Skater Profile

Gotham Girls Roller Derby

Skater Profile: Double Clutch of the Brooklyn Bombshells

by: Thomas Gerbasi
August 31, 2010

Watch Double Clutch in Long Island on Saturday, September 4th, as the Wall Street Traitors compete against seven other New York State squads in the Empire Skate Showdown.

Double Clutch hits the track again on Saturday night, September 11th at Hunter College at the Gotham Girls' intraleague battle between the Brooklyn Bombshells and the Manhattan Mayhem.  (Tickets at www.ggrdtix.com.)

 

Double Clutch’s Derby Addiction
By Thomas Gerbasi

The fight is won or lost, far away from witnesses.  It is won behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.  - Muhammad Ali

One of oldest adages in sports, one plastered on chalkboards and on beat-up cardboard signs in locker rooms across the world, is that championships are won in the off-season.

Brooklyn Bombshells blocker / jammer Double Clutch knows this better than most after competing in a variety of marathons, triathlons, and bodybuilding competitions, so when she completed her rookie season in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, there wasn’t going to be an off-season resting on the sidelines. It was back to the track.

Double Clutch (center) mixes it up with the Bronx Gridlock in May 2010.  Photo: Brendan McMullen

Above: Double Clutch (center) mixes it up with the Bronx Gridlock in May 2010.  Photo: Brendan McMullen

“Derby has become my life,” said Double Clutch, who will be in action over the next two weeks for  both the Wall Street Traitors (September 4th) and the Bombshells (September 11th).  “I’m trying to get better every practice and even in the off-season, I didn’t take an off-season. I made the journey out to New Jersey and I would go speed skating every Friday night because I needed more time on my skates. I needed to get that proper derby form and try to get better agility.”  [Weekly public speed training sessions are held at Inline Morristown.]

Going from inline skates to quads also proved to be a challenge for Double Clutch during the 2009 season, and though she came from a competitive sports background, getting up to speed on the team aspect of derby took some getting used to as well.

“I thought coming from this athletic background that I had that I would be a better derby player in my first season, and the balance is just so different,” she said. “That’s why I went to speed skating in the off-season. It just wasn’t coming as easily as I thought it would for me. Also, I suffered a bit last year because I came from an individual sports background. I did marathons and triathlons and body building and that’s all on your own, so I did struggle with partnering up and understanding that you can only do things with finesse with partners.”

This year though, the change is evident, both for fans watching from the outside, and for Double Clutch herself, as she’s become a key member of both her squads.

Double Clutch clamps down on B. Zerk during May's Bronx/Brooklyn bout.  Photo: Brendan McMullen

Above: Double Clutch gets in B. Zerk's lap during May's Bronx/Brooklyn bout.  Photo: Brendan McMullen

“I can skate better and I actually get the strategy,” she said when asked the difference between last season and her 2010 campaign. “I do realize that as a derby player that you cannot do it alone. You don’t want to go in for a big hit because usually that jammer can read you and you’re gonna whiff. [Bronx jammer] Bonnie Thunders can juke right past you and glide on by. But for me, derby is the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life, so all the bruises, sprains, and whatever, are worth it. Plus, the camaraderie within the league is amazing, we’re all friends at the end of the day, it’s good fun, and everyone takes it so seriously because we are true athletes.”

In 2010, she hasn’t missed an opportunity to hit the track in an effort to get even better. This was never more evident than in late June, when she played in two Traitors bouts and two challenge bouts in one weekend during the East Coast Extravaganza in Pennsylvania. The highlight? Competing under the pseudonym "Menachem Down" during a playful "Jews vs. Goys" exhibition match and getting props from the play-by-play announcer for a particularly big hit.

“I took the jammer out, and it was legal and amazing,” she smiled. “They’re like, ‘That was Menachem Down and that’s exactly what she’s doing.’”

Double Clutch and teammate Carmen Monoxide close the 'elevator doors' on an unlucky Bronx jammer.  Photo: Tod Seelie / Metromix

Above: Double Clutch and teammate Carmen Monoxide close the 'elevator doors' on an unlucky Bronx jammer.  Photo: Tod Seelie / Metromix

But if one bout sounds grueling enough, four must be pure torture. But for the former marathoner, conditioning is one of her strong points.

“That’s how it does help,” she said of her past athletic exploits and how they apply to derby. “I have fantastic endurance. I also have really strong legs from running so many years, so I have a natural strength to me.”

Double Clutch at the SheROX triathlon benefitting ovarian cancer research (Philadelphia, 2007)

Above: Double Clutch at the SheROX triathlon benefitting ovarian cancer research (Philadelphia, 2007)

Yet despite her athletic success in her pre-derby days, she has put her running shoes away in favor of a one hundred percent commitment to life on the track.

“I’m all-in derby. I’ve given up the other stuff.”

That doesn’t mean she’s given up everything in her civilian life though, as she still works full-time and has also converted a fellow runner and skater – her husband Elliot – to the world of derby.

“My husband is also a tri-athlete, and he ran a marathon, and when I was ‘fresh meat’, he found himself home all the time by himself – he was a classic derby widow,” she laughs.

“He and I met inline skating on the streets of Manhattan, so we had mutual interest in these sports,” she continues. “And he saw how enthused I was and how much I loved this. He checked it out, thought it was pretty cool and I said ‘you know New York has a men’s team?’ So he borrowed someone’s skates, liked it, ordered his own skates, and he’s been doing it a year now, playing on the New York Shock Exchange.”

This weekend, the husband and wife derby duo will be on the same track, as the Wall Street Traitors and New York Shock Exchange both travel to Old Bethpage, NY for the Empire Skate Showdown, and if that’s not the epitome of togetherness, what is? But it’s just another part of the evolution process for the skater known as Double Clutch, who has found in derby what she’s been looking for athletically her entire life.

Jamming for the Wall Street Traitors in March against Tucson.  Photo: Aengus Anderson

Above: Jamming for the Wall Street Traitors in March against Tucson.  Photo: Aengus Anderson

“It’s really addictive,” she said. “I have never had so much fun. When I was a marathon runner, that was my thing and I got that runner’s high all the time. When I did my triathlon, you set this goal, you do it, and it’s a sense of accomplishment. But in derby, I think it’s the athleticism and the actual intricacies of the game. When somebody looks at it for the first time, they don’t understand the scoring, but it’s quite simple once you break it down and actually get it. But learning all the rules and coming together as a team and gelling, and the camaraderie, it’s great, great fun. And there’s also hitting and knocking somebody down, and knowing that you can block and slow somebody down or get in their way, and legally do that, it’s fantastic.”

And as far as she’s concerned, the best is yet to come.

“I’m hoping that if this year isn’t quite my season to stand out, that next year for sure, I’m going to be amazing.”