Pick Your Team: The Hotrod Honeys

Captain of the 2010 champions Shank talks about building beyond '11

Shank, captain of the Texas Rollergirls' 2010 champions the Hotrod Honeys:
Shank, captain of the Texas Rollergirls' 2010 champions the Hotrod Honeys: "We do a lot of training for the future, and I think that's why the Hotrods have always been top tier." (Photo by Nadia Caffesse)

The Hotrod Honeys pulled off a seemingly impossible threepeat victory last July at the Texas Rollergirls' 2010 championship. With Mayor Lee Leffingwell blowing the whistle for Sunday's 2011 season opener, Hotrods' captain Shank talks about living with a derby target on your back.

The Score: Three championships in a row. How does it feel to have the biggest target in derby on your back?

Shank: It's definitely stressful at times. It's not only the three championships, but it's the players playing constantly that excel past what they've already done, and bringing in new girls who expect that, 'Hotrods, we're the best team ever' sort of thing. So it's a lot of work.

TS: Was it a weird experience, going from the Hotrods and their perfect 2010 to a tough travel season for the Texecutioners?

S: The thing about the Hotrods is that it's a fun, fun team, and that's always been our shtick. Go out there, do a little of this, do a little of that, always have some fun. So I guess that was what sealed it last year, we had such a hard year with the Texies, we could go, 'Oh, we we can finally have fun and not take things too seriously.' It was like the Texies was our full time office job, and the Hotrods were our creative project.

TS: The sport of roller derby is still evolving, and it seems it's getting faster. You look at leagues like Rocky Mountain and Oly, and the emphasis is on pace. Is that affecting play at the league level?

S: Personally, I thank god that strollerderby is over. It's no fun to watch, it's no fun to play, and it's more fun to hit somebody going faster. I hated it, and I think its' great that it's getting faster again because that's what Texas has always been about. We welcome it back, and our training has really stepped up. Our endurance is looking great, we're going to the gym and everyone is on weight plans. So I think just the overall talent within the league means it's going to be incredible in that first game, watching how far everyone has progressed: Not only in their smarts, but in raw, brute strength.

TS: How's the league changed this year, and what is the Hotrod plan to defend against the new-look opposition?

S: I think that the league has got some really amazing skaters this year. I know it's probably from an insider's point of view, but we're so even on talent throughout the teams that every single bout is going to be challenging. We want to keep our title, absolutely, but more importantly it's a year for us to bring up our skaters that you haven't seen yet, like Vargas [Grrl] and Olympia and Hauss [the Boss]. And then our new girls, Mike [Killah] and ICE and Maso [Kiss], can be fantastic skaters. So I think that's our goal this year, to make them into the awesome, amazing Hotrods we know they can be.

TS: Let's talk about the big rivalry. Last year, the Hustlers were your number one threat, and this year they're looking just as tough, if not tougher.

S: The Hustlers for sure have always been a big challenge. You've got Belle Starr, you've got Curvette, Molotov [M. Pale]. They're like our sisters on the Texies, so we all know what they threat they are. Not only that, look at the [Honky Tonk Heartbreakers]. They've got Sarah Hippel, they've got Devil Grrl, tons of really great new girls. And then the Hell Marys, they've got Phil and Dagger coaching, which is always a blessing because they've got two of the greatest derby minds I've ever seen. Then you've got Smarty Pants, and Luce [Bandit] who is just a jammer phenom. Everyone's got mad talent.

TS: So what's the big difference between the '10 Hotrods and the '11 Hotrods?

S: We have a bigger playing team this year. We really want to bring up the sophmores. So there'll be a lot of new faces. A lot of new jammers. A lot of new blockers who are doing a little jamming. We want the title, so we're going to use every aspect of the team.

TS: How do you balance the key players who have made you number one three times with building for the future?

S: It's not all about winning all the time. It's about winning at certain things. We want to win at training our new girls. We want to win at taking the girls from scratch, who had barely joined the rec league, and we want to mold them into roller derby champions who will go on to join the Texecutioners or run the league or run WFTDA [the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.] We're making steps now for the team that's always fierce, so two years from now, when everyone's retired, we're not like, 'What do we do without our veterans?' because we've got all these kick-ass people we've been building up over the years. We do a lot of training for the future, and I think that's why the Hotrods have always been top tier.

Texas Rollergirls season opener, Feb. 20, 5pm (doors 4.30pm.) Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. $12-$15, kids under 12 free. www.texasrollergirls.org.

You can read interviews with skaters and coaches from the Hustlers, Hell Marys, and Honky Tonk Heartbreakers.

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Hotrod Honeys, Hell Marys, Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, Devil Grrl, Molotov M. Pale, Olympia, Oly Rollers, Mike Killah

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