By day she’s an IT consultant who goes by another name. By night she is Commander Nix, a jammer on the Rockits, one of four teams that make up the Minnesota Roller Girls.
These founding members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association are celebrating MNRG’s 10th season Saturday with a championship bout at St. Paul’s Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The Atomic Bombshells take on the Garda Belts in the big game, with the Dagger Dolls bruising it out with Nix’s Rockits for third place. Tickets are available at MNRollerGirls.com, where a photo shows a packed auditorium.
They are grown women who enjoy falling down. Seems jarring until you think about the NFL. When you see Commander Nix talking in my startribune.com/video, you realize getting hurt is embraced as part of the bout.
Q: What in the world makes you wake up and decide this is what you’ll do for fun?
A: [Laughter] I’d say, Why not? It’s the most action I’ve ever been in. I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I saw “Roller Derby” in three different cities — Chicago, Kansas City and then in Minnesota — and I was hooked; had to do it myself.
Q: It’s not exactly ice dancing?
A: Not exactly, but close.
Q: Yeah, there’s a skating skill known as the “Dance Step”?
A: We do a lot, we call them transitions. Front-toe-back or inside-outside are my favorite, when you spread-eagle around someone. It’s kind of like dancing.
Q: Are you all trying to hurt each other?
A: It’s like sibling love. You’re never really trying to hurt your siblings when you are arguing and wrestling with them but you want to win.
Q: So injuring somebody is just a fringe benefit?
A: Yeah. It happens. We normally high-five. Shiva Shank’n claims I broke her collarbone once when she was giving me a high five after the game for the hit. It’s all love.
Q: What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
A: If you check out this knee brace down here, I blew out my ACL and MCL. My knee buckled, I fell down, I got a penalty because somebody tripped over me. Got sent to the penalty box. As I’m skating to the penalty box with my knee not really attached anymore, I sat down and thought, ‘This can’t be good.’ I got released from the penalty box, skated for about 30 more seconds and then realized I didn’t have ligaments in my knee. Two surgeries later, I’m back.
Q: And still fearless?
A: Still fearless. Look at the brace.
Q: What were your sports before this?
A: Soccer player and also a pole vaulter. Maybe that’s where I lost a little fear.
Q: Are there any famous athletes you’d like to get on the track?
A: I channel Adrian Peterson. I’m a jammer and I try to visualize him going through the pack all speedy fast. Adrian: If you see this someday, give me a call. You’re my hero!
Q: You know, under a pile of NFL players there’s pinching, there’s grabbing. Are those antics replicated on the flat track?
A: I guess sometimes there’s pinching trying to shuffle through. If you are on the ground, you try to get up as fast as you can. Luckily, there’s no eye-gouging, which I hear happens in those [NFL] scrums.
Q: Does the trash talking on the track follow you off the track?
A: Do you count the locker room? Then yes. And the warm-up track? Yes.
Q: Do you have better bouts when you’re in the throes of PMS?
A: [Laughter] Hard to say. It’s a question you don’t ask.
Q: It’s a Saturday night when there’s no bout. Are you putting on a little black dress and some heels?
A: Every girl’s got to have a little black dress, right? Heels not so much. Maybe I’m rockin’ some boots.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz.”