Kitty Shark (center) hits Jersey boy Rollomite (pic: David A Carter Photography)
By LeBron Shames
In “Between Jams” the Chicago Bruise Brothers have taken a few moments to sit down and interview top players in roller derby from around the United States and the World. To kick things off, we talked with Kitty Shark of the Pennsylvania All-Stars (who also plays as Evol Kitty for the Philly Roller Girls’ team called the Block Party) about her time in derby and experience with different squads.
How did you get involved in roller derby in the first place? And how did you get mixed up with those Philly Roller Girls?
I have been playing since March of 2006. I went to a benefit skate for Saint Jude’s at a local skating rink and saw a bunch of girls there with fishnets and knee socks. I was curious so I asked what they were doing there and they said “roller derby”. That was all it took for me. I joined the next practice they had and I haven’t looked back since.
I transferred to Philly in October of 2013 from the Lehigh Valley Roller Girls. Beforehand, logistics for transferring to PRG never seemed to work out. However, an opportunity presented itself at the end of last season that naturally made the cards fall into place. It is a 2-hour plus commute for me but I am able to share it with my derby wife who also plays for PRG.
You’re also a part of the new top-ranked Pennsylvania All-Stars. What’s PA All-Stars’ tour been like so far and what’s in store for the rest of 2014?
I have been on the PA All-Stars (PAAS) since its inception in 2011. It was started as more of a pick-up team but in 2013 it became much more serious and goal-oriented. We have a collective mind set that we will play anyone by any rules set (except Renegade) and the pick-up team mentality is long gone. We pride ourselves on our competitive game play and willingness to become more proficient in all rules sets.
At the end of 2013, the PAAS hosted the “Battle of the All-Stars” in conjunction with the Bux-Mont Roller Derby Dolls in Hatfield, PA. Eight different state teams (from MD, NY, NJ, NC/SC, OH, PA, VA, and WV) competed for trophies and cash prizes. PAAS took first place, NY second place, and MD third place. The purpose was to encourage other states to set up a competitive team for their state.
Due to its success, the PAAS have decided to host the Battle of the All-Stars II in November. We won’t be participating in State Wars (in November), as structure of State Wars would not allow for a pre-set team.
We are really proud of what the PAAS have accomplished thus far and are happy to be the pioneers in conquering a multitude of rules sets. It makes us very happy to see how we are ranked on Flat Track Stats.
You have gotten to play with and against other top players like Hurricane Heather (Steel City) and Snot Rocket Science (Steel City, Team USA). How does this help your own game?
We actually have a few Team USA players on our team – Teflon Donna (Philly), Shenita Stretcher (PRG), Snot Rocket Science (Steel), and VanEssa “V-Diva” Sites (Philly).
Obviously having such a high caliber of skaters brings that next level of competition to it, but that is just one piece of the pie. The PAAS are structured so that All-Stars from a multitude of leagues across PA can be showcased. This includes leagues that range from Division 3 up to D1…WFTDA-ranked leagues to non-WFTDA-ranked leagues. That is the beauty of our team. It gives those that are not a “big name” to shine. However, having those big names on our team certainly cultivates our skills, techniques, and strategies. Each league brings something different to the table and that helps grow and develop us.
You also coach men too. How do you use your experience to coach the Hooligans Roller Derby of Philly?
A really cool part of being on the PAAS and getting to work with different skaters from varying backgrounds. In my case, I can bring what I gain back to my own league and the Philadelphia Hooligans. I definitely have implemented the skills, techniques, and strategies.
I would like to think that the “any rules, anytime, anywhere” philosophy that the PAAS embrace and our drive to compete at the highest level has been a positive influence on my coaching. The Hooligans’ first ever flat track bout was against Mass Maelstrom so one thing that the PAAS and the Hooligans definitely have in common – go big or go home.
You can learn more about the Pennsylvania All-Stars by checking out their Facebook page.