unshine gets high praise, MVP vote from Throttle Rockets

unshine slips past Panda Beer on her scoring pass. Photo by John Stamets

by Jim Almy

After the final whistle in their 190-155 win over Grave Danger a week ago Saturday, March 15 at KeyArena, both captains of the victorious Throttle Rockets spent some time to find Grave Danger jammer unshine (#52) and tell her they thought she had a great game.

High praise coming from a couple of jammers, Sintripetal Force (#1618) and Luna Negra (#911) who know how to pile up points in their own right.

And high praise reinforced when the Throttle Rockets team voted unshine the Most Valuable Player from the opposing team.

It is her first MVP selection since she began in roller derby in 2007. That year she skated for Jet City Rollergirls in Everett, WA and did so for five seasons. That league’s  proximity with Rat City Rollergirls’ and its teams led to a fair amount of exposure to each other and led to unshine moving to RCRG in 2012.

She considers this her first legitimate MVP award. “In a for-realsies game,” she said. “Last summer I was awarded MVP in an ad hoc/pickup game — the Hungry Hungry Hippocrites vs. Overbeaters Anonymous.”

At Jet City she was considered more of a utility player, though her focus has always been on jamming. It goes to her strengths.

“I am a fast skater and I’ve more recently become better able to plow my way through walls. I am always working on overall agility and on seeing the help my blockers are giving me,” unshine explained. “The strategy that works best for me is having strong blockers on my team who can contain the other jammer right away. This usually allows me to create the spaces I need to get out of the pack. In roller derby, great defense is the foundation for great offense!”

When asked to rate her toughest opponents unshine related the sort of coaching perspective that revealed her as a true student of the game.

Photo by James McDaniel
unshine races out of the pack, and can often be seen skating with her knee brace to protect her from re-injury. Photo by James McDaniel

“In terms of Rat City teams, each one has their own exceptionally strong skaters. Nobody likes going up against a Nelson/Rumble combo (Full Nelson, #123, and Rumble Fist, #9, from Derby Liberation Front), or a Missile/Rattle combo (Missle America, #321, and Rattleskate, #16, from the Throttle Rockets), a K.Beezy/Carmen combo (#187 and Carmen Getsome, #12, from Grave Danger), or a Moe/Sunny combo (Moe YaDown, #14, and Sun Shiner, #36, from the Sockit Wenches) — but it’s great teamwork on the part of each of their respective teams that allows them to be their most effective.  Each team plays the game just slightly differently– so yes, I would say it’s not so much that any one team gives me fits; I try to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of them all.”

unshine generally goes by the name Kate and is a librarian. In the past she was a competitive swimmer and skier, but devotes all her athletic endeavors to roller derby these days. With that has come more than a fair share of injuries, including a torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), herniated discs, a few concussions, and a severe arm break that required surgery, a plate and eight pins. That injury led to another and six weeks after the arm surgery she was back on the table having a thumb extensor tendon repaired. All were followed by weeks or months of physical therapy. She advises not to believe anyone who says that a person doesn’t need their PCL.

All is repaired this season. She skates with a knee brace. She knows how to use her blockers. She brings years of experience to the track. More MVP awards are sure to come.

For tickets to the next bout at KeyArena, go HERE