The fate of their home rink, Cincinnati Gardens, may be up in the air, but the Cincinnati Rollergirls are still going strong after a decade as the city’s official all-female flat-track roller derby league. Jennifer Damron (a.k.a. Sailor Scary) discusses life as a member of the Black Sheep (CRG’s varsity team), coach of the Cincinnati Junior Rollergirls, and, uh, pre-school teacher at the Montessori Academy of Cincinnati. We sat down with Sailor Scary to talk broken ribs, tattoos, and the value of setting a good example.
“I started skating with the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana. When I met my husband—he’s from Cincinnati—I had a chance to join a bigger team.
Every girl gets to pick her name. A lot of them come from popular culture. Sailor Scary is derivative of Sailor Jerry, who was a tattoo artist.
From day one I have done crazy makeup—I figured I need to put some fear into them! The very first time it was red, just a little bit around the eyelids. Then I wanted to get a little louder; I found this balance of black and blue. My persona flew into that. I became a little bit of a terror on the track.
Back in the 1970s, all the arm-bars, punching—roller derby was all fake. It’s evolved. People don’t realize how much effort and athleticism goes into this.
I love being able to feel that power, hitting somebody so hard and knocking them down. I have had a broken rib, messed-up tailbone, torn ACL, busted lip, black eye, countless bruises. I’m pretty sure I had a broken nose. That’s the name of the game, like football. It’s a full-contact sport.
My day job has helped me with my hobby, honestly. I teach ages 3 to 6 years old. I talk the children through their emotions. With me coaching the juniors, ages 8 to 18, whenever I see an older kid not setting a good example, I say, Look, you’ve got this 8-year-old looking at you. I’ve been able to pull that little teacher trick out.
This past year we lost a lot of games; we went through a really big transformation. This is a brand new chapter for CRG. I feel like we’re going to rise up like a phoenix this year.”
Originally published in the February 2015 issue.
Photograph by Annette Navarro