The one and only Red Hot Jillie Pepper was voted VDL’s Most Valuable Skater of 2013, has represented VDL in the ERRaDiCATORS and is this years Captain of the Dishonour Rollers.

Photo credit: Steven Craddock, Skate hard with a Vengeance, 13th July 2013

Photo credit: Steven Craddock, Skate hard with a Vengeance, 13th July 2013

How many years have you been skating?

In total? I wouldn’t actually know. Derby, about 2.5.

How did you get involved in roller derby?

My friend told me about it and took me to see a bout. I knew the moment I saw it I knew I wanted to be on the other side of the suicide line.

What is your favourite position?

Upright. 😉 I like playing whatever position. I love my team and know they have my back. I have a lot of faith in them making gaps when I’m jamming, or helping me block a hole when we’re blocking.

What was your best “lightbulb” moment?

This question is impossible to answer. I’ve met so many talented skaters and sportspeople since starting derby. There’s no one piece of advice I could single out. The most memorable was when Colonel Slanders taught me not to look backwards over my shoulder or down when skating backwards. You don’t get dizzy if you look ahead by half a track.

Do you have a pre-game routine?

I try to have a good breakfast and get packed early. But when I get to the venue I tend to panic about not panicking. I always feel a bit numb until the first whistle. Then it’s all adrenaline.

What was your favourite bout moment?

There is no single bout moment that I could choose, but I do get a huge kick out of the team having those magic jams where it all just works.

How did you choose your derby name?

In the shower. After lots of failures. I’m not that attached to it really. I much prefer my number.

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

I skate on a poorly fitting second-hand pair of Reidell She Devils on garish red sunlight plates that I accidentally mounted off centre. My bearings are rusty and my wheels look like Swiss cheese. I love them. They’re heavy and pretty scruffy and the boots don’t fit, but they’ve taken me to some pretty amazing places.

I would recommend getting gear that fits. Especially boots. You can blow a lump of cash you can’t jump over on boots, and then realise that they stretch and are useless to you just a few short weeks later. Take your time choosing and try stuff on if you have the chance.

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

NEVER, EVER compare yourself to anyone other than yourself. Are you better at this than you were before? Yes…Then you’re heading in the right direction.

Also, ask questions.

Who are your derby heroes and why?

Derby heroes is a really strange concept to me. There does seem to be some celebrity around the better known skaters, but making the “A team” or the “travel team” does not a hero make. My heroes are the ones who do it without making excuses and work hard at every session. I’d much rather be admired for being a hard worker with a great attitude, than someone that hits like a truck or gets lots of points.

J Pepps is just one of VDL’s amazingingly awesome skaters, stay tuned to hear from more!