*Note: this is part 2 of a feature on the Plap City Rollers. Read about the league and their involvement in the community of Portage la Prairie HERE.
Tina Jansen, the coach and founder of the Plap City Rollers, was completely candid when it came to talking about how they’re progressing as a unit and what they are doing to promote the sport of women’s flat track roller derby in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba; but who exactly is this derby coach they call “Girlmeat”? I was originally going to include Tina’s personal information in the first article but I felt it would work better as a separate interview installment to keep all of the information being presented more focused. So here is the story that wasn’t told the first time around! Meet Tina Jansen, aka Girlmeat!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Tina! What made you decide to bring roller derby to Portage la Prairie?
Girlmeat: Portage is my home! All of my family, my best friend, and most of my other friends live here and I felt that portage was in desperate need of something new and fresh and exciting.
I see you live in Winnipeg though. Is the commute to Portage la Prairie for derby alright?
Girlmeat: It is totally fine for me. I have been commuting between Portage and Winnipeg all my life. I grew up in Portage and I’ve lived in Winnipeg off and on throughout my life. I would live in Portage if it wasn’t for my husband! He is a city boy and loves it in the Winnipeg. Portage is too small for him. But I’ll get him down there one day!
I bet you will! So, did you get the ball rolling on your own with starting the Plap City Rollers or have there been others involved with you since the very beginning?
Girlmeat: I don’t think anyone can ever claim to do anything on their own. I had help in many ways: emotional support, business support, advice, and then the girls who have joined since the beginning were instrumental to the success of this league. I don’t ever want to take credit and say I did this on my own because that would be a lie. Everyone has played their part in our uprising into derby awesomeness!!
How did you first hear about roller derby and when did you know it was a sport you wanted to be a part of?
Girlmeat: I first heard about it on the internet, and then my husband and I watched Whip It! when it first came out and I though “oh that would be fun”. A couple months later a girl I knew from the where I was working at the time knew a girl starting a separate league from the WRDL in Winnipeg. So I went and put on a pair of shitty old roller skates and was hooked. I figure skated for 13 years so once I got my bearings under me I caught on very quickly, bought my gear, and have been on my skates ever since. This was about 3 years ago. Starting with this league my skills have improved ten-fold and I cannot wait to get on the track and kick some butt!
What is it specifically about roller derby that you like?
Girlmeat: I love that I get to keep my individuality while playing a team sport. I love the aggressiveness of it, I love the exercise, and I love the friendship you get with girls that you would have never met in ordinary life. I just love everything about it!
Okay I’ve stalled long enough, I have to know! How did you come up with your derby name?
Girlmeat: (Laughs) Girlmeat, hey? Well it started off as my X-Box gamertag. When I made my X-Box profile name I was listening to the Lady Gaga song “Teeth” and there are these lyrics that go “take a bite of my bad girl meat, show me your teeth”. So I just put Girlmeat as my X-Box name. Well, the uproar over it from people in chat rooms waiting to play Halo or Left For Dead was hilarious! So when I wanted a derby name it felt so naturally me that I went with Girlmeat and I haven’t looked back since. It is just dirty enough without being obscene, which I love.
Even though you guys are a relatively new league, have you managed to find a derby wife in the Plap City Rollers or the larger derby community?
Girlmeat: I sure have! Jenny Sandney, or Eddy Nigma, is now and forever my wifey!
Excellent! When did you two realize you had that strong connection as athletes and friends?
Girlmeat: Eddy Nigma and I have been best friends for around 8 years so when she joined derby and I saw her skill level shoot through the roof I knew that I needed to propose. So on her birthday this past july I proposed and she said yes!
What is it about her that makes her such a good derby wife?
Girlmeat: Jenny is a amazing derby wife because she is kind, generous, funny, and she cheers me on when we are doing drills. I cheer her on too and we are not afraid to call each other out if we feel an elbow. We’re also not afraid to push each other past our limits.
Off the track she is the bestest friend anyone could have. I am so lucky to have a derby wife like Eddy Nigma! She was a bridesmaid at my wedding (I did not dub a maid of honor ) as was I at hers. We even have matching tattoos on the back of our thighs. It was just natural to move from best friendship to derby wifeynesss!
You’re also quite the talented photographer, how long have you been doing that for?
Girlmeat: Oh geez. I have always had an interest in photography. I’ve been doing it with a career in mind probably about 3 years but I have always had a passion for great imagery
And how did you get into photography in the first place?
Girlmeat: My boyfriend, now my husband, told me I was pretty good! I used to do a bit of modeling and started taking pictures myself. Then I taught myself Photoshop and went wild from there!
Did you study it in school or are you primarily self-taught?
Girlmeat: I did study it in school I took the diploma course at Prairieview School of Photography, which is a very intensive one year program that teaches you digital technique, film shooting development, printing your own photos in the dark room, history, Photoshop , lightroom, creativity, and gives you so many opportunities to improve yourself as an artist. I met so many amazing friends and colleagues too! It was a truly incredible year!
How’s your business going?
Girlmeat: It is going great, summer is always SO busy! I work at Fame Nightclub on the weekends doing photos there and I shoot for the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team as well. I also do a lot of portrait work as well. But my passion is boudoir photography and I hope I eventually can survive with just doing that.
Now what is something about yourself that nobody knows or would never guess about you?
Girlmeat: Oh hmmm, well I like to crochet and craft. I am a HUGE crafter. It’s not really a secret but sometimes people don’t expect seeing a tattooed, pierced derby girl crocheting a pink baby blanket for a friend.
I think I’d be a little thrown off seeing it too! What other interests do you have?
Girlmeat: My dogs! I LOVEEEEEEEE my dogs! I have a 2 year old American bulldog named Lula and a 1 year old Catahoula named Marlowe. They are my children and I love them with all my heart. Anyone who has me on Facebook or Instagram knows how much I love my dogs!
I also have a budding love of performance art and other mediums. My husband is a co-owner and operator of the Central Canadian Center for Performance so he has really opened my eyes to the art world and other interesting things like that.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself that hasn’t been covered?
Girlmeat: I just believe that derby is such a beautiful sport with such an amazing community and I feel completely blessed to be a part of it!