Interviewee: Joanna Koskinen
Describe who the Helsinki Roller Derby All Stars are, what sets you apart, what defines you as a team, what is your team spirit? How would you describe your team to the tournament audience? What can they expect from you? Is there anything we can’t find out about you via your website or fb page? Fun Facts?
Helsinki Roller Derby Allstars is the oldest roller derby team in Finland (literally: our skaters’ average age is over 30). What defines us the most is the friendship and love between each other and for this sport. We fangirl each other constantly on and off the track.
Playing for Hydra has been one of the league’s goals since joining WFTDA in 2013, and with our smart and grown-up leadership one of our most essential goals in HRD Allstars has always been to be the best Team in WFTDA. We are lucky to have sincerely committed athletes in the team so it’s easy to set and reach goals together when everyone is on the same page.
Helsinki Roller Derby has always looked up to all the best in the world while aiming to walk on the steps of giants like London and Rat City. We have worked really hard to get from the first WFTDA sanctioned games back in the day to competing in the D1 Playoffs but we didn’t come this far to only come this far.
The audience can expect to see calm and focused walls of green and yellow, our legendary jammers doing their amazing tricks, high fives and awkward official time out dances on the jammer line.
What is your current practice space situation and how does it affect you?
We, in addition to all leagues and teams in Helsinki, recently lost our practice venue Bunkkeri. Having Bunkkeri was a true priviledge but now we’re back to normal training halls with abnormal training times. We make best with what we have but we are of course disappointed at how the practice space situation is in Helsinki.
The 2016 WFTDA playoffs wasn’t your first, how did you approach it differently compared to 2015? What effect has the financial burden of traveling for rankings had on your league, and has it changed while you’ve been members? Do you have any tips for European Teams working towards qualifying for WFTDA Playoffs in 2018? What effect do you think the first playoffs in Europe is going to have on European WFTDA rankings and member leagues as a whole?
Going to the Playoffs for the second time was a little “easier” because we had already been there and we knew what to expect. Travelling to US multiple times a year is of course a financial burden but you know that when you join the team. Our skaters are committed to our team goals, and if the goal is to win the Hydra and in order to do that you must travel to US then you just do it, no question about it. We do fundraising as a team and as a league to cover some of all of our teams’ travel costs but money is only one part of the deal: in order to travel to US you need to be able to take that time off from work and quite often even miss important family affairs. But at the same time, those tournaments are the reason you work so hard all year so we always make sure that we also enjoy travelling to places together. Here is where being friends within the team becomes one of the most important factors.
For anyone aiming to get to the WFTDA Playoffs 2018: do your research and put in the work. Set high but realistic goals and commit to them as a team. Reaching D1 or D2 is partly math and mostly just sports. You can calculate all the results that you should get in order to reach the required average ranking points but if your team is not mentally and physically ready for the competition your time in the high rankings could be short-lived. Don’t cut corners. And most importantly: remember to enjoy the ride while you’re at it. In the end, it’s just roller derby.
Having one of the Playoffs tournaments in Europe this year is a huge advancement from WFTDA. We still don’t know which teams will be competing there but for the European roller derby audience it’s an amazing opportunity to see high-level roller derby closer to their homes than ever before.
Last year we had Mayday in HEL, Smackdown, this year there was Anarchy, and now FINvitational. Do you get tired of playing against the same handful of European D1 teams over and over again?
Never. We have grown up together: we support and challenge each other more than any other teams in the world. European D1 teams are some of the hardest working teams in the whole organisation and our best friends but of course variety makes one better and we always strive to find as much unique opponents as possible to our game season. We live for playing teams ranked higher than us because we learn the most from those games. But this year will be the year of Europe – in so many ways. Just wait and see.