Atom Bombshell laces up her skates for two teams in the Halifax Roller Derby Association: Las Bandidas Locas (league) and the Harbour Grudges (travel squad). I know she’s a happy human who studies hard, loves a quality brew, and adores glitter. But I wanted to find out more about two serious issues: the derby injury that took her out of this season both physically and mentally, and her media involvement in addressing the St. Mary’s University “rape chant.”
In life and on the track, she’s light, lively and sets a pace tough to follow. This is Atom Bombshell.
Pepe LePunch: Where was your neighbourhood growing up?
Atom Bombshell: I’m from a small, isolated railroad community in Northern Ontario called Hornepayne – about 1,100 km northwest of Toronto, for perspective.
PLP: What was your athletic history before joining roller derby?
AB: I figure skated from the time I was four until I broke my ankle as a young teen and never went back. I usually sat out in gym class and didn’t really have much interest in organized sports until derby.
PLP: With not much interest in sports, what led you into roller derby?
AB: My interest was piqued as I was living in Minneapolis and saw the community surrounding the MN Rollergirls. I was only 16 at the time, though, and had to wait another two years until I was both back in Canada and old enough to join a league. I started out with the London Violet Femmes in London, Ontario, and shortly after turning 18 I was playing regional tournaments in the London/Kitchener/Toronto area.
PLP: You’re a jammer. What’s your thought process as you approach the back of the pack?
AB: My thoughts are usually focused on where the other jammer is, because her position determines what my approach will be.
PLP: What’s your strength or best attribute/move out on the track?
AB: I’m speedy and nimble. I’m not too difficult to knock over; the hard part is trying to catch me.
PLP: I believe you might be the youngest captain in the region. What exactly earned you co-captain status of Las Bandidas Locas?
PLP: You’re enrolled at SMU in Halifax. What are you studying?
AB: I double-major in anthropology and criminology, and I’m finishing up a diploma in forensic science as well.
PLP: Why are you pursuing so many interests?
AB: I love studying such a diverse range because every day is different – one day I’m out digging up bones, the next I’m playing with chimp skeletons, and the next I’m out in the community doing ethnographic research on labour.
PLP: Speaking of community, you were very involved in the SMU chant debacle. What radio/TV press did you do?
AB: Oh, wow, that’s a big question. Haha. I did about three or four regional press interviews a day, so I don’t remember all the specifics. The more memorable stuff was the interview with MacLean’s magazine, The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, and a radio show panel for a talk show out in Vancouver.
PLP: Why do you feel people should be more engaged in addressing an event such as that chant?
AB: Because it’s a systemic issue that affects everyone, not an isolated incident or just a campus problem. The culture surrounding rape and victim-blaming and the flippant attitude towards them can ensnare anyone, and it’s a really easy attitude to fall into.
PLP: You suffered a derby-related head injury in March. What happened?
AB: It happened in a split second. It was an accident in practice. I landed hard on my tailbone and my neck snapped forward, giving me severe whiplash and rattling my brain pretty hard.
PLP: I watched you play at Slay of Fundy in June 2013 and didn’t suspect anything. Do you still feel repercussions from the concussion?
AB: I do. My mental health has certainly suffered, so I’ve been extremely cautious and follow up with my doctor as often as I can. Slay was actually my wake-up call to be more careful. I didn’t even play my games in full because I got uncharacteristically anxious and really easily frustrated, but I see a therapist to work through some of those symptoms. Marc Henwood actually captured a really crazy picture of me kneeling and crying on the track that I still can’t really look at, but it’s comforting when I’m reminded that I actually got up from it and continued playing.
PLP: What challenges confront you after a serious injury like this?
AB: It’s been a long process of recovery, and I’m slated to return to practices this month. For me, it’s been the combination of keeping up with my doctor, my therapist, my physiotherapist and my coaches that’s kept me accountable and healthy and working towards coming back fully. I played two for-fun bouts with the Halifax Misfits over the summer and seemed to be making a lot of progress, so I’m hoping to be back in full swing for the next Winter Warpath.
PLP: I really enjoy the Halifax-Fredericton games as they’re close competitions. Do you have a favourite rival team to play? Or player?
AB: My favourite team on the east coast to play would have to be Fredericton [Capital City Rollers], actually. I’ve faced them on three occasions, and I’m always both impressed and terrified. I love skating against Édith Paf, because she’s a really intense opponent and always challenges me, and because our off-track relationship is so friendly that the dynamic is really always fun.
PLP: The HRDA players always seem so positive and friendly, even on the jam line with opponents. I often wonder what you guys say to opponents out there during a bout.
AB: We’re usually discussing the afterparty and how we’re going to be the victors of it. Or, I’m discussing how badly I can’t wait to eat pizza and watch TV at the hotel!
PLP: I appreciate your time and candor, Atom Bombshell. As always, the afterparty in these interviews is the 5 in 25.
• 5 in 25 •
Questions? 5 Answers ≤ 25 words.
PLP: (#1) Can you tell about a couple of your hobbies or after-work activities?
AB: I embroider vulgar rap lyrics onto throw pillows sometimes. I like to go dancing and fishing and enjoy late nights in the lab.
PLP: (#2) What’s something derby players don’t know about you?
AB: I make all my own beauty products in my kitchen. It’s why I smell so pretty on the jam line.
PLP: (#3) What is your favourite food and/or drink?
AB: I love fancy burgers and birthday cake and bitter, hoppy beer. Preferably all at once.
PLP: (#4) What’s a favourite song or album?
AB: I can’t stop listening to Childish Gambino’s Camp album right now.
PLP: (#5) Which well-known figure do you most admire?
AB: Jane Goodall is a badass.