By LeBron Shames

In “Between Jams” the Chicago Bruise Brothers interview top players in roller derby from around the United States and the World.This week we caught up with #12 DeBella DeBall, a blocker with the Texas Rollergirls.

After starting five years ago in TXRG’s well-known rec league, DeBella was drafted before working her way up the ranks to become a member of the Texecutioners, TXRG’s top ranked A-team. In November 2013 DeBella played in the WFTDA championship final against Gotham.

Tell us how you got involved playing roller derby in the first place and how the ride has been.

My derby career started because my father insisted;  he was coaching a home team for the Queen City Roller Girls, out of Rainbow Rink. My dad thought it would be a perfect fit for me based on my background in speed and artistic skating. He felt the progression to roller derby would be a natural one.

Derby has been an amazing ride for me. My husband is active duty military and over the last few years has spent some time away from home. Derby naturally filled my time and allowed me to meet some strong, confident and smart women. During this current season, I have been blessed to skate with Team Texas and I will be coaching Team South Africa in the Roller Derby World Cup. They are a very talented group of skaters that are hungry to learn more derby; I can’t wait to see how much they soak in during their time state side.

As a Texecutioner you were part of only of two teams that came within 50 points of Gotham in recent years. How has derby gotten more competitive and how has that helped your own game?

The Texecutioners are the hardest working women I know; they are my friends, my teammates and challenge me every day to be the best skater I can be. Our drive and ability to adapt to the game allows us to adjust and revamp our focus. We have some incredibly smart women who are creating the curve in modern-day derby: Sarah HipelBarbara AmbushPolly GoneSmarty Pants, and Fifi Nomenon . Last year was one of the most exciting for me in derby: our league leased a practice space that allowed for us to practice more as a team.

As far as helping my game, my teammates challenge me to work on basic skills and executing them quickly and effectively. I want to be agile so I can be devastating with my footwork AND size. My free time is spent watching and YouTube, breaking down my own skills and those of my opponents. My goal is to find a new skater each time I watch and breakdown the skill(s) they have that I’d like to add to my tool box.

You also just made Team Texas. What do you plan to get out of playing derby for your home state?

Making Team Texas for State Wars is really exciting. I get to learn from TJ Brinkley and many other skaters. For the first time I get to have Death By Chocolate (DBC) and Freight Train (All-Starts from Houston Roller Derby) on my team and not having to play against them. The State of Texas is a HUGE state full of talented skaters; I can’t wait to see how we come together to form a team. Assassination City, Dallas Derby Devils, North Texas, West Texas, San Antonio, Houston, Cowboy Capital, South Texas and Texas Rollergirls were some of the Leagues represented during our tryouts. It was a joy to see how we all came together during the scrimmage.

The Texecutioners have a reputation as a well-rounded team of players who both jam and block. What does Texas do differently to train great players?

During each practice, we practice both positions so those of us who typically jam will block, and vice versa. Each skater brings a different skill to the practice; and we use that to challenge each other. Many of us skate on more then one team, playing different positions on each. Some of us also compete in speed skating: Sonny Felter of Texas Speed is an amazing inspiration for myself and many members of our team.

We cross-train together and on our own.  The Texecutioners are a family, our league supports us which makes each step for growth that much more important.

You can find out more about the Texas Rollergirls here.