making it onto the Heathers?
MV: Since I started skating it’s always just been about me wanting to be better for me. And this transition onto a team is so awesome. Now, I feel a little bit of pressure because I don’t have to just be good for me now — I want to be the best for my team. It’s a different aspect of the mental game that I never had before. So, I’m taking a step back and realizing that the best I can do, that’s the best I can give my team.
CS: And how have the Heathers supported you during your transition?
MV: Well…(laughing) I ask so many questions. They answer all of my questions and concerns. I’m not ambivalent, but sometimes I want to know all of the aspects of everything. And so I’m very anxious to hear my teammates’ and captains’ opinions on strategy and cross-training and all the specifics of how you do a drill. They support me by just accepting the fact that I’m intense and ask lots of questions. It’s pretty cool.
CS: Speaking of intense, you won MVP during your very first bout!
MV: Woo hoo!
CS: How did that feel and how did you prepare for that bout?
MV: That bout was so fun because it was my first one! But, I have this pattern of getting too excited and too pumped up for things. And, so, the day of that bout I got a reflexology massage, I only had one cup of coffee, and I rode my bike a little bit, because I always use exercise to get rid of nervous energy. But the main thing I didn’t do was — I didn’t let myself listen to my favorite songs or music I like, because I knew they would get me too excited.
And, so, I tried to relax the whole day and it paid off. I only got three penalties, and usually I get a lot of penalties, especially if I’m super caffeinated or super stoked. It was a good learning experience about myself and my own performance: that I perform better and more consistent if I’m a little more relaxed. I don’t need more energy, or excitement, or anxiety, or whatever when going into a game. It’s just not something that helps me. But I’m still learning. Who knows?
CS: What are your goals for next season?
MV: Outside of just skills, my goals are to bust my ass in endurance and get it crazy good, so eventually I will feel confident being a jammer, or at least a relief jammer. I also have a fitness goal that I want to be able to dead lift 200 lbs. in the next four or five weeks. But more than anything, I really want to have a good presence on the track and with my team.
I also want to learn how to enhance somebody else’s growth. I’ve been so focused on me getting better, and I know there is a lot you can learn from coaching other people. Knife, who I really respect, said when she went from Gotham to a small league, she learned so much by helping other people learn. And I have been really selfish up until this point working to get better — I need to do this, I need to learn that, I, I, I. And I’m really excited to help somebody else get better with something.
Ventura handles Rainy’s jammer. Photo by FunFrank.
CS: Who are your role models in the league?
MV: The French Tickler is definitely one of them. I love that she’s super intense and she’s really strong. She brings this great professionalism to everything. I feel like it validates all this time myself and these other skaters put into this. It’s nice to see someone take things from structure to strategy to training so seriously, because it’s a good reminder that we’re doing this for a reason.
And, I would definitely have to say Winnie the Pow has probably been one of my biggest mentors from working with her in Wreckers. It’s such an inspiration to have somebody who just wants to be awesome at playing derby, which she is. And she’s committed to all these different things but she still coaches Wreckers all the time. She has this sweetness about her and compassion with teaching other people new skills that I really wish I could have more of.
CS: And finally, what would you say to someone who’s getting started in RCR and might be a bit intimidated? Someone who wants to do well, but is not really sure how to go about it?
MV: Someone who wants to play competitively?
CS: Yes, someone who wants to move forward as you have.
MV: Approach it from every angle. Don’t just go to practice two times a week and call it good. Go to all the practices. Go cross train. Pick up a book on sports psychology. I hate the feeling of regret. But I feel like you can’t feel failure if you took advantage of every little thing you could do. That’s why going into my fourth Fresh Meat tryout, I knew I was ready. But, I knew even if I didn’t make it I wouldn’t feel bad. Because I went to every practice, I cross-trained my ass off, I read the books, I prepared myself mentally. I think that Rose City is so competitive that if you’re starting out without a skating background, you can’t expect to just have practice get you there. You have to take initiative and find resources for strength training…and the mental game may be the hardest thing to work on. Yeah.
CS: Mace, you’re my derby inspiration.
MV: Aww…(hugging and laughing)
WRITTEN BY CONQUISTASCORE
Quista moved to Portland from Juneau, Alaska, where she skated with the Juneau Rollergirls. She joined RCR’s Fresh Meat last winter, but her progress was interrupted in June by a bad ankle break that required surgery. She has just started skating again with Wreckers and hopes to some day join her derby wife, Mace Ventura, on a home team. Quista currently puts most of her non-derby energy towards nursing school.