Article by Jilly Hitzinger
I first met Flash Gorgeous last year during a wheel maintenance seminar. We were seated in the back of Apparition Skates, sipping margaritas as Kat A Killzem lead us through cleaning our bearings.
I introduced myself to her, excited to see her skates were much like mine: vintage Riedell speed skates. Unlike mine, however, hers were clearly well-used and well-loved. She told me she’d been a speed skater in her youth, and these had been her mother’s skates.
These skates–half a size too small, by her own admission–have taken her on a spectacular trajectory within the Texas Rollergirls.
Joining the TXRG Rec League in June of 2011, she tried out and was then drafted onto the Honkytonk Heartbreakers that fall, and onto the Texecutioners not long after that. In less than a year, she had gone from a complete derby newbie, to a skater on one of the highest-ranked teams in the country.
I recently sat down with her for coffee, and to learn more about her and her derby journey.
JH: What brought you to derby originally?
FG: I had been out with a soccer injury, and my doctor had said I could “never run again, and never play soccer again.” But he didn’t say anything about skating…
JH: How had you hurt yourself?
FG: It was during a soccer match. Another player and I went in for a kick on the ball at the same time, and the impact broke a bone in my foot. I stayed off it for a couple weeks, and then went back to training for a marathon. I was running in the marathon, and somewhere in the eighteenth mile, I realized, “My foot’s broke.”
That injury kept Flash out of sports for two and a half years.
JH: What brought you to Austin?
FG: Mr. Gorgeous and I flipped a coin. It was either going to be Portland or Austin, and Austin won.
JH: And what brought you to derby?
FG: Mr. Gorgeous was at a coffeeshop, and he saw Radioactive doing street team duty. He asked her for a card, I found the Rec League, and the rest is history.
JH: Do you think you would have gotten into derby if the coin had landed on the other side?
FG: I’d like to think so!
JH: What were your expectations trying out for TXRG?
FG: I had none. I really just did it to see if I could.
JH: And to be a Texie?
FG: I decided to tryout for the Texie’s to test myself. I wanted to see how much more I could be pushed and to practice as well as compete with the best in this sport. I wanted the experience to improve and to be challenged during this journey.
JH: And boy, did that work out!
JH: Tell me about speed skating when you were young.
FG: I did a lot of sports. Hockey, volley ball, track, softball, soccer. But speed skating was something I did with my mom. Coming back to Texas, coming back to skating, it really fills me with a lot of nostalgia.
Flash talks about skating with her mom fondly. Apparently Mama Gorgeous used to skate nationally!
JH: What’s your current skate setup?
FG: Atom wheels–the only wheels I’ll use! I’ve got GRods and Poisons on my skates. I use 187 knee and elbow pads, and Pro Designed wrist guards. Pro Designed knee pads are my next planned purchase! And my skates? My mom’s. They’re thirty years old, and they’re only just now being broken in.
I smile, thinking back to that day in the back of Apparition skates. Flash gives me a wolfish grin and says, “And I’m still in those same bearings.”
You can see Flash Gorgeous and the rest of the Texas Rollergirls again in their 2013 season at the Austin Convention Center.
If you want to throw your helmet in the ring, see http://www.texasrollergirls.org/about/tryouts-october-10-2012/ for tryout information!
Photos courtesy Jennifer Ramos and Facebook