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NAQ 2019 : Chat with Toronto Men’s 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.

Toronto Jammer D Ray talks us through their season so far. 

What has been your MRDA highlight for 2019? 

Battle of Bunker Hill; a tight game against Mass Maelstrom that came down to the last jam. I jammed for whatever reason. Never been so nervous in my life. Crowd was frantic and the refs had a three minute O.T.O that built huge suspense. I got a penalty right away, then My Baby Daddy got lead and called it for the win. It was kind of a low point for me but also totally amazing to even get a chance to screw up in so tight of a situation. 

Have any other moments stood out personally for you? 

Playing Manneken at Mohawk Valley Cup. They were basically an unknown (to us) and an underanked team. We weren’t sure what to make of them from videos but they got here and just brought it so hard I wasn’t even mad they beat us. They were so technically skilled and derby smart it was an honour to play them. I saw them at Brew Haha a few weeks later and was cheering them on.

What does it mean to be a part of NAQ?

It means a hell of a lot. I’ve been playing for about six years but couldn’t go to the US until this year. Last year I didn’t play one MRDA game, including our playoff run so it’s an honour to be a part of it. I’m also getting on (33) but derby is the first thing, let alone sport, that I was ever good at so I’m pumped to be a part of the postseason. Also, I help coach the Toronto Women’s team and the Montreal New Skids on the block. Toronto Men making it post season means every team I worked with this year made it, and that’s nice.

What will you be working on during the tournament? 

Personally I just want to show up. I dont think I’m the best or anything, but I work hard and I want to see how my skills and effort stacks against good teams. As a team I just want us to work together and have fun. Toronto isn’t a big league and we aren’t really able to have consistent bigger practices. People live all over the area, some a few hours or even a plane ride away. So it’s nice to be together on game weekends and hang out.

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

I’m stoked to play Denver. So many good players. I skated with a few at Rollercon but it’ll be way different to see them with their team. We probably couldn’t play them in the regular season. But also I’m interested in any team that we wouldn’t normally play due to distance, like Austin.

Who’s the one to watch on your team? 

Senor Wiener is an obvious choice. He’s a gem of a guy and a joy to watch. Sleep has got the size, skill and smarts to be among the best blockers out there. Boxcar is smart a.f. and as skilled as they get. Pottymouth is somehow always on his toe stops and awesome to watch get through a pack. 

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

Armand Hammer. He’s newish but does a lot already. He should also get the ‘Outstanding Beard’ award.