Hey derby fans! I recently had the opportunity to speak with Danielle Belliveau, aka “Bazinga”, of the Pile O’ Bones Derby Club in Regina. One of my major goals with this blog is not only to keep people updated on derby events around the prairies but to also get insight into the sport from the skaters, refs, and volunteers that make it such a big sucess! Bazinga is a member of the PBDC’s Lockdown Lolitas home team and their Sugar Skulls travel team. Keep reading to learn more about her personal experiences in roller derby, her aspirations as an artist, and her lifelong dream of petting a shark!
Without further ado, meet Bazinga!
Kevlar: First, I have to say I really love your derby name! It’s hands down one of the more fun ones out there! Where did “Bazinga” come from?
Bazinga: It’s actually from The Big Bang Theory, which I think most people figure out. But I was trying to think of a name for a really long time and I was watching an episode where they were saying “Bazinga!” a lot. So I thought it would be an awesome derby name because it was just so much fun to say!
Kevlar: It really is!
Bazinga: Exactly! So then you kind of try your derby name to see if it fits your skating style I guess. I didn’t think I could do one of the sexy derby names. I wanted something that was more fun and kind of crazy.
Kevlar: So is that how you would describe your skating style? Fun and crazy?
Bazinga: Yeah, I think so!
Kevlar: Awesome. How did you get started with roller derby in the first place?
Bazinga: I heard there was roller derby in Regina and I didn’t quite know what it was, I think my dad was actually more stoked about it then I was. So I went to a game with my friend, it was the Regina Molly Tovs versus Winnipeg, and I remember watching it and catching onto the rules really fast. I was like “I could totally do this!” because I used to figure skate when I was little. So I watched Whip It! after that, got myself a pair of skates, and went to try out for Freshmeat.
Kevlar: Well that’s good you were brave enough to just jump into it like that. How long did you figure skate for?
Bazinga: I figure skated competitively for 7 years.
Kevlar: Oh wow, what were some of your accomplishments in figure skating?
Bazinga: I was actually on the Saskatchewan Figure Skating Team. So you need to be top 3 in your skating level to make it into the team for your province and I was on that for a couple of years. It was fun but I quit pretty young when I was 13.
Kevlar: Did you find that your prior experience with figure skating helped you when it came to using quad skates?
Bazinga: Yeah I think it helps a lot because a lot of skating comes down to muscle memory. So I think it’s really frustrating for some people who haven’t had training when they were younger in some kind of sport. Since I had such intense training when I was younger it was easy for me to transfer that mindset to derby. So I caught on pretty quick and figure skating is also huge with balance and uses a lot of the same muscles that derby does.
Kevlar: Do you ever apply any of the fancy, in yo’ face moves you learned from figure skating to derby?
Bazinga: The Spread Eagle! You take your feet and put one so that it is facing forward and the other is facing backwards. We also call it Stretchy Crotch.
Bazinga: Yeah, so I’ve whipped that one out in games to avoid getting hit. I think I got a lot of my toe stop running from figure skating too.
Kevlar: Do you find “Stretchy Crotch” is overall pretty effective?
Bazinga: It is, (laughs) but you have to be careful when you use it because sometimes you can leave yourself wide open for a super deadly hit.
Kevlar: True! Now, when you were a growing derby girl, as Freshmeat, were there any specific obstacles you had to personally overcome?
Bazinga: (Laughs) There were! I remember when I first started skating my feet moved faster than my brain could process it all so I had really crazy Bambi legs! I was also trying to rock artsy arms, like I was holding my arms way up to the side and it took me a while to just let go and trust my teammates. That was the biggest thing I think.
Kevlar: Have you found that you’ve improved as a skater since letting go and trusting your team?
Bazinga: Definitely! It’s not an individual sport; it’s a team sport, so trusting your teammates is pretty huge.
Kevlar: Indeed! Let’s talk injuries for a minute. Everybody gets them and some are bigger than others. Have you had any really rough injuries in derby?
Bazinga: I had a really, really good one in Freshmeat when we were learning how to hit. (Laughs) I had no clue what I was doing and during one of the practices we had Anna Filactic out helping us. She said “Okay, I’m gonna hit you and you’re gonna hit me!” and I was just really stoked about getting to hit Anna Filactic! So we both ended up just skating at each other really fast and I had it in my head that I was going to hit her while she had it in her head that she was going to hit me, as opposed to us each taking turns. So we both went at each other full force and I dislocated a rib!
Kevlar: Dayum! What was the recovery time on that one?
Bazinga: Well I was silly because I kept on trying to skate through it, which is a lesson all derby girls need to learn! I also pulled something in my quad not too long ago and was out for a few games because of it. I think we all push ourselves past the limit sometimes with injuries. But I was never really “out” for the ribs injury. I couldn’t participate in a lot of practices though.
Kevlar: Well it’s good you haven’t been injured too seriously! Now, what is it about roller derby that keeps you so invested in it?
Bazinga: There’s a constant challenge. You can always get better, which is something I really like because I’m kind of a perfectionist. There are lots of other people that are always challenging themselves too and it’s awesome to be a part of that. So there’s always that drive but there’s also so many awesome people involved in it. I’ve met some really amazing people that are going to be a part of my life forever now. I think you can really find a place where you belong in derby.
Kevlar: So the people you skate with, or sometimes against, really end up motivating you.
Bazinga: Exactly! You can push yourself on your own and then you see somebody pushing themselves that much harder and it really inspires you.
Kevlar: And for some derby girls that inspiration can come from someone really specific, their derby wife!
Bazinga: That’s right!
Kevlar: So for those who may not know, what is a derby wife?
Bazinga: (Laughs) Oh! We just went through this as a league! I think it’s kind of different for everybody. I feel like a derby wife is a skater that you really connect with and that really pushes and challenges you. It’s also a skater that always has your back no matter what you decide to do. They have your best interests at heart and they’re somebody that you can do really crazy stuff with that you might not be able to do with your everyday best friends. There’s just a different level to it with a derby wife!
Kevlar: Do you have a derby wife? Who is it?
Bazinga: I do! It’s Maiden Sane.
Kevlar: A bajillion derby girls just groaned with jealously after reading that.
Bazinga: (Laughs) Totally! I never thought I’d actually have a derby wife but if Maiden Sane proposes to you, you just HAVE to say yes!
Kevlar: No kidding! So how is Maiden Sane as a derby wife?
Bazinga: She’s fantastic! She’s constantly challenging me as a skater because she’s so @#%$ing deadly! And for me it just feels great that she thinks I can challenge her as a skater too. We’ve always got each other’s back and always support each other. She’s really awesome.
Kevlar: How did you guys end up discovering such a connection in each other to begin with?
Bazinga: When I started in the league it was Maiden’s second season, my first season, and we had always noticed Maiden did her own thing and was kind of crazy! I think at one point I saw it as a challenge to reach the level of skating that she’s at. So I started to challenge myself by skating against her as much as I could and tried to do the same kind of crazy things she did. I really just started to think outside of the box. So it eventually just kind of became “Oh Bazinga and Maiden, they’re just doing their own thing!”
Kevlar: Alright, let’s change gears here. Tell us a little about Bazinga outside of derby! What do you do for a living?
Bazinga: Oh man! In the summer I work in a garden center which is kind of fun and then in the winter I’ve been working at HMV with some other derby girls. I’m actually going to be going to school in the fall for graphic communications so I’m going to be doing graphic design work. I want to be doing something where I can be more creative and artistic!
Kevlar: Cool, have you done a lot of art and do you consider yourself an artistic individual?
Bazinga: Yeah, I am! It’s always been a big part of my life. I don’t know if I was raised to be artistic but my mom definitely nurtured it. She was an art teacher herself. So she’s always nurtured my creativity, which I’m really happy about. Lately I’ve also been trying to branch out and do more things that could create opportunities for me to make money off of my art, which I think I totally could! Actually, I just recently did our Summer Smackdown bout poster which was cool!
Kevlar: Oh awesome, it was a great poster! That’s really cool! So has your mom been a big help with fostering your development in the arts?
Bazinga: Yeah, we have all these pictures of me as a kid doing art. I think my mom’s favorite picture of me is where I’m at an easel with a painters “outfit” on but I was really just wearing a big shirt backwards that was not buttoned up all the way so I’m sitting there with my butt hanging out while painting. It’s always enjoyed doing it so my mom just made it something that was always easy for me to get to. I was never forced into it which is good because I’d run away. (Laughs) I’ll push away if I’m force into something.
Kevlar: I’m the same way. Now, nothing tells you more about somebody than their answers to ridiculous questions. So, if you were stranded on a desert island, what are 3 things you absolutely could not do without?
Bazinga: Do I have all of my necessities to survive?
Kevlar: (Laughs) Sure.
Kevlar: Yep, you’re good to go survival wise!
Bazinga: Okay. Oh man! There are so many things I would want. Right now, in this moment, I would say I’d want all of my friends. But that’s one thing! That’s only ONE thing though, okay!?
Kevlar: (Laughs) Okay, okay!
Bazinga: And then I’d want deep fried pickles and a deep fryer. And the deep fryer is solar powered!
Kevlar: That’s a good call because electricity is just not realistic on a small desert isled
Bazinga: Right! Okay so all of my friends, a never ending supply of deep fried pickles, and a solar powered deep fryer.
Kevlar: I just want to take this opportunity to point out that you would be FULLY willing to strand all of your friends with you just so you could have company.
Bazinga: (Laughs) Yes. But we’d have deep fried pickles and I’m loads of fun! So they’ll be fine!
Kevlar: Alright, next. What are 3 things from your bucket list?
Bazinga: Oh man! I was just thinking about this the other day! Okay, so I want to pet a shark.
Kevlar: (Laughs) What?
Bazinga: I’ve had that one for a while now! I really want to pet a shark!
Kevlar: I’ll admit that would be pretty wicked. Okay, so what else?
Bazinga: I also want to design and build a giant tea cup bed for myself. I even looked into tea cup rides to see if you can get like old ride parts and maybe turn that into a bed but I think I’m going to have to start from scratch on that one.
Kevlar: Great answers! What is something people don’t know, or would never guess, about you?
Bazinga: I was born with six toes.
Kevlar: Really? That’s awesome. You’re like Hank McCoy from the X-Men! Was it on just one foot or both?
Bazinga: (Laughs) Both feet, it was a little symmetrical mutation there! They cut them off when I was three days old though because they weren’t connected to the bone properly.
Bazinga: I know! Bummer!
Kevlar: So now that we’ve sort of touched on the subject, you’re actually sponsored as a skater by Comic Readers right?
Kevlar: Are you a big comic book fan yourself?
Bazinga: Oh yeah!
Kevlar: What are some of your favorites?
Bazinga: Well I actually got into comic books through Rouge and the X-Men books so I’m a sucker for anything with her or mutants. I really love the old school golden age comics from Marvel so I started collecting those again. I really like a lot of the darker stuff too, like The Sandman (DC/Vertigo Comics, written by Neil Gaiman). I’ve also started getting into the Walking Dead!
Kevlar: Oh the Walking Dead is amazing!
Bazinga: Agreed! But yeah, sometimes you just fall in love with one character and you’re a sucker for anything that happens with that character even if it’s not a good story. For me that’s Rogue.
Kevlar: Oh I hear you! I think every comic book fan has a favorite. I was introduced into comics through Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men and even though she’s not real I totally had a huge crush on Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat. So I have to read everything involving her even if it’s sometimes garbage.
Bazinga: (Laughs) Nice! Yeah it’s like a train wreck, you just have to keep reading but sometimes it’s really painful.
Kevlar: Anyway, on that embarrassing note of admitting my crush on a fictional character… Let’s finish off with more derby talk. When all is said and done, would you say that your derby persona is different from who you are off the track, or is Bazinga and Danielle one in the same?
Bazinga: I feel like Bazinga is me amplified! I’ve grown into it and gained a lot of confidence. I used to be very shy and was very introverted, kind of like a hermit. I was quite the “people pleaser” too, I would never stand up for myself. So I’ve really gotten better in all of those areas because of the confidence boost roller derby gave me.
Kevlar: I also wanted to hear your perspective on the growth of derby in general. It is REALLY booming all across Canada, all across the world actually! So how does it feel being a part of a sport that is on the verge of exploding internationally?
Bazinga: It’s super awesome! Like when we had the world cup for roller derby it was amazing just being able to watch it and being able to know some of the girls who were in it because we’re such a tight knit group of women. The sport itself just brings us all together and there’s a lot of pride in being a strong athlete. It’s really cool seeing that pop up everywhere and seeing people look up to women who are pushing themselves. Just seeing so many new leagues constantly forming in small places across Saskatchewan is really cool too! There’s really a sisterhood that forms from it as leagues want to skate with each other and learn from each other.
Kevlar: And how do you find the derby community here in Saskatchewan?
Bazinga: I love it! You almost feel like you can go anywhere that there is a derby team and you have a little family there.
Kevlar: So if the opportunity ever arose or the sport got to that point could you see yourself playing derby professionally?
Bazinga: I would love to! Part of me has wanted to maybe even move down to the states at some point for it. If I could play professionally I would, I love it so much. I haven’t really had anything that has motivated me this much, ever, in my life!
So there you have it folks! I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it and talking with Bazinga! It’s always great to learn more about the passionate women that make this sport what it is. If you’d like to learn more about the Pile O’ Bones derby league check out their webpage here and their Facebook group here.
Now it’s time for all of you to really get involved with a content update! Post here about who you think I should interview next, what league they are from, and why you think they should be interviewed! The person promoted in a comment that gets the most likes will be who I interview next for a featured blog post. The winner will be decided on Sunday, September 2nd and will be contacted shortly afterward. So get your friends and league to help vote for your derby girl suggestion! Head on over to the Kevlar the Zebra Facebook page to get invovled! Starting…. NOW!