Earlier this year Kalamity, Pinky and I went to San Fernando Valley Roller Derby‘s practice. We had a great time, got to meet a bunch of new skaters and say hello to some vets (Hey Killo Kitty!). Its a newer league in the area but they have some up and coming talent in their league that we got to witness when we scrimmaged with them.
One of the ladies we met was Irate Penguin, already I liked her because of my love of penguins (they are so dapper) then I saw her jam. She was really working to get through the pack and doing a good job of it. I was even more impressed by all of this because she is deaf.
Roller Derby is hard for the most ambitious, type A girl, you see many girls come and go because they can’t hang. I was so excited to see someone that people may not consider a typical derby girl playing and being effective. Roller Derby is a sport that I feel is welcoming to all types and it is great to truly see that in action.
PDA)How long have you been playing roller derby?
A little over a year
PDA)What league(s) are you/have you been affiliated with?
I first started with ACDG as Fresh Meat then transferred to SFV, for whom I played my first bout.
PDA)How did you discover roller derby?
I constantly skated on inline skates growing up, and just eventually wanted more out of it than skating around town.
PDA) What was your family and friends reaction to you playing roller derby?
At first, my mother was hesitant about it, but my father was elated saying he loved watching roller derby growing up. All of my friends thought it was “fucking cool”
PDA) How do your friends and family feel now about your decision to play?
My friends still think it’s awesome and my mother has warmed up to the idea of me playing
PDA)Who is a skater that you admire?
I honestly think everyone who plays roller derby deserves to be admired; it is a sport that forces you to challenge yourself. I have met too many amazing women it’s hard to pick just one I admire.
PDA) What has been the most challenging part of learning to play roller derby being hearing impaired?
(I do not consider myself hearing-impaired and if it has to be, then it’d be fair to consider hearing people sign-impaired or Deaf-impaired. I am a Deaf person, it is my identity. I was born Deaf, and it is not something I am ashamed of or makes me less of a person, which being impaired implies. Being Deaf is not a disability, but rather a linguistic minority with its own language and culture. Please do not put me or anyone Deaf and hearing-impaired in the same sentence, it is an offensive word to Deaf people. Do not worry, this is just a common mistake people make.)
(PDA: please note I left this part in here because I felt it was important and while I didn’t mean any offense to her or anyone else in the deaf community I do appreciate learning the correct way to refer to a deaf person. Now onto the rest of the interview!)
The most challenging part was making friends and showing up to practice knowing I would be the only Deaf skater out there, but I love skating enough to face that challenge to play derby.
PDA)How did you select your derby name and number?
I love penguins, and I love the number 13. I did not want a vicious name, but something fluffy and cute….like a penguin.
PDA)When not derbying it up what do you do for a profession (companies can
By day, I am a typical college student trying to finish homework on time.
PDA)What are your non-derby hobbies/activities/hidden talents?
I love to read and write, it is my passion and I could spend days just reading and writing. Also, I spend my free time learning foreign sign languages such as Japanese Sign Language and British Sign Language. I also am on a decathlon team for my college practicing for a competition at the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) biannual conference.
PDA) What do you do to communicate with your teammates in the pack or to let them know what you need as a jammer?(i.e, verbally, hand signals, psychic powers)
I lip-read my teammates, and they do understand me… sometimes. My teammates and I came up with some signs and we use them, they also ask me the sign for various words in American Sign Language so I’d say it’s a little bit of everything except for psychic powers (I wish!).
PDA) Do you intend to teach your teammates how to sign or have they started learning?
I am always willing to teach sign language, they know that and some of them have some knowledge of sign language. It’s a slow process, but it’s getting easier to communicate with them as time passes.
PDA) Do you feel that there are advantages to being deaf while playing roller derby?
I do not think it makes me play any differently, maybe I am more used to looking around me than others but it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
PDA)What is something you are super embarrassed about your teenage years?
I was late to Latin class once and knocked over the money box as I was getting in, spilling the money all over the front of the class so I had to pick it all up and put it back in before I even got to my seat.
PDA)Do you have Tattoos? If so what, where, and why?
PDA)What is your favorite movie (top 5 if you can’t choose)?
V for Vendetta,
PDA) What advice or words of wisdom do you have for other women that may want to play roller derby but feel like something is stopping them?
Just do it, and if you don’t like it you can at least brag you actually showed up to a derby practice.
PDA)What article of clothing could you wear every day?
My tie-dye jacket
PDA)What is your favorite type of accessory to wear?
I do not have a purse or anything, I just use my pockets
PDA)What is the most comfortable thing to wear during a bout for you?
My lucky rainbow socks
PDA) Any last words or anything you want to say?
Playing roller derby has been an amazing experience, and I don’t regret it because it opened up my world. Before, all of my friends were just students but now I know people from different walks of life, it’s broadened my view on the world. I love it.
After I got back Irate Penguins answers I felt like I made a new friend, maybe it was the penguin thing, the rainbow socks, wanting psychic powers (who doesn’t??) or the decathlon thing.
I am super stoked to see her go far in her Derby career, you should keep an eye out for her. I know I’m going to be!!