Skater of the Month: Cannonball Iztik
How did you find out about roller derby?
I live around the corner from San Jose Skate, which has a huge banner hanging in the front that says, "SAN JOSE SKATE - HOME OF THE SILICON VALLEY ROLLER GIRLS." Eventually I figured, what the heck, let's see what it's all about. And here I am.
What kind of skating skills or athletic abilities did you have before starting derby?
I've played just about everything competitively: volleyball, soccer, badminton, Parker Kempo, basketball, softball...I was heavily involved in field hockey for several years, and played for the Futures, which is an Olympic development league. Unfortunately, I got severe shin splints and chrondromalacia in both knees, which stopped me from participating in any sports that involve running. I moved on to cycling, which is low-impact for joints, and finally roller derby. But all that previous activity doesn't compare to roller derby. This is by far the most intense, athletic sport I've ever played.
How did you derive your derby name?
I'm a huge klutz. Epic. Legendary, even. My friends gave me the nickname Cannonball because of it, and Cannonball Iztik is a combination of Cannon and Ballistic. It also sounds like "Cannibalistic," which is a plus.
What is your primary position?
Blocker. I'd rather hit a target than be a target.
What is your greatest strength as a skater? What do you contribute most to the team?
I don't give up. Ever. Even when I should. Roller derby is not a sport that's easy for me. I have no coordination, grace, or endurance, which means that I have to work very, very hard at every practice. Luckily I'm part of an amazing, encouraging team, which makes it easier to plow through the tough parts.
What was your worst injury, and how did you earn it?
I completely ruptured my ACL last year and continued to skate for 8 months. That sucked. It was my first time back on skates after a bout of pneumonia, and I'd probably lost a good amount of muscle mass, but decided to skate anyway. I scrimmaged at 100%, and my ACL was a casualty of that bad decision. I finally had ACL reconstruction last week and am already walking without crutches, so hopefully within the year I'll be able to get back up to fighting shape.
What do you contribute to SVRG off the track?
Since I've been injured for so long in my derby career I've had the opportunity to work a lot behind the scenes, mostly doing bout production for SVRG's home games. This year I was volunteer coordinator, as well as day-of coordinator for a couple of bouts. That really kept me busy and engaged with the league!
How do you spend the non-derby part of your life? What other hobbies and interests do you have?
My free time is usually spent buried ankle-deep in metal CDs, cover art, magazines, flyers, and recently vinyl albums. Death metal, black metal, thrash, doom, sludge, symphonic, poly-rhythmic, battle, folk, NWOBHM, technical, progressive, whatever...I listen to it all. Having recently moved to San Francisco, I've found a small but true group of underground metalheads, and it's made me a very happy Cannonball.
Other than that, I'm a graduate student heading for a Master's in Special Education with an emphasis in moderate/severe disabilities. I'm currently working as a behavior specialist, and a bicycle mechanic when possible.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give women interested in playing roller derby?
Don't give up. Never, never, never, never, never give up. There are plenty of women who will pass you by without seeming to break a sweat, but do not give up. Derby is one of those few sports where greatness is based on more than ability. It's based on guts and perseverance as well.