Rocky Mountain Rollergirl Assaultin’ Pepa is a real derby leader both on and off the track. As a key player on a championship team, the creative director of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), and founder of fiveonfive magazine, this woman has taken the derby world by storm.
Chief Gladiator: First of all, do you do anything that isn’t derby related?
Assaultin’ Pepa: I currently work as a freelance artist for an ad agency. Thankfully, I found a job that gives me the flexibility to work on fiveonfive magazine and still have time for league work and skating.
My life is very consumed by derby, though, and luckily I have some great friends on the league to hang out with. My boyfriend is also very supportive of derby which is great. I try to make time for my “non-derby” friends at least once a month, if possible.
CG: With all of these positions you have, it’s apparent that you’re very multi-talented—athletic, artistic and entrepreneurial. What is it about you that allows you to do all of these very different things so well?
AP: I don’t know about being multi-talented, but I do enjoy a lot of different things. I’ve always been the type of person who keeps busy all the time and tries to get as much done as I can. I have a hard time sitting still for too long.
CG: How long had you been involved in derby when you got the idea to start fiveonfive magazine?
AP: I started derby in 2005 and created the magazine in 2008 because I thought there was a need for easy to find, useful information about derby. For example, information about how to become a better skater and athlete and how to run and build a league business. Overall, I really want fiveonfive to contribute to the growth of the sport. If we all help each other, roller derby will continue to succeed.
CG: So we know you’re a graphic artist— if you started fiveonfive does this mean you’re a writer and editor too? You make a lot of us look quite incapable with all these talents (just kidding!)
AP: No, my background is in graphic design. We are so thankful to have so many people contact us with story ideas and it’s really those contributors who make the magazine what it is. We are pretty picky about content but almost everything we receive is a perfect fit for the magazine. Since our contributors are part of the derby community, they really know what skaters want to read about. Miss Jane Redrum (retired skater with Fort Wayne Derby Girls) is our editor. She has a background in magazine editing and is really good at it!
CG: Now, onto your next talent: graphic design! You not only do this as your day job, but also manage a team of designers as Creative Director of the WFTDA. Tell us about what it’s like to manage and design simultaneously.
AP: We have a great team of designers who really don’t need much managing. This means there’s more time just to work and be creative. I’ve done a few of WFTDA’s logos and ads, which is a lot of fun for me. I have both visual arts and marketing degrees, and have worked in the field for many years. I just try to make sure that everything is readable and easy on the eyes.
CG: We take it you do design work for fiveonfive too?
AP: Yes, I layout the magazine and do all marketing materials.
CG: Now onto the most important part and the reason that brought us here—derby! Tell us about your shining derby moments.
AP: Winning both the 2010 West Region Playoffs and the 2010 WFTDA Championships. The 2010 WFTDA Championships were in my home state of Illinois, so my dad was there to watch us win the Hydra. I can’t top that.
CG: As a leader off the track, do you feel the need to lead on the track as well?
AP: I’m pretty vocal on the track and like to take a leadership role when needed, but I’m also able to take direction and do whatever the team needs me to do.
CG: Because you hadn’t skated before trying derby, what would you say to others who are thinking of trying it and have no skating experience?
AP: Definitely try it! You won’t get the chance to find out how much you love it unless you try it. When I first started skating, I had no idea what I was doing and just had to ease into the sport. It was so new back then, so we were all learning together. Today it’s a little different for new skaters and not as easy to just jump in because the sport has evolved so much, but those of us who have been around for so long are able to teach new skaters and provide better training.
CG: Last (but certainly not least), how did you come up with your derby name?
AP: My boyfriend actually came up with it and I thought it was brilliant. My only concern was that my league mates would call me “Ass” for short, but luckily they call me “Pepa” (and just refer to me as “ass” behind my back).