TT Skater and Derby Daze Coach Spotlight: Bella Constrictor #155

Wheels of Justice just finished regular WFTDA season play and seriously rocked the competition. They are now heading into post-season and prep for Derby Daze, our very own Wheels of Justice bootcamp. We wanted to bring back our skater spotlights so that you can get to know your skaters and coaches! First up, Bella Constrictor #155!

Photo Credit: Keary Ortiz

How did you come to discover derby? Did you play sports before derby?

In 2006, my friend Slaybia Majora asked me to come watch her play with her team, The Heartless Heathers, in their championship bout against The Guns N Rollers at the Expo Center. I had no idea what was happening, but I loved every second of it! For someone was wasn’t in to sports ever, this seemed totally fun and totally accessible.

What is the origin of your derby name?

If Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes, snakes must be pretty scary.

How long have you been skating?

I’ve been skating since I was a tiny child (I had those Fisher Price plastic skates that go over your shoes), but I’ve been playing derby since 2009.

What other teams have you played for, and when did you transfer to RCR?

I started skating in for Providence Roller Derby in Providence, Rhode Island in 2009. I skated on a home team (Sakonnet River Roller Rats) and the All Stars (Killah Bees b team and Riveters a team). I moved back home to Portland in 2011 and was drafted to the Heartless Heathers for the 2012 home season. I just finished my 6th season with the Heathers and am proud to say that we are the 2017 Champs!

How long have you been on Wheels of Justice?

This is my third season with RCR’s All Stars

How has the team changed over the years?

There are no more boot covers or pace lines. I’m not mad, I’m just sayin’.

Photo credit: Tristan King

You’ve come up through the ranks and started making rosters in late 2016. What do you think contributed to you crossing the threshold to start making rosters? What did you have to do to get there?

Cross-training played a huge part in my improvement as a skater. Lifting weights and doing footwork drills like agility ladders helps me to stay strong, agile and reactive enough to keep up at such a high level of derby. Another factor is just getting to know myself as a skater. I’m not a flashy skater and I know my strength lies in staying with my wall and keeping it strong.  To prep for game day, it really helps for me to visualize using other skills besides just my skating skills to help my team win (I.e. How can I meet my teammates needs and help them do their best whether or not I’ll be skating too?). Watching footage and “talking Derby” has helped me hone my communication skills and to train my brain to always be thinking “next, next, next.” These skills are just as vital as skating and strength and agility. Lastly, skating with and being challenged by my teammates has helped me improve drastically. It’s true that skating with the best makes you the best.

What’s next? What are your goals right now?

My current goals are to continue to build on my aggression and intensity on the track. To continue to prove my reliability in game-play.  I’m ready to add more weight to my back squats, increase my speed on the agility ladder and skate in more jams than I did last season (even if it’s just one more jam! I count that as progress!).

How do you balance your physical job of working on a farm and being on Wheels? (Particularly now that we have practice four nights in a row…)

I nap a lot. Getting up so early for work and having late-night practices means I have to be very careful to sleep as much as I can, to eat as well as I can and to take the best care of my body as possible. I practice as an LMT as well, and try get bodywork whenever I need it. Derby athletes are notorious for powering through and I have to try to fight that urge and really listen to my body so I can make it through our long season. Additionally, my partner has been so supportive in helping me to meet these goals – encouraging me to sleep, feeding me and cheering me on. I am extremely lucky #HumbleBrag.

What makes being on Wheels worth it?

When you find that “flow “ state with your teammates on the track and you’re really killing it as a team. The best feeling is leaving the track with no regrets, knowing that our training paid off and we played OUR game. It’s pure magic.

Other than skating, what has derby taught you over the years?

1)Crop tops are for EVERYONE.

2) I’ve grown in my feminism. I’ll admit, I didn’t even know what intersectionality was before derby. Thank you!

3) I CAN AND SO CAN YOU

4) it’s not impossible if we do it together

What is the best derby advice you have received over the years? And what advice do you have for skaters looking to join their league’s travel team?

A huge lightbulb moment for me was in 2013, when my teammate Mel Mangles said, “play into the future… don’t go where the jammer was, go where they are going.” it blew my mind! Obviously there’s so many ways to interpret and apply this concept and it changes as derby changes, but it’s the advice that kick -started my mentality of “next, next, next.”

If you are thinking of joining your league’s travel team check in with yourself and ask yourself how hungry you are. Are you willing to do the extra work to grow and learn and improve? Are you ready to train harder than you thought was possible? Ask yourself why you are doing it? Do you want personal glory or are you stoked to be part of a well-oiled machine? Are you willing to the put the team first and give yourself fully to the roll they need you to play rather than the roll you may want to play? Are you open to critique and feedback? Because oh baby you’re going to receive it! Stay open, stay honest, be willing, be proud but stay humble. You’ve got this.

Catch Bella Constrictor at Derby Daze on August 11-13th and skating with her team on August 19th at the Hangar at Oaks Park!