Modern roller derby started in Texas in the early 2000s and, for the most part, has been a very “do-it-yourself” sport. Teams typically trained themselves, learning best practices as they went along. More recently, though, many teams have chosen coaches to lead their training and provide guidance.
The Lansing Derby Vixens have had at least one dedicated coach since 2011, starting with current charter team coach Ryan Knott. When the league expanded to include the Capital Corruption, former referee Pete Broderick (PBR) stepped up to coach the team.
PBR left the team in the middle of last season as his family moved to Denver, CO. The league selected Sarah Erwin (Money Do) as his replacement. 2014 is her first full season at the helm.
Money is very driven to make each player reach their best self by developing their strengths. She wants each player to push themselves and get the most out of each practice. “Work hard, play hard” is her motto. Recently, we sat down with her to learn a little more about her as she prepares her team for the new season.
What made you want to be a coach?
I’ve been around the Vixens since the beginning and seen the league grow from its infancy. There have always been passionate, driven people in the league making it live. I loved the energy of it all. When the coaching opportunity came up, I was already in love with derby and wanted to contribute more. I thought of the many lessons I’ve learned in athletics and how many skaters hadn’t played an organized sport before. There was so much I could contribute. Also, almost all of my coaches have been men. I love being a woman coaching a women’s sport.
What did you do before derby?
I’ve always been in athletics. I played basketball, volleyball, and softball back in school. I have a third-degree black belt in Okinawan karate. I’ve run half-marathons and triathlons. I still run adventure races.
Tell us about your derby name.
My derby name is Money-Dō. Note the line over the o. Dō is Japanese and means “way or philosophy of”, which matched well with my martial arts background. The money part is from my position at the time I got my name as the Vixens’ sponsorship chair. Dō is pronounced “dough”, which fits as well!
You have been involved in many sports. How is roller derby like other sports?
The closest mainstream sport to me is basketball. Like basketball, derby requires smart players that can organize their team and communicate quickly. The best players have such a deep understanding of the game that their reactions become almost instinct.
I’m still struck by how fast a sport derby is. That jammer comes around the track about every 10 seconds or so, maximum. It’s intense!
What advice would you give someone who wants to join roller derby?
For the people who are drawn to derby, it becomes a passion. Do yourself a favor and check out the sport. Come down to a practice and watch. Go to a bout and soak up the atmosphere. Watch some real derby bouts on wftda.tv.