Skater Spotlight is proud to feature Astro Boyd aka Sheriff of Naughty Slams aka Sheri. Whatever his name is, he’s a integral member of both the DisHonour Rollers, as a benchie, and Capital Carnage, as the original driving force to forming our men’s team and as a kick-ass player.

Also, tomorrow night he’ll be playing in his first ever men’s only game, joining the boys from SMASH with four of his Carnage brothers as part of the men’s demonstration bout.

Photo credit: Roaringstorm Photography

Photo credit: Roaringstorm Photography

How many years have you been skating? 

I bladed a bit a kid and played a bit of roller hockey. After many years off wheels, I first put on quads with Varsity in late 2011.

How did you get involved in roller derby?

In 2011, my partner (Diazeslam) and I had seen a few bouts and she was really keen to give it a go.  I was a too busy with normal life to get involved at the time, but I sat in on a few of the early get togethers of ANU social skate (the precursor to Varsity) and late night practice sessions with derby hopefuls at the local primary school’s basketball court.  Eventually, as the group grew into a league and the need for things like refs grew, I found myself on skates.

Photo credit: Candace Sunshine

Photo credit: Candace Sunshine

What is your favourite position?

Benchie, blocker, pivot.  In that order.

Do you have a pre-bout routine? 

When I’m playing I do the same set of on-skates warm ups as I do at the start of training sessions in order to try and keep the situation as normal as possible.

When benching, I have a pretty involved pre-bout prep, commencing about a week out, and involving cramming the rules and all the clarifications, reviewing the two team rosters, and, if I have time, watching footage of as many bouts at the level we are playing as I can.  The aim is to be as laid-back as possible on game day, so that we can set the strategy and lay out the first line-ups with as little stress as possible.

Do you have a favourite song to get amped pre-bout?

Anything loud, heavy and full of cheese does the job.

What was your favourite bout moment?

Lining up behind the jam line with Diazeslam at a C.R.A.S.H. event in early 2014.

How did you choose your derby name?

My reffing and now benching name is Sheriff of Naughtyslams.  Being a career bureaucrat in my Clark Kent life, I first did extensive derby name research and then created a long list of potential names which I whittled down with a MCA and focus group-based appraisal.  In short, I picked about dozen name puns vaguely related to authority and derby that I thought were funny, ran them passed some friends and knocked out the ones they didn’t laugh at.

I play under Astro-Boyd.  I had kind of wanted to keep my playing and my benching / reffing separated.  I threw Astro Boyd up as an option for a super-hero themed bout early in 2014 – one of my first public bouts – and it stuck.

What skate set-up do you have/Do you have any gear recommendations?

Crazy DBXs with Sure Grip Avenger plates and (finger slicing) Roller Bone Turbo 92As.  Whilst I’d recommend getting boots that fit you best and wheels that suit your surface, I totally endorse the Avenger plates.  Even for a festively plump player like me, they remain solid under foot during the most aggressive hockey stop, but are nicely reactive as you as you move weight around the platform.

In regards to recommendations: invest your time and money in training and bootcamps, not picking and purchasing yet another set of wheels or fancier gear.  Fancier gear won’t make you a better skater, not matter what humorous WFTDAtv ads suggest.  Training hard and with lots of different skaters will.

What is one piece of advice you would give a freshie?

‘Cos you’re not the boss of me, here are my *three* things.

Firstly, invest in good protective gear, not good skates. Good skates won’t stop you falling over, and when you do, you’re going to want reliable pads and helmet.

Secondly, skate a lot and skate outside of derby.  Being on wheels is not natural for a human being and to make it natural you ideally want to be on wheels at least four times a week as you are learning (more days on than off).  Also, try and do things other than derby to diversify your skills set.  Do outdoors skates.  Play roller soccer or hockey.  If you are confident and have a friend with experience to guide you, try ramp skating.

Thirdly, NSO as much as you can. Understanding the rules and officiating will make you a better player once you get there.

Did you play sport before derby?

I’ve played a bunch of sports, most particularly (soccer) football both outside and indoor, and squash.  Nothing beyond amateur-hour social sport.

Who are your derby heroes and why?

I don’t really believe in heroes: you should be yourself first, and if that isn’t working, then be yourself some more until it does.  However, seeing as I have a soapbox, there two groups of derby-people I want to advocate.

Firstly, I totally respect those handful of skaters who manage to both be paradigms of derby whilst still holding on to their humanity. Here I’m talking about folk like Sintax (mega-official), Kernel Panic (ref, player, Mr-ERRD) and ‘Copter (player, ref, trainer, international derby man of steel), although there are many more.  These people who are the ones who actually make the derby happen for the rest of us mortals, who actually care more about the state of derby as a sport than their own success and thus are offensively successful at the sport, and who are both fun to bout with and beer after with.

Secondly, I’m always in awe at each round of freshmeat.  Sometimes a non-skater joins, whacks wheels on their feet, and can skate like Jonathon E.  That is awesome.  But most of the time, it takes months, even years, to move from strapping on skates to even being able to skate the basics well.  Yet despite that, intake after intake we get freshmeat who keep on keeping on, who come to every training session even when they don’t pass white star first time (or second time), who are there NSOing every bout, who are always first to ask questions of trainers and last to take their skates off at the end of sessions.  Those are the guys who remind me week to week why this is the sport worth participating in.

How would you sum up your derby playing style in three words? 

Large, loose and lone-wolf.  And that’s just when I’m benching.