Posts Tagged ‘athlete’

Luna Lovewound

At 3:22 p.m., February 20, the world lost Niki Vodraska, a sweet girl who loved drawing, styling hair, and spending time with her friends and family.

She also loved roller derby.

At the Burning River Roller Girls, we knew Niki as Luna Lovewound, #329, one of our newer recruits and a member of the Pyromaniacs. You may remember her as one of the top four finalists in Full-Contact Musical Chairs at our November charity bout, her big debut in the roller derby world.

Luna puts the lockdown on a chair while Jem A. Lition tries to nab it. Photo courtesy of Dave Brown.

Her name is a play on the Harry Potter character Luna Lovegood, a kind, light-hearted wizard who always saw the best in others and the world around her. It was a fitting name for a young woman who often skated with a smile on her face, an eagerness to learn and a love for life.

That life was cut far too short when a brain aneurysm took over the 36-year-old during a derby practice Sunday night.

While it could have happened anywhere, at any time, we are comforted to know that Luna’s last memory was of doing something she loved with a group of women who cared deeply for her.

Luna badge

Though she was no longer conscious, first aid responders, medical crews and doctors kept her alive long enough for her family and friends to be able to say goodbye.

The avid artist was a member of the creative team for the Burning River Roller Girls, a group of skaters who volunteer their services to designing programs, signs and more for the league.

Niki badge

Her most recent contribution was a logo for the Pyromaniacs. Her design featured a phoenix coming out of the ashes, a symbol she felt represented the rising athletes on the team and which she said had personal meaning for her. The league is now sharing that design as a tribute to Luna.

Please feel free to share your own memories of Luna or give your condolences to her friends, family and teammates here in the comments.

We will be retiring her number, 329, from the league and will keep you posted on more ways we plan to honor her in our upcoming season.

We love you, Luna. You will be so missed.

Photos courtesy of Victoria Stanbridge Photography.



The Burning River Roller Girls recently held tryouts for its two travel teams: the HazMat Crew and the Burning River All-Stars.

Please join us in congratulating the following skaters and welcoming newcomers to our travel teams. Our All-Stars will represent our league in competitions within the WFTDA North Central Region and are often paired in double-headers with the HazMat Crew.

And remember, this season our travel teams will have two home games at the Wolstein Center, which will be included when you purchase season passes.

HazMat Crew

Anna Malinstinct
Beatrix Wicked
Chelle Shock
Dagney Taghurt
Demona Driver
Halle Tosis
Kara Whack
Luz Cannon
Mandy Maggots
Mary Kaos
Molotov Hot-tail
Olive Bruises
Scarlet GoDancin
Sweet Heart-Attack
West Nel Virus


Bad Mooney Rising
CoCo Sparx
Eva Lucien
Hidden Ajennda
Ivanna Destroya
Mae Burnya
Maul-ibu Barbie
Morbid Cherub
oooh SHINEE!
Premo Donna
Punkd Pixie
Rainbow Fright
Soul Eater
Veruca Salty


x-TRON-x goes in for a block on The Eduskater.

Skater name: x-TRON-x
Team: The Rolling Pin-Ups

How did you get into derby?
It’s all Death Proof’s fault. In 2008, she saw the Plain Dealer article about the league. She asked me to tag along to the April bout at the North Olmstead Soccer Sportsplex. While watching, we were smiling ear to ear and knew we wanted to do this. We contacted Soul Eater, the recruiting director, and she pointed us toward Skater’s Edge to get the proper gear. We started that April going to the open skate sessions at the United Skates roller rink. Back then, the league would do a half hour warm up during the public open skate session. That was as close as we were allowed to get to skating with the league until the August registration.

What has surprised you about derby?
The amount of time and energy everyone spends is amazing. As recruiting director, Soul Eater was very diligent in letting me know how much time was required when you join derby. Even today, I‘m still surprised how much time members dedicate to the sport.

How did it feel to be the only team other than the Hellbombers to win the Hazard Cup?
Wow, just wow!
That was such a hard-fought game. The Rolling Pin-Ups were down 48-24 at half time. The Pin-Up blockers were able to hold back The Hellbombers, only letting them get 17 points for the entire second half. Punkd Pixie and Professor Booty (Booty was a Pin-Up previously) each scored double digits in back-to-back jams. It was so exciting. 


What’s your day job?
Electrical Engineer – currently doing double duty as a research and development member for one engineering team and a manager of a small production group that handles special customer modification requests.

What’s your biggest challenge in derby?
My biggest challenge is finding a balance with my time.
So much time goes into becoming a better player, that I often neglect my family and my non-derby friends. The guilt eventually rises to the point where I switch priorities. Unfortunately, when I have a bad game or even a bad practice, I switch priorities again to becoming a better player. It has been an ongoing struggle for which I haven’t yet found an acceptable solution.

Whose your personal derby crush in BRRG or the extended Derbyverse?
The one skater I find myself stopping to watch when possible is Quadzilla. 
He was one of the first instructors I had at the 2009 Blood and Thunder Boot Camp in San Diego. He was serious, but he found a way to make learning his drills fun. Seeing how agile and comfortable he is on his skates is something I can only admire.

Before joining derby, you would have never seen this color on x-TRON-x.

Tell us a fun fact about you.
I didn’t own green clothing until I was drafted to The Rolling Pin-Ups.

What position do you like to play?
I like blocker because I do my best as a blocker. I also like to play jammer, but jamming is my weakest ability, so I only do it during scrimmages that don’t count for any team rankings.

Anyone you want to thank or give a shot out to?
My sister, Danielle.  She was so involved and excited when I started roller derby.  She is a creative force and volunteered her time and talents to the league. She was involved in creating our 2008  and 2009 trading cards, as well as some posters promoting The Burning River Roller Girls.

Skater name: Premo Donna
Teams: Hard Knockers, Burning River All-Stars

1. How did you get into derby?

Premo Donna slips by Dita in Game 5 Season 5.

 I remember hearing something about roller derby a few years back and wondering if it was still around. Then I saw “Whip It” (like so many others) and wondered if Cleveland had a roller derby league. I looked online and found BRRG. My husband and I went to some games in 2010 and I was hooked after the first one. I bought a BRRG t-shirt and a deck of trading cards. The funny thing was, my cousin (Veruca Salty) was a rookie that year, but I had no idea. I even had her trading card and thought it was such a cool name (I’m a huge “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” fan), but didn’t recognize her in the photo on her card because of derby names. I saw her mention something on Facebook about an upcoming bout, looked into it and found out she was a Hard Knocker! She encouraged me to go to Fresh Meat sign ups that year and from then on I was hooked.

2. What has surprised you about derby?

 How physically demanding it is. I mean, you know from watching it that it’s a physical sport, but you don’t realize how much endurance and stamina it takes to actually be able to play this sport for an hour straight. I’ve always been in decent shape but have never worked out so hard in my life before I started playing derby!

3. What has been the biggest challenge to you in derby?

 My biggest challenge so far has been trying to get over being so hard on myself when I make a mistake or don’t get something right away. I’m my own worst enemy, and I tend to get really down about the things I don’t do right. I don’t give myself any credit for the things I do well either. It’s a work-in-progress.

 4. You came in as a rookie and tore the track up as a jammer. To who/what do you attribute your jamming skills to?

 When I first started, all I had was being fast. I could skate fast so I thought that would make me a good jammer. Then, during practices, I found out that you have to be really agile and be in really good shape so you can have the stamina to race around that track for two minutes straight. I would watch all these awesome jammers — Sparkles, Mommy’s Little Monster, Take-Out, Rainbow Fright, CupQuake, the Killustrator — and try to do what they do. Then, when I was drafted to the Knockers, Take-Out would teach me a lot about agility, using my levels, being a smart jammer — all these skills necessary to be a good jammer. She really encouraged me and taught me a lot. Everyone on my team has been so encouraging and they really helped me out. I try to put everything I learn into practice whenever possible. Even when I’m walking through a crowd, I try to practice my agility to step around people. I try to make myself really small and see if I can get through the crowded room without touching anyone. People may look at me funny but I’ve noticed a difference!

Premo lines up against the Killustrator in the Championship bout July 16. While they are competitors on the home teams, they are teammates on the All-Stars.

 5. How does it feel to be a rookie on the Burning River All-Stars?

 I was really excited to be accepted to All-Stars! I almost couldn’t believe it when they told me I was on the team. I was also really intimidated, playing with all these awesome girls, and playing WITH players I usually play AGAINST. It’s a different dynamic, but I’m so excited about the opportunity! I haven’t played a game with All-Stars yet, but the chance to play against leagues from other cities and other states is exciting! I’ve also been able to start developing my blocking skills practicing with All-Stars, which is really helping me in my goal to be a good Renaissance skater!

 6. What are your goals for the upcoming season?

 I’d really like to focus on being a good all-around player. I love jamming, but it is essential to be a good blocker in this game. I don’t always jam, and I want to be a good asset to my teams no matter what position I play.

 7. What is your day job?

 I’m a registered veterinary technician. I’m able to do everything a veterinarian does except diagnose, perform surgery and prescribe medications (all of which take about six more years of education to be able to do — just like a human doctor). A lot of people think it’s like a nurse for animals, but it’s so much more. I do nursing care, but I also draw blood, take x-rays, administer and monitor anesthesia, do dental cleanings, assist in surgery, perform laboratory tests, IV catheters and IV fluid maintenance, client education, and on and on. So many people think it’s playing with puppies and kittens all day, but it can be really stressful. It’s also highly rewarding, especially when the puppy you’ve been nursing through parvo for the last week gets to go home, happy and healthy, to the little boy who got him for his birthday.

8. Tell us about your horseback-riding hobby.

 I guess I never grew out of my “I love horses” phase. As far back as I can remember I have loved horses, so when I had a steady income and was able to pay for lessons myself, I started taking them. I’ve been at the same awesome stable for about four years now, taking lessons two days a week. I absolutely love it. I get to be around the horses, and I’m learning something new all the time. I don’t ride one particular discipline all the time. One day it could be saddleseat, and the next it could be dressage. I haven’t been able to show yet, but I’d like to get into that at some point. I’m also learning how to drive a cart, which is really fun!

9. Who is your derby crush?

Wow, I have been star struck from day one with BRRG! We have so many awesome players, it’s hard to pick just one now that I’m playing for the league! When I was just a spectator though, the skaters I liked to watch most were Monster and Rainbow. They both just look so happy to be on skates!

 10. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

 I have a trifecta of interesting hobbies — all of which require helmets. Before horseback riding and before derby, there was riding my quad (four-wheeler, to most people). My dad and his best friend would take us kids to Pennsylvania on weekends to go riding on the trails. This started when I was about 6 years old. I’ve been riding quads ever since. My dad and brothers have stopped riding, but my best friend Heather and I still do. I have two quads of my own, and it’s taken me across the country. I’ve met some lifelong friends because of it. We ride all over the place: trails in Pennsylvania, sand dunes in Michigan, Idaho and Utah. There was a time I actually wanted to get into racing, but it’s expensive, and now I work on weekends, which makes it hard. I don’t get to ride as much as I used to, but it’s in my blood, and it’s something I’ll never stop doing.

GrrAnimal and B. Onya Guard attempt to chase down the too fast Eva Lucien

The 2011 Burning River Roller Girls semi-finals night exploded into action with the Cleveland Steamers taking on the reigning Hazard Cup Champions, the Rolling Pin-Ups. This bout was fast-moving and action packed. Hits were hard. Packs were racing. The Rolling Pin-Ups sped to a 48-5 lead in the first quarter. But the Cleveland Steamers were not to be left behind. They battled jam after jam but couldn’t quite catch up. Halftime score left the Rolling Pin-Ups ahead 81-34.

The Cleveland Steamers came out in the second half skating their hearts out, still hoping to take down the reigning champs. The Rolling Pin-Ups were not taking the Steamers lightly. Hard hits sent skaters from both teams flying and even caused an injury or two. The Cleveland Steamers closed the gap a bit and never gave up. But after another extremely fast-paced half, the Rolling-Pin-Ups prevailed and pulled off the win with a final score of 118-67. They will be defending the crown July 16 at the Hazard Cup Finals.

Jammers Razor and Mommy's Little Monster cut it close

The second bout continued the excitement of the night with Hard Knockers taking on the Hellbombers. The pace of this match-up was a little different with the Hard Knockers using slow derby methods to catch the Hellbombers off guard and to try to shake up their strategy. The Hellbombers would have none of it, and blasted through the slow packs time and time again and pulled out to an early 24-4 lead. The Hard Knockers would not throw in the towel or give up on their strategy and forged ahead. They stuck together and made small gains on the Hellbomber lead. As the time ran out at halftime, Hellbombers led 91-40.
The Hard Knockers came out with added energy in the second half and kept pounding away at the Hellbombers lead. The Hellbombers kept fighting and would not be taken down. In the end, the Hellbombers took a commanding lead and won, beating the Hard Knockers 165-96. The Hellbombers will be facing the reigning champs, The Rolling Pin-Ups, at the Hazard Cup Finals on July 16.

Get your Championship Bout tickets at

Recap courtesy of Skully Smasher

Q:What prompted you to get into derby?
I started going to the bouts to watch Death Proof and cheer on the Steamers! Although I really didn’t understand the game except for the jammer having to get through the pack, I loved the atmosphere in the stadium; skaters, fans, music, costumes, skulls, tats – totally cool! I went to an open skate a week before fresh meat started to see if I remembered how to skate and bought my gear the following day! Been diggin’ it ever since!

Q:What about being on a team is different from what you previously thought?
I’ve played with other teams in other sports before and usually most of the time teams will “click” and everyone will get along, but for some reason in derby, teams just seem to bond more! I cannot imagine being on another team.

Q: What was it like, getting to skate in your first bout against Bleeding Heartland?
I’m sure I didn’t think this before the Bleeding Heartland bout because I was so nervous at the time, but playing there first helped take away some of my jitters for the first home bout in Cleveland at the Wolstein (just some)!  My HazMat teammates and all the vets calmed my nerves  from breakfast time until the bout started! I had never felt that much adrenalin with any other sport I have played. It was a total rush!

Q:What has been your most humbling moment in derby so far?
When I first started skating with the fresh meat I really had no skating or derby skills so it was pretty cool when I  passed the skills test.  And then little by little the vets started to trickle in and real derby began!  I consider myself a pretty competitive person so it was very humbling to skate with the vets.  It was like skating with my super heroes!

Q:Tell us about your off-skates workout regimen.
I workout pretty consistently off skates, I always have. I get cranky when I can’t. I love running outside.  I can’t do treadmills they are way too boring for me!  Ashtanga and Bikram yoga at least two times a week.  Spin classes totally suck but are totally necessary!  And since I started derby, I’ve been making an effort to do more plyometric training and weights, the really fun stuff!

Q:What has been your biggest challenge in derby so far?
My biggest challenge I’ve had with derby so far is being able to play faster, smarter derby. Not faster as in my skating, but the actual game. Recognizing whether I should be switching from offense to defense,  my position on the track, being aware of both jammers, communicating with my team.  It’s a fast, strategic game with a ton of rules!

Q:Any words of advice for someone considering trying out for BRRG?
The only advice I have to the future BRRG fresh meaties is to STAY INTO IT! Don’t give up no matter how many times you wanna throw up from line drills or hit your bottom on the floor!  It’s alllll worth it!

Q:Tell our fans one fun fact about you:
I’m a total biker chic when I can be!

Q:Do you have a pre-bout routine or any bout day superstitions?
I do anything but rest or relax before the bouts, I’m way too anxious to sit around.  I do a mini workout in the morning and usually end up spastically cleaning my apartment.

Q:Give a shout out to the Hot Mess fans out there!
Thank you to all the BRRG fans. We love and appreciate all your cheers!  Keep it HOT, keep it M3SSY!

Hidden Ajennda

Skater Name: Hidden Ajennda
AKA: Ajennda, Jennda

Q:Would you say that you’ve gotten anything unexpected out of derby?
Right now I have some unexpectedly sore muscles from a recent All-Stars practice (thanks RE!). Seriously, I really didn’t expect to find such an awesome and diverse group of women to spend my spare time with. People that push me day in and day out to be a better skater and athlete.

Q:Do you have a derby mentor?
At this point, I’d have to say Eva Lucien. I have a lot of respect for her both as a skater and a person. She’s taught me a lot, and I’m proud to call her my teammate and friend.

Q:Were there any “ah ha!” moments for you in your first season?
Not really. First season I just tried to be where people told me to be, or needed me to be. Any ah-ha moments I’ve had recently just reinforce the depth of the game, and how much I still need to learn –it’s pretty humbling, actually.

Q:The All-Stars are heading back to BrewHaha in Milwaukee again soon. What do you think is going to be different about this year?
I think the Killustrator and I will take down Professor Booty and Eva as the reigning Chicken-fight champs. Have you seen Killy’s muscles lately – odds are definitely in our favor!

Q:Do you have any goals as you prepare for the tournament?
More than anything, I want to be effective and helpful wherever the team needs me; I want to contribute to the success of our team.

Q:Is there another league that you would love to play one day?
I don’t think it’s a big secret I have a crush on Detroit.

Q:What bit of advice do you have for girls out there that are on the fence about joining derby?
Get on our recruiting list, talk to some derby girls, and come to some of the BRRG events. When the time is right, you’ll know it.

Q:What do you do for fun when you’re not doing derby?
There’s not much time for anything outside of derby, but when I get the chance, I like to be active and spend time with my friends.