Wow, it’s been a hot minute since I posted here! I won’t lie; I skated in my last bout a few months ago. I say the term “last” loosely, since there is still a huge chunk of me that won’t fully accept the fact that I might never strap on my skates for a derby practice ever again. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this blog and where it’s going to go. Who wants to read a blog called “derby girl eats” that’s written by a girl who is not even a skater anymore?
Well turns out people do, and friends have convinced me to continue endeavors. Once a derby girl, always a derby girl they say. It’s a good feeling!
Aside from a crazy busy schedule at work that initially took me off my skates, I was dealt a hearty blow with the passing of my mom on November 1. In short it has sucked the life out of me and although it was 6 weeks ago I’m still not 100% all here. For the first 2 weeks after that, I was a hermit. I lived in the same sweatpants and hoodie for a solid 4 days at one point during my week off of work for bereavement and my beloved boyfriend would pick up take out when I finally had an appetite and would remind to do things like brush my teeth.
My beacon of light was getting out to see State Wars in Daytona Beach. I finally felt OK to leave the safety of my couch and Netflix and see so many of my friends and watch the sport that had dominated my life for the past 4 years. If you didn’t make it out to State Wars, you missed some of the finest derby this state has seen since Franky Panky back in the summer. It makes me so happy that we pack so much great derby in this state. Between housing D1 powerhouses like Jacksonville and Tampa and D2 teams like Gold Coast and Ft. Meyers we have some damn fine talent. With Gold Coast’s Beach Brawl, Tampa’s Franky Panky and now State Wars we have a slew of world-class tournaments right here in our own backyard that you can access easily in 3 hours or less.
But aside from the amazing track action, derby peeps are just fun to be around. We’re a festive bunch! Between hearing Quadzilla and the boys from Team Texas giving side-splitting trackside commentary to seeing my all-time derby crush Tracy Akers showing up everyone with her twerking skills, I couldn’t help but have a good time.
The best part, though, was cheering on my friends and extended derby family on Team Florida as they played some amazing derby. Team Florida vs Team Denver (or Denocky as we stared calling it) was a real treat to watch, although every game was fantastic.
Though Team Florida had a robust and deep jammer rotation with the likes of Jamsterella and Little A (both former Team USA skaters), I was really looking forward to seeing PhDiesel do some work. Affectionately known as Diddy for short, PhDiesel is solid lean muscle that allows her to plow through walls and propel herself around the track. Why, yes, she does hold her doctorate in Kinesiology and is currently an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She teaches in the Physical Education program and just published a book that focuses on sociocultural issues in physical education with the goal of helping teachers become more aware of teaching and connecting with their students that might not share the same cultural background. No big deal.
Aside from landing a spot on Team Florida, she is a key jammer for Tampa Roller Derby on the track and helps develop their off skates training program. I was fortunate enough to train with Tampa for a short while before work took over my life, and once you’ve experienced their off skates training it’s easy to see how they’ve earned spots in Division 1 playoffs for years. Although 2013 wasn’t as strong of a showing as the team would have liked, 2014 told a different story. They defeated hometown favorites Santa Cruz, hungry and determined Blue Ridge and Terminal City who put up quite a fight in a nail-biting back-and-forth game. They played a very physical Minnesota and lost in what Diddy describes as one of the toughest game of their season. After coming in as the 7 seed, they left D1 Playoffs in Sacramento in the 5th spot. Again, no big deal.
League: Tampa Roller Derby
Tell me about yourself! When did you start derby?
I’ve always enjoyed being physically active – I ran track competitively in high school and college, and trained for half marathons and triathlons after grad school. I took a job at the University of South Florida in 2010. While out for drinks with a friend that was moving away one Saturday night, we ran into some derby girls and I asked some questions. Their next “meet and greet” was the following Monday. My friend convinced me that her “going away present” to her could be attending that meeting. That was July of 2011, and I think I’ve spent more time at our rink than in my office since that day!!!
What cool things have you done with your derby career? Where has it taken you?
I could never have imagined the cool people I’ve met and the amazing experiences I’ve had as a result of playing roller derby. I’ve visited some very cool cities with my travel team, competed against some LEGENDS of the sport, pushed myself to achieve things I didn’t think were possible, and experienced tremendous personal growth as well. It sounds extremely cheesy, but it’s absolutely true!!! Derby will change your life!
How has derby changed the way you feel about food?
I can definitely tell a difference when I’m eating “clean” and when I’m not – powering through a tough practice or driving a blocker out of play is a lot easier when I’ve had lean meats and veggies for dinner instead of something super processed, greasy, or fried. I definitely appreciate the “cheat” foods much more, and know what I can and can’t get away with if I want to perform at my best.
What healthy foods can you not live without?
When I’m heavy into training, my fridge is stocked with raw veggies, hummus, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt. Steel cut oatmeal and sweet potatoes are must-haves in my pantry!
What is your guilty pleasure?
SWEETS! All of them! Ice cream, brownies, and peanut M&M’s especially. Although I’ve never met a french fry I didn’t like, either. Wheat beers. Red wine. Oh geez, I didn’t realize I had so many “guilty pleasures.” I’ll stop…
How do you cross-train off the track?
I like to do interval workouts that include exercises for strength, agility, and speed. I was a sprinter in high school and college, so I love the challenge of stair repeats, hill runs, or “suicides.” I’ve really scaled back on the amount of distance running I do during the season, because it feels counterproductive. I once made the mistake of training for a half marathon near the end of a derby season, and my body was NOT happy with me. My brain knew what I needed my legs to do, but my poor legs just couldn’t do that much when I was logging 40 miles a week. Lesson learned.
Any special pre-bout meal that you swear by?
I’m a creature of habit, so I’ve figured out an “eating routine” and what my body responds well to before a game. For breakfast, it’s oatmeal with almonds or dried fruit and brown sugar, a banana, and coffee (half-caff if our game is early). Even if we’re travelling, I can usually find that either at a grocery store or a coffee shop. For lunch, I usually stick to something that won’t weigh me down, like a turkey or chicken sandwich, which seems to have enough protein and carbs to fuel me. I usually have a coconut water about an hour before the first whistle (I know the research says that coconut water isn’t any more hydrating than regular water, but it makes me feel more hydrated, so I’ve stuck with this ritual!). If our game is later at night, I’ll have a Clif Bar to hold me over. My teammates tease me because I have a little insulated lunch bag that I bring with me to the bench with my water bottle, a gatorade, energy chews, and a banana (for halftime, of course). But I can throw my skate tool and chapstick in there, too. And now that I wear a faceshield on my helmet, I carry a small towel in there, in case I need to wipe off fingerprints or sweat. (I think they’re just jealous of my snacks!)
Tell me all about D1 in Sacramento… What are some things that you did to prepare, and what did you take away from Playoffs?
For our playoffs in Sacramento, I knew there was a chance that we would face the #2 seed, and I’d need to be on top of my game to get through their blockers. I was really disciplined about my diet and training for the 6 weeks leading up to playoffs. I planned meals and snacks carefully throughout the day to make sure my body was getting the energy it needed for all of the extra training we were doing. I cut out alcohol altogether, which was tough, but not impossible. My sweet tooth is insatiable, so I had small portions when I did indulge so I didn’t go on any crazy binges. Besides, there’s calcium in ice cream, right??? Weekly grocery shopping and meal prep became a priority so that I wasn’t forced to eat any of my meals “on the go” and be faced with limited (or unhealthy) options. Our whole team had a training calendar to keep ourselves accountable and motivated, so I knew that there were 15 other skaters doing the same things I was doing.
We went in to playoffs as the number 7 seed, and ended up in 5th place at the end of the weekend. It was a great way to top off a really challenging season. We were so ecstatic! All of the “food sacrifices” that I felt like I made were really worth it, because I felt fantastic. Maybe it was all the adrenaline, but I know that eating well really contributed. Finishing the season the way we did only makes us more motivated for next year.
What is a go-to recipe that you’d like to share?
I’m not great about cooking nightly, so I really like crockpot recipes that I can eat throughout the week. One of my favorite recipes is a pesto lasagna with spinach and mushrooms! Here’s the recipe!
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen, chopped spinach
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I think I used baby Portabellos)
½ cup commercial pesto
¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¾ cup shredded provolone cheese
1 15-oz. carton fat free ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (25.5 oz) bottle tomato basil pasta sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (8 oz) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
Combine spinach (thawed/defrosted and drained), mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and tomato sauce in a medium bowl.
Spray 6-quart oval crockpot with cooking spray.
Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture.
Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan.
Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.