Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Mickey Finn-isher Off of the Windy City Rollers!

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! The winner of my latest contest for Carrie Jones' book Captivate is... Audrey from blogger! Audrey, I will be emailing you shortly!

I'm particularly psyched about this week's Woman Who Rocks for a few reasons. 1. She is our first athlete on WWRW and she does the sport I only wish I was bad-ass enough to do... roller derby! 2. She is local. She lives in my town and in fact this Women Who Rock Wednesday is an expanded interview from a newspaper column I wrote that is being published today.

So first things first, you should run off and read that Forest Park Review column about Michelle Balogh AKA Mickey Finn-isher Off because it describes exactly what is so awesome about roller derby (in case you didn't already know) and gives you the basics on Mickey and the Windy City Rollers, which is the roller derby league here in Chicago that she is a part of as a member of the team Hell's Belles. So yeah... go read that.... We'll be waiting for you.

Okay, ready?

Let's meet Mickey Finn-sher Off!

First off, can I get the basics about you? Were you raised in Forest Park or how long have you lived here? And you mentioned there were about 10 other Windy City Rollers from the 'burbs. Any others from Forest Park?

Mickey: Michelle Balogh, Age 24. I was born and raised in Brookfield right near the zoo. I moved to Forest Park last year to be close to the L cause I work in the Loop. There are some Oak Park ladies. Sue Perduper, Fearagamo, Tamikazi, Notorious D.I.E., Tay Q Down, Diana Hoss and Tara Bonaparte are all from the area.

How did you get into roller derby? I imagine you'd have to be pretty athletic to get involved. Were you an active skater as a kid or involved in sports in high school? What was the process of getting into the Windy City Rollers like? You mentioned you were on a farm team of sorts first, can you just give a timeline, when you signed up, how long you were on the farm team, how long you've been on Hell's Belles?

Mickey: I saw a flyer a little more then a year ago and decided to go see one of the bouts and fell in love!! Since then it had been sitting there in the back of my mind. I didn't skate much as a kid it was mostly fellow kids birthday parties at Fleetwood or Lombard Lanes. I never owned my own pair of skates till 3/4 months ago.

I was involved in lots of sports growing up. I play softball, volleyball, did the swimming thing. In high school I play softball and ice hockey for Fenwick....

So there are tryouts for the farm team maybe twice a year and if you make it on then your a rioter and a windy city roller. You can be on the farm team for a few days or a year. Just depends on when team call a draft, who they need, if you get along with the other team members. Each team has a certain persona to it. The Manics are the crazy ladies, the Belles are the pretty ones LOL. The farm team is coached by two players from the home teams. They teach basic skating and derby skills and off skates to build up the proper derby muscles. I personally tried out for the farm team in early December. I got my skates a week before and had skated on them only once!! I totally didn't expect to make it. I was just thinkin I could go out and see what its like and get some feed back and try out next time for real. But I got an email the next day saying that they would like me to be on the farm team!! I could believe it. So I started to go to the Sunday practices and outside speed skate clinics. A few weeks later there was a draft called and I didn't even think twice about it.. there was a transfer from Gotham (New York) so I figured they wanted to give her a spot on a home team. So the day after the draft I'm checking my emails and there are two or 3 asking for my phone number and I replied with it. Later that day I got a phone call from the Capitan of the Hells Belles saying that I was drafted!! I flipped a shit. It was all so sudden for me...was I ready for this... how about the time commetment... but all that didn't matter I MADE A TEAM!! Some girls have been on the farm team for a 8-12 months. The reason I found out later that they drafted me was that I had heart no matter how many times I fell down in practice I got right back up and tried again. I am a loud mouth and have played team sports all my life so encouraging my teammates also made an impression. I guess my skating and quick learning and improvement was also a factor. All in all I made the team I think I said Holy Shit a million times that day and was in a daze at work. So I have been a Belle for about 2 months now. Loving every minute of it!!

How'd you pick your name?

I'm pretty darn Irish and proud and thought the pun on "Slipping someone a Mickey" was pretty good. The guy that the pun is named for is Mickey Finn he owned a bar on the South Side of Chicago way back when and would drug and rob some of the bar patrons went to jail and got another bar and did it again. LOL! My name being Michelle, figured it was good. Then I had to add the " Badass aspect" for those who didn't get the Mickey Finn reference. It makes it kinda long but its true to me and how I roll. Irish bad ass that likes to drink!!

The name selcetion seems to be the hardest part. I mean most of the people I know from derby if I haven't hung out with them outside I only know their derby names. So in the derby world I am Mickey. Its almost like a persona, like a second life that you live that only a few people know both people/personalities. One jewelry photographer and other torn-up fishnet, heavy makeup wearin ass kicker!

What's your training schedule like? Is it pretty brutal? Keeping ya in good shape? Any wicked injury stories yet?

Mickey: Well once you make it on a home team we scrimmage on mondays, have team practice on tue or wed depending on the team you are on. Have open league skates on Thursdays and Saturdays. The scrimmages are hour and a half 7 till 830 or 830 till 10. Team practice is 7 -9 or 9 -11... makes for a long night. The same hours apply for the league skates which are specfic to something like gettting more speed or pack awarness or blocking. The calendar for the farm team the Haymarket Rioters is a little different. We need to get cleared to do certain things within the league. This helps prevent major injurys so we dont have 5 year vets knocking the crap out of someone who has been on skates for a month. We are also "highly" encouraged to go to outside speed skates "AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE" at the local roller rinks to improve our speed and technique better. I could skate 7 days a week, 5 of them twice a day if I had the time and energy! We also have dry land workouts that are kinda specfic to derby as a sport!!

It does keep you in good shape but we do have to cross train. We work out our legs a whole lot!! Some ladies say that they have measured their quads and the left leg was 3 inches bigger then the right!! Makes its hard to find pants, LOL.

The worst I have gotten thus far is skate rap. This is when you fall and land on your skate right in your butt like your foot fold unerneath you. There comes a pretty nasty bruise right between the crack and its hard to sit for long periods of time. It sucks too cause you can't show anyone to prove it!! Rinks rash is pretty bad too its a like a carpet rash on steroids when your going 15 MPH . The court is a hard plastic with holes that go to the ground so its like sliding on a cheese grater ...less than pleasant!

What do you love most about doing Roller Derby? Is there anyone in particular that you look up to or keeps you motivated?

Mickey: That I still get to be athletic and physical and challenge myself everyday. After college there aren't many opportunity to get out there and hit some people with out having a lot of Bail money on hand. Also the comradery of the Ladies. We all have the same workout and love to come skate even when we are exhausted or just broke up with a boyfriend and want to cry. We are there for each other. Plus hitting others and getting back is a great stress relief. You don't have to wear your pants suits and put your hair up. You can wear funky sox and put your hair in pigtails if you wanted without getting strange looks or a "talk" from your boss. I look up to all the ladies for a multitude of different reasons. Some chicks have been skating since to start of WCR years ago. I look to them for the staying power and lessons about skating and tips. Other are just starting up and get knocked down all the time and get back up with a smile on there face and hit right back. Some still have been on the rioters farm team for almost a year yet they still show up to all the practice and bust their ass waiting for their opportunity to see their name in lights at the UIC Pavilion. So they all keep me motived and i look to them for inspiration on days when my knees are sore or my skate rap is hurting or im tired as hell. I just remember that we have all been in the exact same position and work througt it you become stronger physically and mentally like you can take on the world. Cheesy I know but you can say some of us are lacking class with our fishnets or not a size 2 but we all have heart. I think thats why fans come back. We dont get paid we actually pay dues to be part of the WCR so we do cause we love it.

Mickey and her derbymates warming up!

There's definitely an image to derby girls, a punky tough chick sort of thing. Can you address that at all? Was that something that naturally fit with your personality? Personally I love how bad ass all the Windy City Rollers look. I like that it's women looking powerful and not adhering to classic standards of beauty, just being themselves.

Mickey: I went to a Catholic high school and then went to NIU for Art photography so I kinda had to to wear a uniform for 8 years. One was a plaid skirt and then paint clothes or something that could get dirty. So finding my style was a little later and is always evolving prob like most people! All the girls have day jobs weither it be in a scientific lab or a lawyer or a stay at home mom where they have their styles but when they hit the tracks its your chance to express yourself and let loose. Whoever can find the craziest sox or leggings get mad props! We are pretty tough and the attire come with the sport!! You've got it exactly right, ladies just being themselves and there are some beauty queens and some crazy chicks with blue hair but we all have one goal kick ass and win! Skulls are our favorite find something with skulls on it all over! Tattoo are pretty much the common place on the skaters. Having only one myself, they are like where's your ink... So ashamed only a tramp stamp for me... But most girls have leg and sleeves tattoo which adds to the mystic of a derby girl!!

What would you say the primary audience is for Derby? Is it family friendly or more of an older crowd? (it seemed mostly people around our age when I went a couple years ago) What do you think people will enjoy most about going to see the Windy City Rollers?

Mickey: 20- 30s, a decent mix. Some older... we have gotten a lot more really young fans recently too. I think in the past few years we and derby has become less "underground" and more widely accepted. I know the movie Whip It had an influence on our audience. There are a lot of family and friends that do come but then they bring friends and they fall in love... and so the cycle of life continues !!

People say what they like the most about the WCRs is prob the atmosphere. When you go to a game theres a big crowd and cheering and girls on skates on the concourse passing out flyers and chatting with you. We are a fan interactive sport. We love to hear from the fans and talk about everything derby. After each bout we all go to the Fan Zone and sign programs and take pictures! SO you get to see a real sporting event but you get to interact with the players you just saw skating around kickin some ass. Every bout we have in the regular season is a double header. So all 4 home teams play in one night so you can see one game have some nachos and a beer then meet some derby chicks then watch the 2nd game. So the price of the ticket really gets you a lot when you compare it to other sporting events you could be attending. You can be close to the action!!! Most of the ladies go out to an after party bar afterwards so the fan interaction can continue! They serve beer and other adult beverages at the UIC!!! But on that note we are also super kid friendly. The crazy untamed fun still happens just less swearing or vulgarity. Don't get me wrong there are still girls in fishnets and super short shorts that hit girls on their butts!! Going to see derby is not just a Saturday hitting the bars or doing some karaoke or watching the game at home, it's an experience you will remember for a long time!! We also have a great group rates 15 or more get a Major discount, a roped off section for all your people so late comers still get great seats, a shout out on the ticker tape and having a rioter (farm team) player sit in your section to answer questions is in the works!!....... We sponsor a charity for every event. The Windy City Rollers is a non for profit company.

Are there any comments you'd like to make about being a suburban derby girl? In terms of what that means for you, kinship you feel with the other suburban girls and how it matters to get a suburban audience out there?

The suburban girls are a special breed. Everything that we do is in the city so its a bunch of extra time for commuting and gas for driving or getting our happy asses out much less home after a late practice midnight on a week night. There aren't many of us but we are all troopers. I personally dont know the city that well so I see this as a great oppertunity to learn and expand. I think we are getting a bit more of a Burbs auidence. The UIC is right off the blue line so its accessible plus there is your ride home/DD. I am honored to be a burbs girl but represent Chicago as a whole. I hope the further we go away from the city will only help spread the word about roller derby.

I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Album No Doubt Tragic Kingdom it was between this and the spice girls I made the right choice!! and concert Smashing Pumpkins also where I had my first beer in public!! :)

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career or something huge that happened doing roller derby, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Mickey: It's between two times I played in the little league softball world series twice as an All Star, we played teams from China and Jamaica. Just to be able to have that memory of sharing the field with the best in the world is awesome even if its little league.. so I peaked early. But I was the catcher who caught all the opening pitches for the whole series. Pretty nice honor!! ........Or a moment thats coming up in the near future. I work for a jewelry company as a photographer. We have been working on our website for a while now. As soon as it gets all the bugs out it will be up and running. I didnt do any of the script writing but I did take and edit every single picture that is on the site and there are a whole ton!! When that is finally avaliable to the public I will consider myself a professional published photographer!!

I've gotta say emailing back and forth with Mickey and talking to her at my bar the Beacon has been one of the most fun WWRW interviews I've done. Hopefully you enjoyed it too and if you haven't already seen a roller derby bout, you are looking to see if there is one in your town. If you are in Chicago, you are in luck and should check out the Windy City Rollers! If you are in other cities, here is the national league information, so you can look for your local team!

This Week's Contest:

Mickey has been cool enough to put together a fun Windy City Rollers derby prize kit for one lucky winner. As usual, to enter all you have to do is leave a comment. Be sure to include your email address so I can track you down. For additional entries:

+1 tweeting/blogging about/linking to this interview
+1 tweeting/blogging about/linking to the Windy City Rollers
+1 for become a fan of the Windy City Rollers on Facebook/or Myspace/ or following them on twitter. (yes you get +1 for each of these!)

I'll draw a winner next week!


Social Distortia said...

Derby ROCKS! Just finished a book about it. It's a lot of fun to watch. (Signing this post with name of one of the characters)

throuthehaze said...

I love watching derby :)

+1 I follow them on twitter @throuthehaze

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Erica said...

I just recently got into derby! I love watching it and I really want to do it myself! That chick sounds badass!


Llehn said...

Derby is fun!


Audrey; (AyC) said...

Thank you so much, I have emailed you back! :)
Great post as usual

marina said...

dude, roller derby is so cool! i wish i could start a school roller derby team. that's the only sport i could rock at. i'm no good with any athletic ball or even birdies. i ALWAYS end up hitting someone in the head. haha. that movie that came out with ellen page recently, whip it, that was awesome. hopefully the rest of the world will see roller derby is super cool.