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NAQ 2019 : Chat with Mohawk Valley Roller Derby

An epic weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland for the European leg of the qualifiers saw Kamiquadz and Manneken Beasts gain a spot in the Champs. Sadly, the Beasts were forced to decline their invitation, but the Kamis will form part of the top twelve teams who will face off at the MRDA Championships co-hosted by Denver Roller Derby, October 11 – 13. 

We’re now a moments away from NAQ 2019 which sees Denver Ground Control, Mohawk Valley Roller Derby, Lane County Concussion, Philadelphia Hooligans, Austin Anarchy, Chicago Bruise Brothers, Race City Rebels and Toronto Roller Derby battle it out for the final few spots. The event, which is co-hosted by Mohawk Valley Roller Derby, takes place this weekend in Rome, New York.

Here MRDA chats to Mohawk Valley’s head coach Gutshot and Captain Brandon Scherz.

What has been Mowhawk’s MRDA highlight for 2019?

G: Our team highlight was definitely winning the Mohawk Valley Cup for the first time in our leagues’ history! We have been the proud host of the tournament since 2012, but have never finished above 4th place.  

BS:  Definitely winning our own tournament. This was our 6th year hosting and 1st time winning. It felt so good to get that win. 

Have any moments stood out to you personally?

G: Our first jam in our final game vs Manneken Beasts at the MVC –  two minute jam with no lead, some of the beast blocking I have witnessed in my eleven years of roller derby. That was the best the Quadfathers have ever played and I’m still beaming with pride from that team win.

BS: MVP blocker at MVC has been a personal goal of mine and this year I was finally able to get it. I’ve received lots of MVPs and honors over the years but this one has eluded me and felt very satisfying to get finally.

What does it mean to be a part of NAQ?

G: Everything. Last year our main goal was to make it to NAQ. We made it in at the 6th seed, pulled off a couple of upsets and made it to the finals against a strong Denver team. This year we are going in as the number two seed at a NAQ that we are proud to be hosting. We are no longer the eternal underdogs, we have a target on our backs and we have to work hard to obtain our goal of qualifying for Champs. 

BS: It means a lot to me for our team to be at NAQ. Our skaters and coaches have worked very hard to put us in a good position to succeed the last two seasons. 

What will you be working on during the tournament?

G: Personally I will be working on keeping everyone hydrated, rested and focused. Tournament weekends take a lot out of you mentally and physically, even more so when you are hosting. 

On the track, the team will be working on taking control from jam one, as well as staying focused throughout every part of each game.

BS: During the tournament I’ll definitely be working on being the best communicator I can be and of course staying out of the box, haha (I’m sure that’s the goal of all skaters). 

Who are you personally looking forward to facing on the track and why?

G: I could say everyone! Seriously all of these teams are great and have put in work to get here. We will be facing Race City first, that should be an exciting game and I am sure they are out to avenge their loss to us from NAQ last year. I’m also looking forward to the possibility of facing Austin again.  We had a very slim victory over them last year, so that match up should be one to watch. Plus Austin is just one of the teams I love to watch and are all stand up human beings.

BS: I haven’t really thought of any personal matchups. I have just been focusing on taking it one game at a time and hopefully being able to skate Sunday night for a chance at going to champs. 

Who’s the one to watch on your team?

G: Another tough one, all of our players are standouts for different reasons. I’m going to say #1013 El Majestic though. He is a coach’s dream pivot; super-fast, has some of the best switches from offense to defense I have ever seen and is a power house. Besides all that he is one of the most kind-hearted, humble players I have ever had the honor to know. His greatness can’t fly under the radar any longer, whenever El Majestic is on the track people take notice. Get ready to have a new favorite blocker (if he isn’t yours already) MRDA!

BS: One person to watch on our team is definitely Funk, Anthony Acosta. Dude is a beast on the track!!!!

If there was an award for outstanding contribution behind the scenes in your league, who would get it and why? 

G: Again I feel like there are a number of people who could get this. I’m going to cheat and name a few because I think they should be recognized. Stever (#96) our president has worked tirelessly for years for MVRD. The Mohawk Valley Cup is his brainchild and baby (now adolescent?) and I don’t know where we would be without him. Chapin (#43) our Vice President has done a ton of work this season making sure MVRD has its ducks in a row to meet MRDA standards to allow us to continue to play and meet our goals. He is someone who truly cares about the league and the MRDA in general. Some of the best inter-team sportsmanship I have seen has come from Chapin and I’m always proud to have him represent MVRD. I also want to shout out Fuerza Brutal (#1213) who is in charge of our PR and marketing. Thank you for making us all look awesome and wrangling our often distracted selves. Brutal is someone every member of the league can rely on, on and off the track!

BS: Our coaching staff (including my wife:) ) definitely gets the award for outstanding contribution to the team. They volunteer to help at almost all practices and put up with my nonsense of always putting my two cents in.