by Jim Almy
When you start skating at six and play all the popular sports like basketball, softball, soccer, roller hockey, golf, tennis, and distance running all your life you can expect to be a qualified roller derby ace before you even step on the track.
With that background Yoko Onoudi’nt took to roller derby naturally and immediately, being selected the Most Valuable Player in her first derby bout in 2010 against Grave Danger. Last Saturday she was honored as MVP again, this time by the Throttle Rockets, after Derby Liberation Front (DLF) won the League Championship over the Rockets, 204-131.
The MVP honors are like bookends to her great derby career as the championship bout was her last — an MVP at the start and the finish. Even better, she says, because her retirement almost came at the end of the 2013 season.
“I was actually retiring last season after All-Stars finished but then I pulled a Brett Favre and decided to do one more home team season (and it did not disappoint). No particular reason other than it is time for new life adventures and I want to get out while my body is still intact,” said Ono.
Originally from the midwest, a friend in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who knew a referee for the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls League there, “told me I should try derby since I love sports and skating.” Since she began skating with the Rat City Rollergirls she has always been a member of DLF. “Smash the State for life!” she says.
Ono started her derby career as a jammer, but an injury led her to develop the blocking abilities that the rest of the league knows and respects. “I used to jam when I first started and didn’t know the rules or how to block. They would send me out and say ‘just get through the pack and we’ll tell you when to call it off.’ I think the most points I’ve ever scored in one jam was like 20 or 25. Then I tore my PCL, was away from skating for recovery, and when I came back I blocked a lot and was able to develop those skills.”
She credits her build for her success in both positions. “I’m taller and larger built. I can usually push my way through walls if I’m jamming. If I’m blocking I like to set screens for my jammers since I’m pretty sturdy. All of my opponents on Rat City are tough opponents. There is not a bout or a scrimmage where I don’t think ahead of time, this is going to be hard. Everyone on Rat City is so talented and competitive. It’s never easy.” The line play she brings to the game has become her forte. “Blocking has become one of my strengths. I’m a really level-headed skater so I definitely bring leadership and communication to the track when I’m skating. I’m not really that good at jamming anymore so that has become a weakness. Whenever I thought Dan (DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh) might look at me to jam I would try and avoid making eye contact!”
Ono, whose name is Kim Uildriks, works in healthcare administration. She says that she gets tons of support from friends and co-workers who come to her bouts. Her family in Michigan watch footage online. They were able to watch her skate last year in Milwaukee at the Nationals and that was “awesome!” she says.
Reflecting on her time with Rat City she recalled some of her high (or low) points in the league:
· I didn’t know what clothes to wear for derby so showed up to tryouts practice wearing blue jeans and had no toe stops.
· I am marrying one of the other MVPs from the last bout, Jerrica Kallio, in August.
· My favorite memory w/my DLF teammates: seeing the Rihanna concert from a private suite.
· My favorite RCRG skater/idol since day 1: Carmen Getsome.
She said she thought the Throttle Rockets only selected her as MVP just to be nice but if you saw the bout you’d understand there was solid ground for that selection. “I swore they only did it as an act of kindness since I’m retiring, but Luna and Trippy told me it was because I played an amazing game.” That’s the Throttle Rocket’s high powered scoring duo of Sintripetal Force and Luna Negra, two jammers who spent most of the championship trying with little success to get past Ono.
For tickets to the next bout at KeyArena 5/10, go HERE