Friday, December 5, 2008

Scratcher in the Eye, the Cliffs Notes Edition

Skater Name: Scratcher in the Eye
Age: 31
Neighborhood: NoPo
Beverage of choice: Jamesons
Heartless Heather for 3 years

THE CORONER: Let's start where we always start: how did you get mixed up with the Rose City Rollers?

SCRATCHER: Sol Train. She is good friends with my father. My dad invited me to go out to drinks with Miss Sol. She told me how fun it was. It seemed the perfect mix of athleticism with violence. I've always been an athlete. I played soccer from age 5 – 18. I could have played in college but decided an education was more important. Prior to roller derby I had been training and performing on the trapeze.

When Sol Train first told me about derby, the RCR dues were $40 a month, and at that point there was no way I could afford it. I had just moved back to Portland and didn't have a job yet. A couple months later I got my first pair of skates and went to Oaks to give it a try. I was hooked immediately.

Did you skate a lot growing up? What's your skating history?

As any child of the 80's I did go to the roller rink on the weekends for fun. The roller rink is still around, Golden Skate in Vancouver, Washington. I didn't go there very often but I had fun when I did. My favorite part of the night would be staying out on the rink for the fast skate. I would go as fast as I could to the "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)".

You put forth a heroic effort in the championship bout against the Breakneck Betties, then ended up getting brutally tackled. What's it like having all 800 pounds of Ava Skatrix come crashing down on you?

It was unfortunate. I tore my MCL. As I was falling I was thinking get up quick then I felt someone on me and I thought to pull my knees in but it was too late. I heard a loud pop. It didn't even hurt that bad, but I knew it was bad. All that was flashing through my mind was there goes my chance to play at regionals and nationals for WoJ.

If you saw my face, it wasn't screaming F%&K out of pain, it was frustration cause I knew I wasn't going to get to continue on to play at the national level. It was disappointing to have all the hard work I put into training be useless and my dreams disappear. I'm still recovering. I am back on skates but it will be a few more months before I can play like I used to.

The local season is so competitive and cut-throat at times, yet you have skated alongside your RCR opponents on both the Axles of Annihilation and the Wheels of Justice. Have you ever found it difficult to put old rivalries or animosities aside and roll with a traveling team with former enemies? Do you think that maybe rabid Heathers fans overestimate the intra-league animosity?

I don't have enemies,... that I know of. There are individuals that I don't necessarily get along with. These are people I probably wouldn't get along with out side of derby or anywhere. These people are few and far between. For the most part I can let things go in order to accomplish what is more important (WINNING). One thing I think I've learned is that I can't change people and I'm not responsible for their behavior. This helps me to appreciate the positive things in people and let the negative roll off.

How has your team evolved since those early days, and how has your own game evolved?

Wow,... so much has changed in the 3, almost 4 years, I've been playing derby. For the first 4 months I didn't even know there was an out-of-bounds. I remember the first bout I played. It was the first season and the second bout we played against the GnR. We thought we didn't have chance to beat them. I played in 4 jams and in my first jam I remember riding Death Trish out into the audience. I thought I was so cool. It wasn't until after the bout that someone explained to me that I was hitting out of bounds.

For the first 2 years of derby I was known for playing kinda dirty. I always figured I didn't have that much skill so I had to make up for it with tenacity. Now I play a lot more cleanly. I will take an intentional foul when it's necessary, but I don't dive bomb people any more.

As a whole, derby requires a lot more strategy than it did when I started. It used to be every player out for themselves. Now we have to work more as a team. The 20-foot rule changed everything. We do a lot more pack drills and specific plays for specific scenarios. Also as players have gotten better and there is less of a divide in play level between players; we can trust each other more. There is so much more teamwork.

Did you grow up around here? If not, where, and how did you get here?

I grew up here. My mom and step-dad live in Vancouver, Wa. My dad and step-mom live in Portland. I spent many a night at the X-Ray Cafe and the old La Luna listening to local bands. After high school I went to Seattle to go to college. After college I moved to Boston for 4 years. Some where in there I also backpacked hitch-hiked and train-hopped around the country, Europe, and Latin America.

What are you occupied with outside of derby?

Right now I'm in grad school at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine working on my masters degree. I'm studying to be an acupuncturist, and herbalist. It is a challenging program and its hard to balance between it and derby.

I also love to ride my bike. Whenever I'm on break from school and derby I try to take a bike touring trip. I road to Ashland this summer and I took another trip to Coos Bay. I like traveling by myself. I don't have to wait for anyone and I can go my own pace. It gives me time to catch up on my thoughts.

Before starting school I worked in construction and landscaping.

How did you choose your derby name? Do you have a special fondness for JD Salinger?

Catcher in the Rye was my favorite book when I was 13. I can't say that I really love it now. Holden Caufield is really a bit immature and spoiled, if you ask me, though I certainly could identify with his angst when I was a kid. Mainly I choose it cause I thought it was funny and I could use a lot of references from the book to build a character.

Scratcher's favorite move is Holdin'. Then there is that photo of me throwing children off the cliff. The catcher in the rye is what Caufield wanted to be when he grew up. To catch children playing in the rye. Instead of catching children I toss em'.

How do you find time for it all?

I don't. Well I do but sometimes things slip through the cracks. Like most people in derby, I live a pretty busy life. I'm pretty good at time management and I fit everything in a tight schedule. An average week day for me is get up at 5:30 am and bike 10 miles to school. After school I bike home another 10 miles then study for three hours take a 20 min nap and go to practice. I skate for 2-3 hrs. Then I come home and cook food for dinner and lunch the next day and study for another hour. I go to sleep some where around midnight.

I spend the weekends trying to catch up on sleep and school work. I pretty much have one speed and its full boar until I hit a wall and have to take a break. Sometimes that break is 2 weeks of sleeping 14 hours a night and skipping practice.

In what ways does national-level play differ from intra-league play?

It's different. There is less show and more athleticism. At our home bouts we get to play around and perform for the crowd. When your competing nationally you don't have time to show off, nor is it worth it. There aren't as many individuals on a team that stand out cause there are so many good players. In general, it's harder, tougher, and faster, with better strategy.

What are you looking forward to in 2009, inside or outside of derby?

I want to go to nationals. I don't want to watch, I want to play. It's pretty much my main goal in life. Then I can retire and go back to the trapeze. It's a much healthier sport.

I also want to bike tour Cuba. One can bike the whole island in 3 weeks. I was going to do it this Christmas but the up coming Texecutioners bout got in the way. Hopefully next Christmas I can spend biking, camping on the beach and drinking mojitos.

What are you looking forward to in that match-up against the Texecutioners this weekend?

I'm a bit nervous. I'm not in quite the shape I was when I got injured. I'm excited to skate against the mothers of our sport but I wish I was at full capacity. I am looking forward to learning and getting my ass kicked. Unfortunately it's the weekend before my finals so I'm just flying in skating and flying back out. No partying or sight seeing for Scratcher. Just studying on the plane and getting beat up.

Your family were big derby supporters from the get-go. Are they still big fans? Do they still get out there and support you?

My parents love derby. They have been super-supportive. I think its the first thing I've done in my adult life that they were both proud of. I've been such a radical, anarchist, krusty, punk/hippy for so long that they see my participation in derby as me becoming more normal. derby is a lot safer than organizing protests and getting arrested for civil disobedience; plus I bathe more. Heck I'm even off the no-fly list now.

You can definitely see my parents at the bouts. They are always jumping up and screaming. I think my mom has been told to sit down multiple times. Clearly she hasn't been sitting in the Ice Box. She has season tickets and is usually in the VIP section. You can identify her by her Mama Scratch hoodie. My dad sits on corner two and yells at the refs. He used to host a tailgate party out of his motor home in the parking lot before every bout but Expo nixed it. I imagine we might see it return next season at the Hangar.

Is there anything you would like derby fans to know that you think we might be oblivious to?

I think the most amazing thing to me is that WFTDA is probably the largest women's cooperative in the world. Member leagues of the national association cannot be privately owned but must be skater owned. Its a great structure for businesses and organizations. It allows all of us to have a voice in the development of the sport.

An example of how awesome our national organization is is the development of our own insurance company. Before we were forced to pay to an insurance company to be able to play, and that gave us a deductible of $10,000. Here we are putting our health on the line, and our insurance deductible is $10,000. The ladies of derby saw how ridiculous it was and started their own insurance company. Now I pay less for insurance and my deductible is 3,000. Its a huge difference.


George said...

Great interview! Great skater! I’m flying to Austin this weekend too, so I’ll be there cheering you on, Scratcher! You won't be able to miss me - I’ll be the only Portland fan there sitting next to the jamline and holding signs and screaming like a freak! I can’t wait!

JeLLyPiG said...

Wow! I do love the profiles anyway but this one is mega cool. Scratcher not only has evolved as a player but articulates the evolution, hers and the sport very well.

I'll be spending this Saturday sending out all my groovy (aka drunken) derby fan love to her and the WoJ...while wishing for a boutcast!!!