by LeBron Shames

Jonathan Rockey has been knee-deep in roller derby since before most men knew what a pace line was. As  a member of the New York Shock Exchange, the man known as Jonathan R. has been a huge advocate not only for the men’s game, but for roller derby in general. Just ahead of WFTDA Champs and Halloween, we caught up with the men’s World Cup MVP.

In the documentary “This is How We Roll” you talked about being skeptical of roller derby long ago when you first saw it. What was it that reeled you in back in the early days?  A for-profit traveling sports entertainment roller skating circus is a fine spectacle to enjoy. That was my perception of roller derby until I was asked to join Gotham Girls Roller Derby and told about the modern phenomenon as a grassroots movement of local leagues to develop a competitive sport. Thrilled to roll with this club, I figuratively said: “it would be my pleasure to share my roller skating love with y’all.”

As a team manager and bench coach within Gotham you’ve coached top players like Suzy Hotrod and Ana Bollocks. Talk about the inspiration these players gave you in building men’s roller derby from ground zero. The one and only Suzy Hotrod is a magical combination of style, class, and athleticism. She busted her butt behind the scenes D.I.Y.-style to help build this sport so you better go buy her t-shirt if you like roller derby.

The modest majesty, Ana Bollocks, constructs the blocking backbone of a team with sincerity and smarts. She selflessly gives it her all on and off the track. I am very thankful for their support and volunteer efforts in helping to bring the New York Shock Exchange Roller Derby league to life.


Rockey with NYSE coach Celtic Thunder (courtesy of Sean Hale)

Besides Gotham, who do you think will make a splash this weekend at Champs? Got any favorites? Any darkhorses for us to watch? On this spooky Halloween weekend of world class roller skating, I’ve got my eye on the flying purple people eaters of Rose City, the Zodiac Killers of Bay Area , the spring-heeled monsters of London, the viscous devils of Victoria, and, of course, all of my lovely inmates from the Gotham asylum.