Karlene Harvey, aka Buffy Sainte Fury, wasn’t originally searching for Roller Derby when she first stumbled across the sport. On the hunt for a new collaborative project to get involved in, she was actually considering starting up a band when one day, while walking along the Vancouver seawall with one of her best friends, she saw a bunch of rollergirls skate by. Harvey knew she had just witnessed something special and three days later she had bought all of her Roller Derby gear.
After skating on her own for a little while Harvey tried out for Terminal City Rollergirls (TCRG) fresh meat program in 2010. By 2011 she was fully benchmarked and was drafted to the TCRG’s rookie house team, the Public Frenemys. In her first season of play she made it to the TCRG’s league finals alongside her teammates and was also awarded both rookie of the year and team MVP. “I was really honoured by it and I’ve always felt a great deal of support by those teammates ever since.”
Following her successful debut season, Harvey impressed at tryouts for the Terminal City All-Stars and made the roster. The All-Stars began discussing their goals and mission as a competitive team and after some thorough consideration, Harvey ultimately decided to commit herself 100% to helping them succeed in their aspirations. “The All-Stars had a goal to be as competitive as possible and that meant spending way more time working cohesively as a team. So far, that has worked out well for us in terms of WFTDA rankings,” explained Buffy.
In fact, it has worked out VERY well for them! This past September 14 – 15, 2013, Harvey played with the TCRG All-Stars at the WFTDA D1 Playoffs in Richmond, Virginia where they finished in 7th place of the 10 competing teams.
But aside from being a TCRG All-Star, a WFTDA Playoffs competitor and a member of Team Canada 2014, Karlene Harvey is also an accomplished artist and has traveled across Europe, South America and the United States.
KEVLAR: I saw that you illustrated a “young adult puck rock, coming-of-age novel” called Molotov Hearts, written by Chris Eng, that was web published on www.hoodieripper.com. Can you tell us a little about this and the other artwork you’ve done?
HARVEY: Chris Eng is a friend of mine, we met through the suburban punk rock scene when I was a teenager. I remember when the series first started, I had broken my finger on my drawing hand during the Wild West Showdown tournament in Bremerton, WA. The top of my finger had turned black, it was pretty gnarly looking. I was really afraid that the artwork wouldn’t be up to snuff because of that injury, but in any event, I’m happy with how that project turned out. It was the first illustration series I made time to work on since joining derby.
I wrote and illustrated my first children’s book last year on elder dementia, in partnership with Thompson River University and Secwepemc First Nation. It was really awesome to hang out with Native elders and listen to all of their stories.
I’m always working on projects, here and there. I’m hoping to create a zine about my 20s next year. I’m saying that now so I hold myself to it.
KEVLAR: Between competing in the 2013 WFTDA D1 Playoffs in Richmond Virginia and being selected for Team Canada 2014, it appears you’ve had a really successful year! In what ways do you feel you’ve really grown as an athlete since joining the Terminal City Rollergirls?
HARVEY: Besides fine tuning skills to work better with my teammates, I made a conscious decision to improve my plow stopping last year and that has transformed my blocking. I use to rely heavily on backwards blocking which worked great for a while… but with every strength, there can be an associated weakness. I’ve found that it’s best for me not to lean too hard on what I’m good at otherwise it becomes a crutch to compensate for my under developed skills. I want to be as well-rounded as possible. My next goals include interval training and vertical jumping — which Johnny Qwadd has said will help with faster, more explosive reactions.
KEVLAR: It looks as though you have seen a fair bit of the North America with your league. Where have you traveled and what was your favorite place to visit?
HARVEY: The All-Stars have carved a beaten trail up and down the west coast. We are frequent visitors of Washington and Oregon. In 2012, we had a whirlwind tour of California playing against Sacred, Santa Cruz, and Silicon Valley.
Personally, I’ve skated with teams across British Columbia, I want to make a bigger effort to support Canadian roller derby. I am also a huge supporter of native skaters and native communities who play roller derby, I am dying to play with the Mohawk team back east.
In 2013, we were invited to our first WFTDA tournament in Richmond, Virginia. Our farthest location to travel as a team, to date. It was an incredible experience, I love visiting the states and I can’t wait for where we might go in the near future
Oh, and my favourite place that we travel to is Oregon. It’s a beautiful state, Canon beach is incredible and our team frequently makes excuses to stop in Portland whenever we are traveling nearby.
KEVLAR: What would you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a skater?
HARVEY: My biggest strength is teamwork on the track, I’m keen to identify weaknesses so that I can work to fill those gaps while trusting what my fellow teammates are capable of. I’m a consistent player. My dad, who was a longtime coach, used to say that I might not be a home run hitter but I always get on base. I’m proud of that. Solo glory doesn’t interest me, I just want my team to win.
My biggest weakness is probably that I’m really sloppy with my equipment. I’m the skater whose laces will break before the first whistle, wheel bearings that rattle, knee pads held together with tape and toe stoppers that fall out mid jam. I’ve been using a reusable grocery bag for an equipment bag over the past year. I mostly think it’s funny but it drives some of my teammates crazy. Anyways, this year I’m going to be more responsible and act less like a hobo.
KEVLAR: What are you most excited about in terms of participating at the 2014 Blood & Thunder World Cup of Roller Derby next December?
HARVEY: I am looking forward to getting incredibly fit this year. I increased my training leading up to Team Canada tryouts and I definitely noticed the difference in my performance. So I can’t wait to see how a more intense training plan will improve my game.
I am also looking forward to competing against some of the best skaters in the world. Skaters that I may never have the opportunity to skate against due to geographical distance or how WFTDA division tournaments shake out.
KEVLAR: What advice would you give to the other skaters who tried out for Team Canada but didn’t make the roster this time around?
HARVEY: When I was 15, I didn’t make the “A” hockey team. After that, I lost a lot of my confidence and motivation. It was soul-destroying in the weakest of moments. I never approached that sport in the same way again and I ended up dropping out a year after. Looking back, the biggest regret that I have isn’t that I did not make the team. It was that I didn’t take it as an opportunity to overcome that life hurdle, fighting back to prove to myself how strong and determined I can really be.
In life, these obstacles are chances to work harder, dig in and fight to show who you really are. Focus in on what’s around you, the opportunities right in front of you and continue to strive for the best.
In the months leading up the 2014 Blood & Thunder World Cup of Roller Derby I will be posting more interviews with the other skaters selected from Western Canada. Read up on our last two featured Team Canada 2014 skaters, Evada Peron and Eve Hallows.
a special thank you to Nicolas Charest of www.rollergirl.ca for use of the photographs!
Who is well past his designated “blogging” time.