Ana Slays Ya and The Tornado Sirens - LIKDIT! #2

Ana Slays Ya: pivot, blocker, and occasional jammer
photo credit Michael Guio
I am proud to say that the second installment of this blog's newest series LIKDIT (Ladies I Know Doing Interesting Things) features Ana Slays Ya and the rest of her teammates on Indy's own Roller Derby team, The Tornado Sirens. I was inspired to feature these kick ass ladies when I realized that the Tornado Sirens are having a hometown bout this Saturday, March 24th...and it just so happens that:

1. I personally know Ana Slays Ya. Me, actually knowing the lady, is one of my requirement for being featured in LIKDIT!. Ana Slays Ya is a fellow molecular biologist that I've had the pleasure of working with or around for...well I guess probably almost 10 years now. I remember back in the day when she decided to try out for the Tornado Sirens. It was, it seems, a fantastic decision.

2. I'm a Roller Derby fan. You may have heard about or seen the fakey roller derby of old, but the modern, grassroots roller derby that has popped up and grown rapidly all over this country is far from that. The women of roller derby are athletic and skilled, with outrageous derby pseudo-names who work their asses off after work to train and travel and bring joy to fans everywhere.

Personally, I was hooked the moment I saw my first match. It is fun, fast-paced, athletic, and all with a irreverent, wild kind of flair. It's not slow like golf or baseball, and it's not 1000 hours long like football, but it is aggressive, full contact, full speed, skilled sport. It's just plain good to watch. It takes a minute to get a handle on the rules, but they aren't crazy complicated, and when you start to see the strategy and plays, then you'll really get into it.

I was lucky enough to see both the Naptown Roller Girls league (started in 2006) and Ana Slays Ya taking some of their first steps in the world of roller derby, and like I said, I loved it back then.. What is really cool though, is how much they have grown and advanced in the past 6 years. The team became a member of the National Flat Track Derby Association, the governing body of the sport, and frankly, they've just gotten really good. I didn't know when I first saw them how much they could advance in skill, strategy, power, agility, and speed, but in their first few years, I watched them growing better by leaps and bounds. I have to admit that I haven't been able to get to many bouts the last 2 years, but I hear their growth has not slowed. I almost can't imagine how awesome they would be if I went to the bout this Saturday (of course I can't, though, because I have prior commitments - which seems to always be the case lately). I mean, now they even have a competing junior varsity team (The Warning Belles) and a newbie team (The Third Alarm) where they can pull seasoned players from - which brings me to the 3rd point.

Photo by Marc Lebryk
3. The Tornado Sirens (plus the 2 other teams, the refs, coaches, fans, etc that make up the Naptown Roller derby League) are doing some interesting stuff. Like I said, this league was created from the ground up in 2006, and outside of busting ass training as athletes, they bust ass on marketing and business too. They have a slew of hip sponsors. They raise money for great charities every season. They have great merchandise, like sweet calendars, and they appear all over the city for events. I just saw them rolling it out for the Indy St. Patty's Day Parade. As a result of all their work and savvy, they pull in huge crowds. They busted out of their first venue, and now play at the Pepsi Coliseum on the State Fair Grounds - which is a big venue and where our NHL team plays. All of this was done by people who have jobs and kids and other things going on in their lives, but they've done it for the love. They love playing the game, watching it, and bringing a badass, exciting female sport into the cultural consciousness. Everyone who's contributed to this should be very proud. Maybe not everyone in Indy has heard about or attended a Naptown Roller derby bout, but I think a whole hell of a lot have, and that makes me proud to be from Naptown, baby!

I hear that when roller derby teams from other cities play here, they are often amazed at our crowds; which I think is a a shame, because we play some pretty good teams, and they should have cities that are behind their bad asses. If you are not from Indy, then find your local derby team and go. There is probably one near you, and I promise, it's worth getting into. If you are from Indy, go to their bout Saturday...or the one in April...or at least tell some friends about them. I think the Tornado Sirens are a Naptown Treasure - and we should treat them as such. So here's to Ana Slays Ya and her team having a great bout, a great crowd, and a win this Saturday!

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