Grand Raggidy Blog
The Grand Raggidy Roller Girls are roaring into spring with a double header against the Chicago Outfit on March 22, 2014. Starting off their 3rd home game of the year, the Grand Raggidy Roller Girl's Attack will be taking on the Chicago Outfit's Shade Brigade. Eager to add a win to their tally after last month's game against South Bend, the Attack will be starting this evening's excitement out with plenty of derby action.
The headline game matches up the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls All Star team against the Chicago Outfit's Syndicate. Both teams are currently ranked in WFTDA's Division 2, but the All Stars are looking to advance in the rankings as they take a swing at the higher ranked Syndicate. This game will be bursting with advanced strategy and arresting energy from both teams and you'll find it hard to stay in your seat as they battle it out for national rankings.
The doors at Rivertown open at 5:00 PM, and you won't want to miss a thing on the track, so be sure to come early for a good seat. Tickets are $12 in advance from your favorite derby girl, brownpapertickets.com, or at Bartertown Diner , Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $15.
The Bomb Squad has the eye of the tiger and they are ready to let it roar! This month they are helping raise funds for Carol’s Ferals. Make a donation of dry or canned cat food and be entered to win a prize courtesy of those wild Bomb Squaders! The halftime entertainment will be provided by Acme Black Tigers.
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Rivertown Sports, 2605 Sanford Ave SW, Grandville, MI
Congratulations to February’s Most Valuable Member, All Stars Coach Lil Haha!
Lil Haha has been with Grand Raggidy since the league’s inception. She skated with GRRG and captained the team back when they were known as the Blue Collar Broads. After she stopped skating, Lil Haha remained an avid derby fan, attending games and volunteering.
At the beginning of 2014, she officially took over the post of All Stars Coach and began working with the skaters to foster better league communication and teamwork, both on and off the floor.
On one cold February night, I sat down with Lil Haha to talk about her skating career and coaching style. It was past ten o’clock. Lil Haha just finished running a three hour practice at Kentwood Fun Spot, but she said she was game to do the interview anyway. She was wearing a maroon sweatshirt and had her hair pulled back in a ponytail. We sat across from each other at a plastic picnic table near the arcade games. By time I got my recorder working, most of the skaters were already finished packing up their gear and were streaming out the side door. The building was half-empty. I had forgotten all of my notes at home, so I started with the basics.
Giddy Up Anya: So can you tell me a little bit about yourself? I’m new to the league and don’t really know anything about you. Maybe we can start with your name? That would be great.
Lil Haha: My skate name? Lil Haha. And my real name is Beth. What else can I tell you? I’m single. No children. I typically have a whole slew of dogs, but I’m currently down to one dog and one cat.
American Pit Bull is my favorite.
They can get a bad rap.
They do, but they shouldn’t because they’re amazing. I’ve done some rescue with them too, in the past. Been a foster mom for little pit bull puppies. But yeah, I’ve had pits for almost 20 years, probably. And I love them. They’re like roller girls [laughs].
What do you mean by that?
They’re smart. They’re tenacious.
Do you give your dogs roller derby names?
My cat has a roller derby name. Her name is Constance Danger because she was constantly in danger of one of my dogs when I brought her home. [The dogs] were like, “Why’s there a chipmunk in our house?” And I was like, “It’s actually a kitten. Don’t eat her.”
But she survived?
Yes. She’s got a little roller girl in her too. So, yes, she got a skate name.
So how long have you been coaching?
Officially? A couple of months. Unofficially, about a year. And I used to skate with Grand Raggidy. I started when the league started. Learned how to skate here, and I think I was in it three or four years.
Jackie Daniels and I were the captains of the Blue Collar Broads. Back in the day there were the Blue Collar Boards [and] the Roustabout Rollers. Those were the first two teams. Then we added the Everyday Rebels.
Oh, I did not know that.
It’s true. And then we had the travel team, and we started to play other cities. Then there was a shift in the league and there were also some shifts in my life. That’s when I got out [of derby].
So what brought you back in?
Oh, I don’t know if I’ve ever really been gone. I always go to all the games. Mira was bench coaching, but she was about to have a baby. So they asked if I could step in, so here I am.
How has roller derby changed since you started?
The game has advanced, incredibly. There’s a lot more strategy and game play. Whereas, our team used to be made up of – well, the winning teams were the ones with really good skaters. Now, the winning teams are the smart teams with good skaters. It’s about strategy and play and, you know, managing your opponent, and working together as a team. In the beginning I think we worked a lot on jamming and endurance. Not that we don’t still work on that, but now there’s a lot more with what happens in the pack, and working together to get each other through or stop the other team.
What’s your favorite drill to make the players do? I’ve been wondering about that because you kind of killed us tonight with the squats.
Not in an abusive way, but I want the skaters to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth from practice. So, if they’ve had a good workout and they felt like they were pushed, that’s a good thing. But I also look for drills that I can apply across all levels of skating. There are going to be times that you want something more focused… and other times you just want the whole group to really get a good workout. So it’s hard to narrow that down. I used to hate doing 4-2s, which is a sprinting drill, so I haven’t pushed that on the skaters a lot. [Laughs]
The squatting one is hard, though. Push ladders are hard. And I’ll talk with Donny [Wheels McGee, GRRG’s skating coach] about it, too, because he has the history with the speed skating, knowing what are good things to build endurance and skating, etcetera.
I remember you e-mailed the team a few weeks ago, and you sent this really nice e-mail about how we were all important and you really wanted us all to communicate.
I do. That’s really important to me. I see the league as a whole. I focus more with the All Stars because [Coach] Trashy works more with the Attack and Shell is working with the newer skaters, so as far as getting down and dirty with details with each team, that’s sort of where I land. But my heart is in the league as a whole, and we need that continuity of skaters. That’s very important to me. Everybody is valuable in the league, and I hope they feel that way.
Do you feel like communication is an important part of that?
Huge. Especially with a lot of volunteers, which is pretty much anyone in derby. People commit their time and energy to it, but there are no paid positions or that kind of thing. But, to know what’s going on, and to have it organized, it’s very easy for that to split up. One person says this. One person says that. So communication is important on the floor, it’s important in the league. I’m all about clarifying, but I get told I talk too much. I can get on a roll.
I was looking through pictures from the game this weekend, and all of the ones of you seem so serious.
I look intimidating [laughs].
That was a great game, though.
It was. I enjoyed that game.
It took me a little bit to get my sea legs – for lack of a better word – on the bench, as a bench coach, to understand what the skaters needed from me. And I feel like this year, just how we are getting started, I feel comfortable in that position. I feel like they’re comfortable with me. We don’t have a long history of having coaches in derby. And I think it’s a lot easier if there’s a go-to person.
I was scorekeeping during the game and sitting back by the benches. You and Trashy have really different bench coaching styles. She was yelling a lot, and you seem like you are more reserved. Like, you had a different strategy.
Well, we have different teams too. I think that Attack needs a little bit more direction on the floor. They’re newer. And I think they lean on her a little bit more. The All Stars are pretty much going to do what they’re going to do, sometimes regardless of what I say [laughs].
So what’s your goal as a bench coach then, if you have really self-directed skaters?
Teamwork. Teamwork and respect. Not just respect for me [laughs], I mean, I appreciate the respect for me, but the idea of having five individual skaters on the floor goes away. We have to have one team on the floor. That’s probably my primary goal, even for the league. Get rid of any conflict or whatever. Bring all this diversity together as one unit.
Is there anything that you want people to know, that you want to put out there, as the GRRG coach?
I just think that we have an amazing group of skaters. Not just their skating ability, but the people that I encounter here… I can’t get enough of it. Egos and alter egos, I’ll take them both.
Do you have an alter ego?
Well, everybody skating does. It’s really your alter ego on the floor, don’t you think? ‘Cause everybody goes out in their life and they’re… you know, whatever. But your alter ego gets to shine here.
So who is Lil Haha?
[Laughs] Well, that’s up to your interpretation, really. That’s even where my name originated from, all the way back to college. I was at a party with a friend of mine. Her mom was recently divorced, and her mom was going to go out, and the daughter was like, “Oh, what are you doing tonight, mom?” And the mom said, “ Oh, I’ll probably go out to the bar or something.” And the daughter said, “Oh you gonna go out and get a little haha?”
And this stuck in my head… because I happen to be the eighth Immaculate Conception in my family. I’m sure that my parents never did that sort of thing. We’re all pure as the driven snow [laughs]. But, um, it just kind of stuck, and so I could always use that term. Like, if my college roommates were TMI… I could say, “You got a little Haha?” And call it good. Keep the details to yourself. Whatever I believe that to be – we’ll just be settled on that. But I could use it with my nephew on his first date. I can say, “Oh, you get a lil haha?” And he probably only held hands with her, but that was lil haha for him. So it’s really based on your interpretation.
So everyone’s got a lil haha in them?
Everybody loves a lil haha. You know that’s true!