Roller derby jammer Samara Pepperell, aka Lady Trample, on why there’s still so much for her team to do after winning the world cup. By Alana Schetzer .

Jammer class: Lady Trample, 26, roller derby skater

My team just won the Hydra Trophy [the 2017 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Championship], becoming the first non-US team to take it home. It’s amazing. The team’s been working towards it for a very long time, they’ve been competing in the US for five years and I’ve been with them for two years.

I moved over from New Zealand to join them, so I’ve only been on the journey for the past two seasons but the amount of growth in the team during that time is just insane. Not only did we win the Hydra cup, we won it without a doubt. Sometimes those championship games can be tight, which could have been more exciting for the crowd, but for us, we just completely annihilated the opposition and that was very rewarding.

The US teams were pretty good sports about losing for the first time. I think they were really excited for us and because we won in such a way that was completely undisputed, I don’t think anyone felt robbed.

The teams that we played against wanted to win just as badly as we did, but one of the cool things about our sport is that we are all unpaid athletes who dedicate all of our time and energy to this sport. So, at the end of it, we congratulate each other. We’re super competitive but we also have a lot of respect for each other.

To top it all off, I was named MVP of the entire tournament. It was huge honour. A huge part of that is attributed to the team and our performance. My teammates make my job very easy and we have some fantastic coaches this year who have given us some great feedback, so my personal growth has been massive.

Despite all that, there’s still so much to do in roller derby after winning the world cup. We now go into defence mode; we have to protect our position and plan to keep the cup in Australia. At the tournament, a lot of our strategy was brand new and we didn’t even use it until the final game, so we brought some new things to the table that other teams will now be using as the basis for their own attacks. Therefore we have to continue to innovate.

A lot of us also play for our national teams, so myself and two others play for the New Zealand roller derby team, others play for Team Australia and one plays for the US. Next year we separate and play against each other in our respective national teams.

I stayed in the US for a while following the Hydra Trophy – there are actually quite a few opportunities in roller derby. I run a business, Chicks in Bowls, that turns your everyday roller skates into skate park skates, so I’ve been meeting with groups of skaters who associate themselves with Chicks in Bowls. I met up with some of them in Philadelphia, then I went to New York City and then I did some skate coaching in St Louis and some roller derby coaching.

Roller derby has always been a very feminist sport but it’s changing and now men are entering the sport. The roller derby community is sadly smaller at the moment. When it first came out, it was very theatrical and it was very much about the costumes and a hypersexualised sort of sport. Now it’s become more athletic and competitive, that’s changed. Men have joined and we compete against the local men’s team every fortnight. Most of us are happy to jump on the tracks, whether it be male or female.

The name Lady Trample came from a long line of tradition in roller derby. When you start, you choose a name and a lot of the names are puns and I really liked the Disney film Lady and the Tramp growing up. My style of skating is generally pretty graceful, but then I like to trample my opponents down.

There’s a big difference between Lady Trample and Samara. I like playing under the name Lady Trample; I’m being a different version of myself. It’s like playing a character. Putting on my uniform and playing under Trample is a lot of fun and it’s the one non-serious thing about a sport that I take seriously.


This week’s highlights…

Cricket: WBBL – Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades

Saturday, 1.45pm (AEDT), North Sydney Oval

Basketball: WNBL – Sydney Uni Flames v Perth Lynx

Saturday, 3pm (AEDT), Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney

NBL – Sydney Kings v Brisbane Bullets

Saturday, 5.30pm (AEDT), Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney

Soccer: W-League – Melbourne City v Canberra United

Sunday, 4.30pm (AEDT), AAMI Park, Melbourne

A-League – Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners
Sunday, 7pm (AEDT), AAMI Park, Melbourne

Cricket: The Ashes – Australia v England, 3rd Test, day 1

Thursday, 10.30am (AWST), WACA Ground, Perth

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 9, 2017 as "Jammer class". Subscribe here.

Alana Schetzer
is a journalist and co-founder of Women in Media.

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