Champs 2012 Preview: Buzz Tight Rear, Minnesota RollerGirls
By Bill Mayeroff
Buzz doesn’t remember many details about the tournament.
The tournament is September’s WFTDA North-Central Regional Playoffs. Buzz is Buzz Tight Rear (though she introduced herself only as Buzz), blocker for the Minnesota RollerGirls. Now in her first season with Minnesota’s all-star team, North-Central Playoffs were Buzz’s first time playing on a major national stage.
That’s not to say Buzz doesn’t remember anything about the tournament. She remembers it was in a conference center in Niagara Falls, NY. But she doesn’t remember how many people were in the crowd. And when pressed, there was only one specific detail she could come up with.
“It had a lovely, polished floor,” Buzz said.
Buzz describes herself as an aggressive blocker who will smile when she delivers a solid hit. But surprisingly, in her two-and-a-half years playing roller derby, she’s never had a serious injury or even a serious scare.
“That’s a good thing,” Buzz said. “I’m kind of a weenie about pain.”
Though she started playing hockey at the ripe old age of 13, Buzz – now 24 – never thought she’d get to play in any sort of national sports tournament.
“I never thought I’d be on a sports team that would travel,” she said.
But if Buzz has her way, the rest of her life could involve a lot of traveling. She graduated the University of Wisconsin at Madison with degrees in international studies and Latin American studies.
“I wanted to work in an embassy,” she said, adding that she’d prefer that embassy to be in Ecuador or Peru.
Though she now has an idea of the path she wants to follow, even when she graduated college, Buzz wasn’t sure.
“I did Americorps for a year,” she said. “That was in Madison. I ran a career center for a year. “I thought I wanted to be a teacher and then I tutored for a year and then I didn’t want to be a teacher.”
But it was in Madison that Buzz, who relocated to Minnesota about a year ago, discovered roller derby. A coworker, she said, brought up derby and thought Buzz might enjoy it.
“I was like, ‘I like to hit people. I like to skate,’” she said.
The rest, as the proverbial “they” say, is history.
After a season playing derby in Madison, Buzz moved to Minnesota and tried out for Minnesota’s All Stars in April. Her first bout as an All Star, she said, was an experience that was at once terrifying and vaguely familiar.
“It was really fun and really scary,” she said. “It was kind of like that first day of college.”
Another thing she discovered is that major tournament-level derby is very different from derby played at the home-team level. Derby played in tournaments, Buzz said, is more about controlling the pack, rather than massive hits – a fact that sometimes frustrates the self-described aggressive blocker.
“Sometimes I just want to go and I just want to lay a good hit on someone,” she said. “If I lay a really good hit, it makes me smile.”
Though she’s the first in her family to get into derby, Buzz hopes she’s not the last. She’d like to see her younger sister start skating soon, she said.
“I’m trying to get her into roller derby,” she said. “She’d be really good at it.”
Buzz said that while derby takes up much of her free time, she’s lucky to have a work schedule that she can create around derby – a luxury not enjoyed by everyone on her team.
“A lot of the girls on the team, they use up all their vacation days,” she said. “I’ve been very lucky.”