Athlete Profile

Indigenous Women Are Jamming It

Team Indigenous
Photo: Tom Malko

Roller Derby has a new team on the block and they are giving a voice to Indigenous people thanks to Mick Swagger and friends

Athlete Profile is hosted by Chris Stafford

Podcast length: 51′ 54″

Mick Swagger is a former member of the USA Roller Derby team and the founder of Team indigenous. Mick is originally from the Diné Indigenous community in North America and the idea for a team of indigenous women came about through social media and it’s resulted in a team that took part in the Roller Derby World Cup earlier this year. When Mick put out a call for women to apply for the team she got a great response and more than 60 women came forward of which 20 were selected and the team now comprises women from different nations in the US, Canada, South America, New Zealand and beyond. And they come from a range of different professional backgrounds from a heavy metal worker to astronaut and lawyer. The women have come from far and wide. A team indigenous is unique in its heritage and culture and has a community that reaches far beyond sport making the women unique role models among marginalised people. It’s also given the women an opportunity to be among their own to learn of the families and the other nations and they also have another mission to raise awareness of the treatment of Indigenous communities. The Indigenous women who were murdered or disappeared along the “Highway of Tears” from 1969 to 2011 the fundraising contributes to missing and murdered women USA a charity based in the US. The women are also making a statement by coming together as a sports team and building a community across the nations which is giving a voice to the wider issues of indigenous people.  

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Team Indigenous Roller Derby on Facebook

Meet Mick Swagger –
Mick Swagger is a founding member of Team Indigenous Roller Derby and Head Coach of Team Aotearoa Roller Derby. Mick has been a dominate figure in the Roller Derby community for 10 years, having won 3 WFTDA Championship titles with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby and 1 World Cup Championship with Team USA. Mick owns a roller derby coaching business, Derby Swagger Coaching. She has been traveling the world coaching teams, mentoring coaches and inventing some of the top strategies and tactics used throughout the sport of roller derby.  Team Indigenous has been recently featured in CBC Canada and the New York Times, with a documentary film in the works. Mick is a social justice advocate and is passionate about her current work of decolonizing the sport of roller derby. She is excited to lead upcoming panel discussions on how to tackle racism head on within the sport of roller derby.

2009-2011 Rose City Wheels of Justice blocker

2012-2014 Gotham Girls Roller Derby All Stars blocker (won 3 consecutive championships)

2014 Blood and Thunder World Cup Team USA blocker

2015 Victorian Roller Derby League All Star Bench Coach 

2015-2016 Rainy City All Stars Coach

2016 Victorian Roller Derby League All Star blocker

2016 Rainy City All Stars Bench Coach (their ranking went from 107-21 in this year)

2017 Team Aotearoa World Cup Head Coach(placed 10 of 38 teams)

2018 Team Indigenous Founder and player (placed 27 of 38 teams)



[00:00:00] My guest today is Mick Swagger, a former member of the USA Roller Derby team and the founder of Team indigenous. Mick is originally from the Diné Indigenous community in North America and the idea for a team of indigenous women came about through social media and it’s resulted in a team that took part in the Roller Derby World Cup earlier this year. When Mick put out a call for women to apply for the team she got a great response and more than 60 women came forward of which 20 were selected and the team now comprises women from different nations in the US, Canada, South America, New Zealand and beyond. And they come from a range of different professional backgrounds from a heavy metal worker to astronaut and lawyer. The women have come from far and wide. A team indigenous is unique in its heritage and culture and has a community that reaches far beyond sport making the women unique role models among marginalised people. It’s also given the women an opportunity to be among their own to learn of the families and the other nations and they also have another mission to raise awareness of the treatment of Indigenous communities. The Indigenous women who were murdered or disappeared along the “Highway of Tears” from 1969 to 2011 the fundraising contributes to missing and murdered women USA a charity based in the US. The women are also making a statement by coming together as a sports team and building a community across the nations which is giving a voice to the wider issues of indigenous people.

[00:01:40] Mick explains why this is important and also we’ll learn how inclusive the team is with their approach to the players roles.

[00:01:49] Mick welcome to the program. Hi thank you me.

[00:01:53] Tell us why you’re in Bordeaux. Well I coach Roller Derby around the Eagles and a small Ahmat happily coaching with my wife in Europe.

[00:02:04] Well that’s beautiful so the perfect lifestyle then for you?

[00:02:07] It’s been pretty wonderful and I’ve been doing it for about four years now so I’m enjoying it quite a bit now.

[00:02:14] Did you give up a day job then for this. What was your life before this?

[00:02:20] I did have a job. I were a Social worker and teacher at a Native American Family Centre are based in Portland Oregon called the Nayaf Families Centre and I joined the derby at the time that I was working there because and you know we’re islands and I need a sport in my life again and will be kind of like my life. And yeah kind of gave myself for the last 10 years.

[00:02:49] Well you certainly made something of it. We want to tell the story of course of the team that you now have in digital Trent Rowbottom team. And of course you were at the championships in Manchester recently so we’re going to talk all about that a little bit later in the program but your story is unique make because it’s not just as we know when you join a team of any sport. You seem to have an automatic an extended family it becomes a camaraderie. It’s much more than the sport itself and you build a community around it. And of course it has a history. But yours is so much more than that. It’s really a heritage it’s it’s an extended community of course and it’s political it’s almost become a movement in and of itself. So let’s talk a little bit about the roots of this and your origins because that’s really the basis for this team isn’t it for Team indigenous yes for sure.

[00:03:52] I am Diné, Omaha and Pawnee and I grew up on the Diné nation which is in the Southwest as a Turtle Island otherwise known as the United States. And I as an Indigenous person have a very deep connection into my culture and to my land and to my community where it is or to a lot of people that join roller derby because when you join roller derby you also become family with women that women and non binary folks who you practice with you know three to four times a week or more if you’re on a very competitive team. And because they’re ending all of this time together and putting all his energy into sports together you become a family. And so it felt very natural to me. It’s very similar to how Indigenous people within the world’s.

[00:04:50] It certainly seems.

[00:04:52] So it suddenly seems to be an extension of that and I’m curious as to the kind of sports you had growing up then you went back home when you were a child. What are sport sports where you were exposed to the mic.

[00:05:07] Oh sure.

[00:05:07] So on growing up I ran. There was there’s a very big running culture that’s a traditional thing. It’s rough morning.

[00:05:24] Every morning a form of prayer where I’m an indigenous cultures I’ll use running as a form much occasion and so you run the next school to the next you know several villages away to relay information. So running has always been a big part of my life. When I was growing up softball basketball and volleyball I mean I played every sport that I could. And I started skating when I was about six. There’s not a lot of concrete. What you up it’s mostly dirt roads and desert but I got a pair of roller skates when I was for my sixth birthday and just loved it so I could find a way visually to law out of a school that kind of thing would just. And I use roller skate school or when I was at school and every Saturday be a ring and just anywhere I could I was constantly skating. But that wasn’t a sport and it wasn’t anything that became an Korten in my life until I was about 28.

[00:06:34] And then what happened. What was it that connected you to the life you now have.

[00:06:41] I was working at a nonprofit based out of Portland Oregon. And we see an ember of tickets to watch derby out of the Rose roller. And my manager was like Mick you have no what you need to hear the level of tickets. Go watch roller derby tonight. And I. OK. Take it. And so I watched a about and immediately was drawn it. It’s so much fun to watch. Atmosphere was really exciting and electric rustlers have big fat and bass. I think there were them. There was like 4000 fans watching a light show you know a big drum group coming in the beginning in and kind of intros the scary I’ll come out and and then it was just too fierce game for you know the next three and a half hours and I just was completely ruptured. I loved it. I thought this is Matt. I get absolute play this sport. I know how to roller skate. I like to play text. I didn’t have a lot of experience playing contacts growing one. Wow. To play football and and I like with my brother. So I just thought I want to play. And I did. I signed up to now. I made the training which is for me and they teach you how to how to play roller derby. They teach you the rule. So you had a hit it appropriately and how to be sayings have all safely and you just kind of get taken in by this you know group. I’m using women.

[00:08:38] It is a very very physical sport isn’t it. Does it help to have a certain size and stature in the game or you do you find women of all sizes and shapes. I’m pretty lightweight, I can imagine I could pretty much be knocked about all over the place.

[00:08:54] Yes it’s everybody’s hype can play roller derby and that’s really wonder about it and that’s where the initial things that people are. That’s like oh I’m really. Well can I play the sport or I’m really more or I’m really being. You know I get in a fight. And so for me when I joined I was I’m the big body am I going to be a will to excel in this. Absolutely. Then you can resize as roller skating roller skating once learn how to skate.

[00:09:30] If we can teach you how to use your body for the size that you are and to your benefit it’s a lot of courage. And you know a lot of people in Germany bigger bodies in your body can hold a little bit more ground and when you’re really getting so it’s just all all kinds of body play water which is really a about it. I think it attracts so many people to try it out.

[00:10:01] Now one of the other characteristics of the sport to make is the names you all have to have a unique game name really. And you’ve got Mick swagger of course after your nickname of Mick but your real name is of course Melissa Waggoner. And some of the others are just think are lovely “The Fighting Mongoose, Squarrior”, “Bashful”, Blackrock Bruiser”, “Windigo’, on they go and we hear some wonderful names. Why do you have to have a nickname for roller derby tell us that.

[00:10:34] Well one roller derby first started it was really I think a little bit more fun. The rules were a little bit looser. It was more theatrical. And I think that people like having kind of like an alter ego when they played roller derby.

[00:10:54] And as the sport has evolved we’ve kept some of the fun theatrical parts as it’s become much more athletic and serious. So we still have that element of roller derby which is really great. So you have a derby name which is what we call it. And after you train with your lead in learn the sport you get to choose your derby name and that’s a lot of fun helping people find one or coming up with your own and then you skate under that name and some people choose not to.

[00:11:25] At the World Cup some people skated under their family names but I still skate under Mick swagger. I’ve been skating under Feiger for 10 years and Mick has been my name since I was born so it just kind of works.

[00:11:41] It’s like having a showbiz name. I guess and I’m the love that you have come from with the team indigenous we’re going to talk about it now you’ve got a group of women from all kinds of backgrounds make astronomer’s lawyers postal workers you know heavy machine operators it’s a whole range.

[00:11:59] I mean you know people come from all walks of life to this sport. It’s quite interesting because you know you hear you know the make up of different teams for different sports and they can be very varied. But the unique thing of course about your group women here is the indigenized nature of it you’re all from indigenous nations as well. So

[00:12:24] tell us a little bit about the foundation of the team and why you felt it was important to establish a team of just women from indigenous nations.

[00:12:33] Yeah absolutely.

[00:12:35] So I skated with Team USA in the previous World Cup in 2014 and you know at that point in my Derby career I was on the top team in the world on got some girls roller derby and we had won the hijrah a couple of times they had what.

[00:12:56] You know I joined them after their winning streak and the next step my next bit of athletic goals was to pursue winning the World Cup with with the nation team and I tried out for Team USA and made that team I was so honored and I learned so much and you know I got to play with the top 20 athletes in the States which was a wonderful experience and I went to the World Cup and I spent so much time watching all of the other teams play against each other from mostly from South America and Europe. You know there was a team from South Africa. There was too much Treglia. There was a team from our team at all. And I just loved it really struck something in me. You know I like I talk about a lot in my life is that I am from an Indian nation and it’s always been a part of me and I’ve always served my community and worked within my community. And when I went to the World Cup I really wanted to represent that part of my heritage but it wasn’t the most appropriate place to do so.

[00:14:11] You know I was discouraged from bringing my nation’s flag which is the Delenn nation and it wasn’t you know like they weren’t trying to shame me but it was more like let’s all be you know red white and blue and I just don’t have connection to that you know to be honest I’ve never had connection to the flag I’ve never been a patriotic quote unquote person I’ve never stood for the national anthem I’ve always been very disconnected to what that feeling is. And so when I went to the World Cup I just thought oh I just want to be here with people that I that are from my nation and how amazing would it be to have other indigenous women by my side as we as we played at the world stage together at a World Cup. And you know I expressed that with a couple of friends that desire and after the World Cup is actually when I started travelling more internationally with roller derby and was had a lot of amazing opportunity to coach around the world and as I coached around the world I met other indigenous women and nonbinary folks from other countries and we talked about it more like wouldn’t it be great to have a team indigenous Oh yeah that’s you know what an interesting idea.

[00:15:23] And we kept talking and over the years I kept getting emails and you know I have a coaching page and people would message my coaching page and tell me their stories about being the only Indigenous person on their team and that SOS really isolating and they it makes them feel you know so much pride when they see the play at this national level on this international level that they kind of look at. Look to me as someone that you know they look up to and I just thought Well Piers we can come together and do that you know and play together. And they don’t have to you know think I’m the only one and I think you know just with all of these stories and all of these conversations I had I just knew that the next World Cup I wanted to come with a team indigenous. So we did. I’d gathered some friends. We created the mission statement. And we put the call out to the Indigenous community. We had 60 people try out. They submitted video so we had to watch a lot of footage. We had interviews with folks we had lots of Skype calls and conversations and in the end we chose 20 people to represent the indigenous nations of the world more global. We’re not located in any one country because it was really important for us to convey the idea that indigenous people we don’t assert borders with our neighbours we share an exchange and grow together and so we really wanted to model that on the team we wanted to model that idea of you know traditional values are that we are borderless nations and we are also led by indigenous leadership.

[00:17:13] So there is no one person that is in charge of the team we’re all in charge of the team and we all make decisions together. It’s not left to one person. So

[00:17:24] it’s very different and it’s very special for us and to be able to be accepted into our community you know the roader community we’re like absolutely team indigenous sounds amazing we will be happy to have you what can we do to help make this happen. And we just said you know we just want to we want to compete. So we did it well.

[00:17:44] I was going to ask you about you know the national governing body of the sport the women’s track association that is the recognized governing body of the sport isn’t it. How do you become a recognised team for that. What does it.

[00:17:59] What does it require Mick well for the women’s flat tractor association it’s actually a separate organization.

[00:18:07] Then the Ben going to the World Cup. So the women’s track Derby association is made up of teams all over the world. And the national teams are separate but in order to become part of welfare you have a team and you apply and they give you a set of requirements so you have to you know watch a lot of training videos and you set up your own non-profit and they really teach you how to run a business and you have a lot of resources at your disposal because the you know the WFTDA is 16 years old and there are hundreds of leagues around the world so everybody is on a forum together learning about how to run a business and how to coach sports and how to you know create a board and all of these different amazing life skills and skills that you can use within your worklife. So I think going through the steps of all those is pretty big but that’s kind of the idea is you know you’re learning how to run a business together.

[00:19:15] Right exactly. Well you’ve got so certainly you know women from all kinds of backgrounds who are coming together to them to all of you the actual cultural heritage that you’re bringing with you is just as important.

[00:19:30] Give us a sense of the kind of culture that is now created and why you feel that this is almost a political movement in a way it’s a statement that you’re making by having a team that is of just of indigent patients. Yeah.

[00:19:47] That’s a good question. Like many sports that require a lot of money to start playing them the access and opportunity to play roller derby is pretty limited for people of color and for remote communities.

[00:20:06] Thus the WFTDA and most of the people that play roller derby are white people.

[00:20:15] And you know when you are an indigenous person in the world you’re already in a very small minority and you’re used to being in a small minority and now you’re playing sports and is a minority. And it it just it becomes this this part of your life that you’re like how do we create space for more Indigenous people to join this sport. When a startup costs are so high and when you know you don’t see a lot of people reflected back at you you don’t see yourself reflected back within your community. So one of the things of bringing team indigenous together was because all of us had some experiences of you know micro aggressions and racism and you know Abel ism and homophobia. There’s all these kinds of things that happen in the world but they were also happening as a minority when they happened to you. You don’t have a lot of people to talk to about it. If you’re the only minority on your team if you’re the only Indigenous person on your team so coming together as we started to meet on Skype because we didn’t actually physically get to meet in person until we were you know a few days before the World Cup as we came together there was a lot of healing that was happening we were talking about our experiences and a lot of times you know just talking about your experience and having someone that understands it without having to ask questions or or second guessing you or gaslighting you. You just feel free. It just becomes this place of understanding and.

[00:21:52] And you can lift each other up through that. And this is how I dealt with that experience and this is how I’ve you know helped dispel some micro aggressions that are happening in my league and this is the language that I introduced to my team. And so all of those things were really like helping each other navigate you know navigate life in. We all give so much of our time and our you know emotional and mental energy to this sport that to have other people that understood you and helped you navigate it in a way that felt really positive and felt like there were solutions to problems you know really helped. And something that we talked about a lot was this indigenous philosophy of Nation community clan self. So when you are creating something in the world you don’t start at you know what you want as a will you think about outside of you know you’re the last kind of thing that you think about. I guess so you would think about your nation. How is this going to benefit my nation. How will this benefit my community. How will this benefit my clan. Because when you can when you can think about those things that are higher bigger than us as an individual they’re going to benefit you. And so as we were creating the team and talking about it we’re like there’s a lot of healing going on here.

[00:23:34] So how can we also benefit our nation our communities our clans and one of those things that we wanted to do was to make sure that people knew about this epidemic that was happening that is happening in the U.S. and Canada which is the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and many of us live in the areas where indigenous women go missing all the time where indigenous women are found murdered all the time and these crimes are not investigated by our governments. These crimes are not even quantified by our governments they don’t put them in a in a set of data to study. These are things that are our governments don’t care about that’s happening and it’s a direct result of the extraction industry and we know this because we live there and we live it and we grew up with it. And it’s scary and we really thought you know if we can come together as indigenous people and all the support that we’re getting so wonderful but we need to focus that at something that’s happening in our community. So every bit of money that gets donated to us all of them Mirch that we sell when we have a lot of plans to take it further and we’re able to raise money we donate a portion of that to missing and murdered indigenous women USA who are partnered with the moment and they see these different organisations support families that are going through the process of looking for their missing family members that need to pay for funeral costs. You know just the things that come along with trying to find somebody that is missing or has been found murdered and so we’re just really trying to highlight that academic and support it in any way that we can while playing the sport of roller derby.

[00:25:48] This is a wonderful opportunity for you obviously it’s providing a vehicle for change and we know that sports an extension of society anyway and I think it’s wonderful that you were able able to embrace this and you have that sense of you know cohesion between yourselves a sense of identity and belonging that you wouldn’t have elsewhere and also to combat the marginalisation that you clearly are subjected to and the vulnerabilities you explained. I mean that was a case in point. The marginalisation of indigenous nations as well but I’m curious because of the several components to this them make which which I think is really enlightening and really a wonderful opportunity for you guys within sport using that sport as a vehicle for change and with your identity of course you probably as a group you know you’re learning the language of other nations. I don’t know that is something that you get an opportunity neutral in your native tongue and give us a sense of of how that feels and the opportunity gives you to embrace the other nations and their languages and the differences between countries of course to yeah for sure.

[00:27:06] It’s been really amazing when we first met. We all introduced ourselves in our various traditional ways that you would but you would do so and if we spoke the language we used our language and if we didn’t use our language and we didn’t know our language that was OK we introduced ourselves and talking about where we were from where families are from.

[00:27:31] You know what our what our heritage is and how we’re connected to community. We do have some yeah we have people from all over the world. So it was really amazing to hear the variety of language and tribes. I think we represent. I think it’s at 28 different tribes and three different tribes myself there’s a couple of people that are you know two and then lots of different people that come from one tribe. So we represent a lot of different nations and we have been also teaching each other about those. But there’s a lot of commonality that we don’t have to teach each other.

[00:28:15] You know we all smudge and witches to burn sage and to you know that was described in the New York Times article where you put it over your body of your hand over your heart and you pray together and that that was something that we did at the World Cup and other indigenous other Indigenous players from other teams actually came and joined us a few times. So we had you know a few members of Team Mexico. Some were like We want to know we won us lunch with you and so we really brought that sense of who we are as indigenous people to the World Cup not just for ourselves but for the other Indigenous players on other World Cup teams and that was really special.

[00:28:56] But yeah there’s a lot of learning which is exciting because you know all of the all of the things that were exposed to all the time our Western history and Western culture and European culture and all these different things and science and pop culture and all you know it’s all mostly nonindigenous information that’s constantly pumped at us 24/7 and so it was just so wonderful to learn about each other’s heritage and where we’re from we also did a Skype meeting where we just kind of introduced each other to where we were from and what the land looks like and why it’s special and we shared pictures with each other. So there was there was a lot of cultural learning that went on as well.

[00:29:46] This is a wonderful opportunity. I can see why you were all embracing the opportunity in itself.

[00:29:53] And I think we can also learn from indigenous people too because you know that you have obviously these traditions and you have language and you have what I read and I wasn’t aware of it until I read it in the New York Times. You have what you call a true spirited person an umbrella term that refers to Native American people who don’t fit within the traditional gender boundaries of Momal female talk a little bit about that because that in today’s society is the language now we are adapting we are we are learning to use that language in the wider world.

[00:30:32] Right. Yeah. Two spirit is a modern word. It’s kind of a pan Indian term I guess we would call it like a pan indigenous term where essentially most of our tribes lived outside the gender binary. My tribe in fact has five genders and some tribes have seven. So there’s there’s a huge spectrum. Gender is on a spectrum and as an indigenous person from Turtle Island the term two spirit is really been something that’s been reclaimed and talked about because we are colonized are the sacredness of our you know gender diversity has been taken away from us through Christianity. And so where a lot of a lot of us folks myself included are reclaiming that part of our heritage and we’re decolonising ourselves and and really talking about you know traditionally to spirit people are sacred and traditionally to spirit people are healers and nation builders and people that help each other mediate and help community mediate situations and so really taking back that term and reminding ourselves and our people and our you know our nation our community our clans our families that to that people are are here and are important in our societies.

[00:32:08] Can you just a little bit more for us. MC When you said that you know in some nations the five or even seven genders relate back to what we understand in the wider world.

[00:32:20] What does that mean. I suppose some of those terms that Western culture is trying is talking about now might be like trans male trans female cis gendered male cis cis gendered female nonbinary person intersex person. So those are probably be what people might know as terms that are Western in the western vocabulary.

[00:32:56] Yeah yeah yeah. Because too much but I wanted to hear it in your words where you’re coming from.

[00:33:02] And of course this is probably being amongst yourselves in this environment is probably an opportunity to learn a bit more about your own heritage too. Have you learnt anything more by being with women and having these conversations.

[00:33:16] Oh absolutely. I think definitely learning more about other tribes and other nations the way that they view the world is is really affirming.

[00:33:33] You know I know a lot about my culture because I grew up in my homelands which is really fortunate and and not everybody did and not everybody did on our team. Some people were you know grew up outside of their homelands which you know when you disconnect when you’re an Indigenous person is disconnected from our geography it’s really hard to connect to our stories because they are from our land and you know walking on my land. I understand the stories because I can see the rock formation that’s within the story. So there’s a lot that’s connected to where you grew up and fortunately I grew up on my lands and I think it’s been really wonderful to be able to relay that information to other Donaire women that didn’t grow up on islands. One of our members jumping again he should grow up in Maine and so we’ve been able to connect even more because you know I know how to introduce myself traditionally she is learning how to introduce herself traditionally so that sharing of information feels really wonderful because that means that I am helping teach somebody but then also you gain a deeper sense of who you are by sharing that information with someone from where you’re from. Yeah so it does feel really wonderful and I’ve definitely learned more about myself and about where I come from by sharing.

[00:35:06] I’ve just digress sic him because as a whole people when I’m I’m curious did you grow up riding horses.

[00:35:14] I did. I got my first horse when I was about nine months. There’s a picture of me on a wonderful bra and probably always rode bareback.

[00:35:25] Oh no not me. No absolutely not.

[00:35:28] No…my…no!

[00:35:33] OK so you’re in a horsewoman as well.

[00:35:36] Oh yeah love I love horses I love animals very much. An animal lover.

[00:35:42] Good for you. OK well we’re going to move on to talk quickly about the World Cup because you took your team the team indigenous. You. I’ll say this very fast. You did get beaten by Italy Denmark and the Netherlands. But you know these semis your teams. It was your first appearance at a World Cup as a team. Were you intimidated. What did you bring the wealth of experience you had obviously playing with Team USA to a World Cup before that kind of give you the confidence and give the rest of the team confidence we can do this. You know did you have that kind of attitude that we were as good as any of these and we could do it.

[00:36:21] Yeah I mean we didn’t know who we were going to play until you know about a month before. So we didn’t really have any idea about where we might fall within a spectrum of 38 teams especially because we hadn’t. Most of us had never met and we are first practice was two days before the World Cup and then we had another practice the day before the World Cup and we were the inaugural game so we had a practice you know for two days and we were the very first game of the tournament which means for as a coach. I also coached at the World Cup for a team. At Iowa. I wasn’t able to scout any of the teams which I usually do have a lot of information about you know these are the players to look out for. This is the strategy that they use. This is what we might expect. And you know for us we knew that going in that we were learning to play with each other so we weren’t stressed about winning. We were there for the experience who were there for representation. We were there to meet each other and to share our message. So the sport aspect of it was for me it was low on the priority list.

[00:37:43] But we gained so much knowledge and there’s a lot of there’s a lot of women that were from remote communities so they didn’t. They’ve never even had this kind of experience. So for them to come to the World Cup and to learn and to grow within you know our four days was incredible for them and I could see people really learning as they were going through the games and lining up and getting excited. And there were people that were playing different positions like normally blocking position is safe because there’s four of you and it feels like OK I can do this. But as a jammer you’re kind of by yourself and you’re responsible for the points and you know to be honest when jumping and I watch the videos and built the team.

[00:38:29] We didn’t even think about positions. We just we chose people based on you know athletic ability and a. And also there are amazing stories. I just thought you know this person hits like a truck and she’s so incredible.

[00:38:44] And her story just like brought tears to my eyes and this person looks like really fast. And you know she has incredible stories as well. So we kind of just built the team and then thought oh I don’t think we’d have jam and point scores and I because I have experience I was like well I can do that if needed.

[00:39:07] I don’t have a problem. I really enjoy jamming but I’m known as a blocker. So we didn’t you know we didn’t go into the games too stressed about it. We just kind of built what our positions were at our practices and then halfway through the tournament people were like actually going to try jamming or I want to try blocking and so and our last game vs Denmark it was actually we were leading in the first half and at halftime I think we were there was maybe like 10 points difference or something. It was like maybe less than that. It was a really tight game up until half time. And that was the game where all rules went out the window. I stepped down and didn’t play.

[00:39:47] I bench coached and I just said all right who wants to block and who wants to jam and that’s how we went out every two minutes it was just whoever wanted to do that position played that position. And there was something about that I think that shifted for us because people played better than they had the whole weekend.

[00:40:07] And I think it was that they felt empowered. They were having fun. There was no pressure. And we were winning which was amazing and it felt really good.

[00:40:17] And and you know I think that as an individual I you know I’ve been coaching for long enough to know like when I need it and when I’m not as a player and I knew that I wasn’t needed in that game and I knew that I could contribute the best on the bench and giving encouragement and positive feedback off the track. And yeah it was it was such a good time. I was really proud of the team really proud.

[00:40:48] It sounds like it you instill confidence in them and empowered them so all together successful regardless of the match results themselves. And of course there’s that real emotion as well being in Manchester in the north of England unlike anything else in Europe. No doubt it was the food as well that you were taken with right now.

[00:41:09] Yeah well we kind of had some jokes over the weekend because you know we didn’t get to play any other indigenous teams. We were like we’re playing all of our colonizers like Italy was our first game. Denmark and Netherlands. But you know it hadn’t it was such a good time.

[00:41:31] And I know a lot of skaters from all of those teams I coached several people from Team Denmark three months previous I’ve coached a couple people from Amsterdam and they were part of the Netherlands team and I coached a few people from Team Italy three months previous so you know when you get out there and play you just feel like you have this sense of sisterhood on your team. But then also against your opponent because yeah you all care about the sport and it’s fun and you know we’ve been they all practiced every month for the last year. And so they were they were pretty serious about it. But afterwards that was just. Yeah lots of tears and hugs and excitement.

[00:42:21] And your influence has spread far and wide and we should mention as you stated earlier about team actually not here.

[00:42:33] Yeah you’re out there that are out here. You got it right. OK. Team out Derby which is the national team of New Zealand.

[00:42:41] How did you get the job and how how much commitment do you have in terms of time because you were coaching elsewhere as we know you you’re currently in Europe. How does that fit into everything else.

[00:42:53] Yeah I’ve well I’ve been living in Melbourne, Australia for the past two and a half three years and I’ve been to Altiero several times to coach roller derby just on small trips. You know I went once in 2012 for a month and travelled and coached and another time in 2015 to coach for about six weeks and I met a lot of people there and stayed in touch and when they were forming their team their executive committee reached out to me because I was you know in Melbourne and asked if I would coach their national team. And you know it took a lot of consideration. I wasn’t quite sure like how is this going to work.

[00:43:42] You know Auckland is only a three hour flight from Melbourne so as far as time once a month flying to Altiero staying for a weekend or a week you fly I usually coach around the dates that I was around the time that I was coaching the national team.

[00:44:04] I would then go to either hold a big boot camp for the local community or travel a little bit for the week in coach local teams to make it work for myself for work purposes and then also you know to coach the national team. So yeah I made it work and I went to Altiero every month for about eight months and yeah I had a great time.

[00:44:29] I love that team they were amazing. We placed team Altiero place 10th at the World Cup and now you’re in Europe coaching so your coaching is a freelance.

[00:44:39] Are you travelling the world literally. Yeah yeah yeah okay pretty nice lifestyle and cool. Melbourne is an awful long way from the Grand Canyon. Why did you decide to swim.

[00:44:52] Well I went there for work and 2015 and loved it. I made a really great group of friends and I actually that’s where I met my wife. So I met her and decided to go back and maybe see if there was a budding relationship let’s see if this can go somewhere and it did. So I ended up staying for two and a half years.

[00:45:21] Well there we are and where we are today and now we’re going back to two team Indigenous language that funded you were able to make any money at all.

[00:45:31] You mentioned that you sold merchandise of course but give us a sense of you know if people can get involved with this if there’s anyone listening that’s interested in this how do they participate follow you and all the rest of it.

[00:45:44] MC Yeah so you can follow us on social media. We are on Facebook. Team indigenous roller derby. The same for insta the same for Twitter.

[00:45:55] Like our page. Read our articles if you are an indigenous person that is interested in roller derby or plays roller derby please message us and join us. We are going to be expanding the team to every continent. Our dream is to have you know a team indigenous team on every continent and then come together and play against each other. And then maybe send the top 20 of those seven teams to the next World Cup. So we have we have some big plans coming up. You can also donate to esset via PayPal at Team indigenous roller derby at gmail dot com.

[00:46:34] You can buy our Mirch. We have some really great t shirts with logos.

[00:46:39] Those are will be on sale for the next month and but we don’t make money we actually we end up donating any proceeds that we make to missing and murdered indigenous USA. So where were self funded athletes.

[00:46:55] And yeah that’s about it that’s that’s us in a nutshell right. All right well we’ll put two of links in the show notes accompanying this episode so people can find you easily. I have no idea.

[00:47:08] Well you know that was we talked about the culture of roller derby. And not just tickles the Indigenous team. But generally speaking there is that culture. There’s the there’s the name that you have to have those that very often women are tattooed and proudly carry tattoos.

[00:47:26] I’m wondering if your team has its own unique tattoo yet.

[00:47:31] Actually we do.

[00:47:32] One of our members of Team indigenous she is from Aotearoa her her cousin is a master carver of green Greenstone and he designed a he carved and drew a design for us that is the embodiment of an eagle and a fishhook. And with that she… Her derby name is “Fucking Tough” and that is Chrissy and Phillips and she has that tattooed on her already and several of the team members have been talking about getting that as well.

[00:48:11] So we do have her own special tattoo. Wonderful.

[00:48:15] All right well we got to follow what you what you do I hope you’ll stay in touch because this is a wonderful story and it really is very important what you are doing and how you are giving back to your community as well and in the mean what.

[00:48:28] Well I’m going to work on my own name.

[00:48:31] Maybe you can help me with that. Okay that sounds great. Thanks so much for having me.

[00:48:38] You’re very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to come on the program it’s been great to talk to you and the very best of luck with the team and of course with your coaching and the rest of your role it be Korea.

[00:48:48] Thanks so much.

[00:48:50] And you could find a link to Team indigenous social media on our Web site.

[00:48:55] The show notes that accompany this episode just go to and look for athlete profile under the listen tab. And while you’re on the website to take a look around at all the other wonderful coverage we have here on women’s sports as the world’s largest podcast’s network for women’s sports that’s one of the articles blogs and videos. You can also join in the conversation by emailing us at as well as on social media channels. Just look for WiSP Sports and if you have a moment when you are next on iTunes do leave us a five star review. It does make a great deal of difference to rankings because you can find us on any podcast player. We really do appreciate your listening because we know you have many choices when it comes to podcasts these days. And there are so many amazing stories of women in sport. So thank you for listening and supporting women in sport everywhere.









Photo: Tom Malko Photography
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