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From Skating to Coaching: U.S. Amee & Breckin U. Down

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U.S. Amee (left) and Breckin U. Down (right) prepare for a bout at the start of Cornfed’s 4th Season.

If you just discovered the Cornfed Derby Dames, you might not know that last year was the inaugural season for the Muncie Missfits, Cornfed’s B Team. The increasing number of active skaters in the league and the addition of a second team has brought the need for an expanded coaching staff specifically focused on training and nurturing the Missfits.

Two Cornfed veterans stepped up to the line this season to take on new roles as coaches for the Missfits.  U.S. Amee serves as the Missfits’ Co-Head Coach with Emily Daly and Breckin U. Down serves as the Bench Coach. This is the first time either Amee or Breckin have taken on a coaching role, but both have been integral parts of Cornfed for many years, making them great resources to the MissfitsGet to know Amee and Breckin just a bit more by reading about their history with the sport and their motivations and inspirations as newly appointed coaches.

U.S. Amee

How long have you been playing Derby? How did you get involved?

AMEE: I started Season 3, so this is my 5th season! I was introduced to derby by a friend who went to Naptown bouts. I went with her and fell in love! I finally got the nerve to play myself when I was asked by Leia Mout if I thought about playing! I was so nervous to go outside my comfort zone, but I had grown up at Gibson’s Skating rink and loved being on my skates, so I thought…why not?

BRECKIN: Since CFDD day 1. Spring 2010. One of the founders told me they were starting a team in Muncie. I had been watching Naptown for a couple years.

What motivated you to decide to try your hand at coaching?

AMEE: I want to share the knowledge I have with all the babies! If I can help mold a player in anyway, that is my way of giving back to the sport and to all the many people who have taught me this awesome sport! I want nothing more than for all the B babes to have the most confidence in themselves! They are all capable of amazing things!

BRECKIN: As a captain for the MissFits last year, I really enjoyed the energy of new skaters and helping teach them the rules and the skills. I saw Bench Coach this season as a way to further help them become the future of Cornfed.

Breckin U. Down

What do you see as the biggest challenge in coaching versus playing?

AMEE: Well, this season I am coaching the B team and playing on the A team all at once. I think this will be the biggest challenge. I want to improve myself and make a great contribution to the A team, but at the same time, I want to be able to give the Misfits 100%! They deserve nothing less!

BRECKIN: I think learning each skater’s strengths and weaknesses. Then to pair them with the best possible pack to provide what we need on the track at that time.

What are you looking forward to the most this season with CFDD?

AMEE: I am looking forward to so many things! I can’t wait to see how our rankings go up this season! We have set some goals that I can’t wait to see achieved! Also, I love watching people improve and get better, and push each other to the max!

BRECKIN: To see how high the All-Stars can get in our ranking. And to watch the MissFits find their rhythm and shine. There are a bunch of new faces. I can’t wait for the fans to see what they can do.

Where do you go to get inspiration to bring to CFDD players?

AMEE: I spend a lot of time watching higher-level teams–our idols! The more derby we all watch the more we can bring to the team!

BRECKIN: I go to practice. We are our best motivators and support system. We all want to be successful and we drive each other to it.

What’s your favorite quote?

AMEE: Sorry I have two. “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” -Francis Bellamy
“We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” -Ray Lewis

BRECKIN:Jobs fill your pockets, adventures fill your soul. No regrets.”

Anything else you’d like to share with CFDD Fans?

AMEE: Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the most awesome fans ever! ! ♡ from U.S. Amee

BRECKIN: The All-Stars are looking better than ever. The future All-Stars taking the track as MissFits are working hard to learn the ropes. You do not want to miss Lucky Season 7!

See these two in action as All-Stars skaters and Missfits coaches on Sunday, March 12 as Cornfed takes on Ann Arbor Roller Derby’s Arbor Bruising Co. and the Ypsilanti Vigilantes. Tickets are available online for $10 here, or $12 on game day at the door.

Featured Skater: Juke Skyblocker

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cfdd-9The Force is strong with this one, folks! When Juke Skyblocker first started skating, the Cornfed Derby Dames didn’t even have a home rink yet. “We were about 20 girls in booty shorts skating laps in a church sanctuary that really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.” She’s not kidding about the booty shorts. There are pictures. Through hard work, determination, and a little help from Ibuprofen, Juke stuck with it and became an all-star skater who is an invaluable asset to her team. Since the church days, Cornfed has propelled our way up through the rankings, and our motivation is still as strong as Day 1. “Six years later we’re a group of hardworking athletes who strategically plan out our seasons and games. We know what we need to do and we work our butts off for it. It’s amazing to see what we’ve achieved and it makes me feel like this tiny team from Muncie could really become something so much more.”

Like so many of us, for Juke, derby is more than just a hobby-it’s a lifestyle. “I love that it has given me somewhere to focus my energy. Before derby I was just a lost college student not sure of who I was or who I wanted to be. Derby has taught me responsibility, dedication, hard work, self-control, and has made me much healthier physically and mentally. I spend so many hours of my life focusing on derby that I’m not really sure who I would be without it in my life.” Juke works tirelessly at practices and is always the first one to remind the team that each belly-wrenching crunch, booty-burning squat and lung squashing suicide just help to make us stronger.

Someone as dedicated to derby as Juke probably never gets nervous for bouts, right? Wrong-o! Even seasoned skaters need to have a normal bout day routine, and try not to get psyched out. “I try to make bout days as much like normal days as possible. If I make a big deal out of it, I’ll freak out and get way too nervous. I eat healthy meals before the game and sometimes go for a short walk to keep my body moving. I like to get myself pumped up on the way to the game with some upbeat music. That’s really it though, I don’t want to even look at the other team or watch their warm up though because I will panic. I just focus on myself, my team, and the plan for the game.”

When she’s not on the track, Juke works at Cornerstone Center for the Arts, a non-profit arts center. “My job as the Education & Marketing Coordinator is to help plan, implement, and market our arts programs as well as our events and fundraisers.” When she’s not there, she is with her fiancée, Meagan, and- I’m not kitten you- their four cats. “We like to work out together, do home improvement projects, and enjoy outdoor activities when the weather is nice.”

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On April 3rd, Juke will be defending the Galactic Republic-er…I mean Cornfed- against Chicago Outfits Shade Brigade at Gibson Arena. Ewok yourself down to the rink at 3pm, start time is at 4. Tickets at the door are $10 per person or $8 in advance through Brown Paper Tickets or from any Cornfed Derby Dame. College students are just $5 with an ID and children ages 10 and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket (limit two children).

Come out and see the sport that is inspiring so many young women and empowering them to be strong, smart and tough. It has been life changing for Juke. “Socially it’s made me much more comfortable interacting with people I don’t know that well. It has shaped me into a leader and given me a stronger voice of reason that I use in my non-derby life as well. Physically it’s inspired me to lose 50 pounds, exercise daily, and watch what I eat. Becoming healthy has improved my derby abilities so much and has made me finally feel like a real athlete and not just a girl on skates. Being a part of the derby community also has inspired me to live my authentic life. I’m inspired daily by strong women who are smart and lift each other up and can’t imagine who I would be if my 21 year old self never pushed myself to do this.”

Basically, Juke is the droid you’re looking for.

Debbie Darko’s Journey

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On Monday, May 24, 2010 I hesitantly climbed the dark stairs of the Heorot to the 2nd floor, a shy and awkward recent graduate of Ball State, stepping way out of my comfort zone. I sat quietly in the corner, taking in the group of women seated around me. From all walks of life, they too had gathered that day to discuss one thing: roller derby.

My entire roller derby knowledge consisted of what I was able to glean the night before from a google search. I had seen a flier up at a bar a few days before, explaining that a Muncie roller derby team was forming and that no experience was required. I hadn’t skated in years, yet the idea was intriguing to me. I knew I needed to join something now that I had graduated, lest I become a hermit. Most of my friends had moved out of town and my shyness made it nearly impossible to make friends as an adult.

I have no idea what made me brave enough to walk up those dark steps that day, but I’m forever grateful I did. Joining roller derby has, hands down, been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

It hasn’t been an easy road. I was not a natural skater by any means. I envied my teammates who seemed to have been born with skates on, and I silently struggled with the simplest moves. Merely staying on my feet was a challenge at first and often my fear and anxiety made my heart pound in my throat.

Not being able to contribute to the team with my nonexistent skating skills, I tried to contribute in other ways. From the beginning I went to every single event I possibly could, promoting the team, spreading the word about derby and volunteering in the community with my teammates. Always an obsessive photographer, I started photographing the team when I could. This was not only a way to contribute, but it also was a bit of a security blanket for me. I was painfully shy, so I could hide behind my camera and still feel useful. I joined almost every committee on the team and worked to help keep our fledgling team going.

Slowly (very slowly), I improved. Even more slowly I began to become more comfortable around my teammates. The quiet one for years, I finally began to open up. These women, this amazingly diverse group of strong, independent, funny and caring women never once made me feel stupid for always being the slowest. They always encouraged me, even when I failed. In turn, I grew more confident, less fearful, and pushed my body past what I thought I could accomplish.

It took me three and a half years to finally pass all the minimum skills. In January 2014 I passed the dreaded 27/5 (27 laps in 5 minutes), with my team cheering me on the whole time. It would take me two more years of hard work, determination, drills and scrimmages (a year and a half of which I was an alternate and a season of struggling with a knee injury) but finally I’ve earned my first non-alternate roster spot at a CFDD bout. Not only will I gear up on Sunday, February 28th at 4pm as a fully rostered skater, but for the first time ever, we’ll be playing a doubleheader at home.

12736855_10153606882144865_1108518855_oI’m so honored to have the opportunity to play in the first ever Cornfed B team game. The fact that we now have a B team is amazing! We’ve always been a small team and have, at times, struggled with numbers. But our ranks have swelled, giving each and every skater so much more opportunity to learn and grow.

As one of the few remaining original members of the team, one who was there before we had a practice space, (when we had no idea what we were doing, but worked incredibly hard anyway) the swell in numbers fills my heart with such joy. It’s incredible, as someone who struggled for years to do the simplest things on skates, to help the next generation of Dames discover the love of this amazing sport. These women have become so much more than teammates and friends. They’re my family now. And in this supportive and welcoming environment, one that is accepting of all body types, all sexual orientations and all backgrounds, I have found the confidence to finally break out of my shell and the freedom to be myself.

12735969_10153606882189865_778805169_nIt’s been a long journey from that spring day in 2010 to now. One that I’m grateful for every day. There’s been a lot of sweat, tears, tweaked muscles, one unfortunate broken tailbone and bruises beyond count, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m proud to be a Dame, honored beyond words to be rostered at the first home bout of 2016, and excited to see what season 6 will bring.

Featured Skater – fOWL Play #H00T

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This week’s Featured Skater is fOWL Play #H00T!

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A new addition to CFDD this season, but no stranger to roller derby, fOWL Play brings new life to the jammer rotation. Hard-working, passionate, and positive are just a few words you might use to describe this truly valuable teammate. While a majority of her hard work on the track is dedicated to her jammer skills, she also aspires to be a better blocker. fOWL is always on the move outside in warmer months, mostly hiking. Admittedly, her winter workout involves a lot of lifting… the spoon full of chocolate ice cream to her mouth.

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You might wonder how one comes up with such a derby name – “I wanted something aggressive and different because there are so many fantastic names out there in the derby world. I was watching forensic files one night and they said “foul play” repeatedly throughout the show and it just clicked. Coming from a renegade roller derby league to a WFTDA league, I thought it was kind of fitting, also my heritage is Native American and my animal totem is an Owl, so there it is: fOWL Play!”

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When fOWL isn’t racking up the points on the track, this proud mom is hanging with her little man, working in accounting, camping, fishing, and enjoying the great outdoors. On bout day, she settles her nerves with the soothing sounds of the 90s!

Come see fOWL (and her mustache-tattooed index finger!) and the rest of the Dames on Sunday, March 29th as we take on the Circle City Socialites from Indianapolis! Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, at the door, or any Dame.

Featured Skater – USAmee

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This week’s featured skater is USAmee #9MM.

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Your first encounter with USAmee may be deceiving: She has an adorable smirk and a sort of twinkle in her eye. The daughter of an Army man, she’s extremely patriotic and her daddy is her hero. She’s a stay-at-home mama to two wonderful little guys who inherited all of her precious charm. Isn’t she just as sweet as pie? WRONG. Well, kind of. She is sweet, but not too sweet to terrorize you on the track. Facing her, you may catch one of those smirks just before you’re swept off your skates, right into the suicide seats, with one quick, outside booty swipe. Our RED, WHITE, and BLUE blocker is persistent, hard-working, and focused.

“I love being on a team with so many strong, amazing women, pushing myself harder every single time I put my skates on, and proving to myself that I CAN do this!”

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If you want to pump yourself up on bout day like Amee, try “The Angry American” (Toby Keith) and “You Shook Me All Night Long” (AC DC). Catch USAmee and the rest of the Dames at CFDD’s next home bout of Season 5 on Sunday, March 29th! Tickets will be available through Brown Paper Tickets, your favorite Dame, or at the door. Keep an eye out for more information!

Featured Skater – Bruisey Ricardo

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This week’s Featured Skater is Bruisey Ricardo #51.

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Small but quick and mighty, this little pistol loves donning the pivot stripe. She is a fully-committed blocker, always prepared to take the star. Don’t underestimate her or you’ll likely find yourself hypnotized by the power of her booty.

An original Dame, Bruisey spent her first two seasons of roller derby with CFDD, two seasons with Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby of Bloomington, IN, and is happy to be back in Muncie with CFDD for her fifth season. “I’m so grateful for my time with Bleeding Heartland and all the people there that helped me grow, but Cornfed is my home. I have more pride and team spirit than ever!”

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In her spare time, you can find her geeking out on Netflix, out gallivanting with Nuck L. Sammie, or finger painting with her 5-year old. On bout day, she prepares at home with a Subway sammie and 90’s pop dance party: No pants allowed.

Catch Bruisey Ricardo and the rest of the Dames at CFDD’s first home bout of Season 5 THIS WEEKEND: Sunday, February 22nd! Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, your favorite Dame, or at the door.

Featured Skater – B-Flattened

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This week’s Featured Skater is B-Flattened #13!

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B-Flattened, a clarinet player of eight years (see what she did there?), is one of CFDD’s veteran blockers. If you ever find yourself an opposing jammer, thinking you’ve made it past her booty to the safety of the top of the pack, think again! Chances are, she’s already waiting for you there and you’re right where she wants you. If you ever find yourself in the Emergency Room, you might just be under the care of Nurse B. Working as an ER nurse is just a bit of her workout routine! She’s no Muncie native, but she’s no stranger to corn on the cob and this is where she calls home.

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“These girls are my family here in Muncie. We’ve been through a lot together and I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

After pumping herself up with her bout day favorites, The Pretty Reckless and In This Moment, catch B-Flattened and the rest of the Dames at CFDD’s first home bout of Season 5 on Sunday, February 22nd! Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, your favorite Dame, or at the door.

Featured Skater – Betty Fhite

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The first bout of Season 5 is coming in HOT and we want you to get to know a Dame every week!

This week’s Featured Skater is Betty Fhite #88 ½. Betty is a multi-talented FORCE: Nurse, theatre-dabbler, karaoke diva, mother of three cats, Betty White superfan, and blocker for CFDD. She loves roller derby because it prevents her from living at her job, keeps her active, and gives her a reason to travel and meet new people. “My home away from home is Topsail Island, North Carolina. I love that island and I try to travel to see my beach family three times a year.” On bout day, you might find her blaring Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, or Pre-Glitter Mariah Carey while applying her signature blue MAC eye shadow and metallic blue stripe under her right eye.

“I like to block. I like to block up front. I like to block up front on the inside. I also love throwing my shoulder into chests.”

Catch Betty Fhite and the rest of the Dames at CFDD’s first home bout of Season 5 on Sunday, February 22nd! Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, your favorite Dame, or at the door.