Share this article

print logo

Meet the faces of Queen City Roller Girls

Spend any time around Queen City Roller Girls games and it becomes clear that every player is unique, and every participant — coaches, referees, scorekeepers — has a special personality. Here are introductions to four QCRG veterans.

Katie Bertel — a.k.a., Librawlian

Jammer, Lake Effect Furies

Occupation: Librarian

Hometown: Black Forest, Colo.

The ever-elusive jammer Katie Bertel, AKA Librawlian, breaks through Detroit Roller Derby blockers. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On discovering QCRG: “Some friends found out I played hockey growing up, and they insisted that roller derby would be up my alley. Before even making it to a game, I signed up. I love skating, and we're essentially playing rugby on skates; for me, it's impossible not to enjoy myself.”

On the strength of the QCRG community: “QCRG is like a second family. As soon as you join, you're immediately connected to this incredible community full of vibrant people. Plus, roller derby's commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and social justice issues is particularly important to me, and unheard of in other sports. Roller derby has redefined what's possible for women and others in sport.”

On playing for Team NY in the Battle of the All Stars (BOTAS) Tournament: “I joined Team NY three years ago. The competition is fierce, because you have so many derby players representing their states. We've won gold the past three years, so what's not to love?”

Let's roll, Buffalo: Queen City Roller Girls skate to a milestone

Danielle Thomas — a.k.a., Pepper Stix

Blocker, Lake Effect Furies

Occupation: Graphic Designer

Hometown: Depew

Danielle Thomas, AKA Pepper Stix, left, started roller skating as a kid. Here's she's talking to teammate Jessica Ghosen, AKA Blackrock Bruiser. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On getting started in roller derby: “I roller skated when I was a kid. Years later, my husband went to a game and told me, ‘You have to check this out.’ I signed up for a summer boot camp to learn the basics. I saw it as a challenge.”

On her husband’s involvement with the league: “He ran the production for a number of years; this is the first season where he’s a true spectator. He loves roller derby, and has been super supportive.”

On the camaraderie between players: “Everybody’s own team is closest, but every so often there’s a re-draft and you end up on different teams. There’s a lot of crossover; you meet people in boot camp and stay friends with them throughout. Everybody mingles and hangs out, and we work together to run games and serve on committees. It’s a true community.”

Crystal Muzacz — a.k.a., Bricks Hit-House

Co-coach, Lake Effect Furies

Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Lake Effect Furies co-coach Crystal Muzacz AKA Bricks Hit-House, speaks with player Danielle Thomas, AKA Pepper Stix, before a recent game. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On her start in roller derby: “When my family and I moved to Hawaii in 2011, I knew I needed a support system and a way to meet people. So I found Pacific Roller Derby, went through boot camp for new skaters — and met 40 new friends. And I feel like that’s how it is in pretty much any league you try out. When I found QCRG, I found my best friends.”

On finding the QCRG: “My husband is from Buffalo, and when we both got out of the military after Hawaii it was like, ‘OK, move to San Antonio or Buffalo?’ Texas is crazy hot, so we chose Buffalo. After we got here I knew I wanted to look for a league right away. Once you start playing, you’re either bit by the derby bug and you love playing, or you just want to watch from afar. I was bit by the bug crazy hard.”

On why she is currently coaching: “I got pregnant — we call that the 9-month injury in roller derby. I’ll be right back on the track after the baby is born. I actually tried to plan it around our season, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I have a 9-year-old son who loves roller derby, specifically the people.”

Lauren Tingco — a.k.a., Chickadeemolish

Blocker, Lake Effect Furies

Occupation: Ecology Instructor

Hometown: Castroville, Calif.

Lauren Tingco, AKA Chickadeemolish, is a blocker for the Lake Effect Furies. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On using her height as an advantage: “At 4’11”, I’m a little bit shorter than most of the other skaters, but my height is a benefit. I have a lower center of gravity, so it helps me as a blocker. I like that there’s a spot for me, and I can have a specialty.”

On playing for Team Philippines in the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup in Manchester, UK: “I couldn’t skate at all when I first joined, and now I’m in my seventh year, and skated in the World Cup. We ranked 17th out of 38 teams, and I got to travel in Europe. I even did some coaching in Paris.”

On her fellow QCRG skaters: "We're all very dedicated athletes who compete in this sport on our own time and mostly out of our wallet. We couldn't do this if we didn't love our teams and the sport. We train together, and we also study up and learn the rules because the sport is still advancing. And the skill level of our players is tremendous.”

There are no comments - be the first to comment