October Spotlight: Leigh Featherstone #6

Spotlight Interview

Jamming for the Disco Brawlers in August 2015. Photo by Jake Peloquin

Jamming for the Disco Brawlers in August 2015. Photo by Jake Peloquin

How did you decide to start playing roller derby? 

I went to grad school at Indiana University where I was friends with a number of the women who skated with Bleeding Heartland around 2008. I went to a few games and was hooked, but was about to graduate and move away. Fast-forward to January 2010 when I saw a flyer for a new league that was forming in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. I missed team sports and was new to the area, and so I showed up to a practice and haven’t stopped skating since. 

After 2.5 years with the Twin City Derby Girls, I transferred to the Silicon Valley Roller Girls in San Jose, California. Then in 2014, my family and I relocated to New Mexico which is when I joined Duke City.

Munecas Muertas vs. Pueblo, Mayday Mayhem 2015. Photo by Gil Cromeens

Munecas Muertas vs. Pueblo, Mayday Mayhem 2015. Photo by Gil Cromeens

What roles do you fill in the league?

I serve currently as the President of the league. In addition, I manage our online forum and help to ensure compliance with WFTDA safety requirements. I skate for the Muñecas Muertas and the Disco Brawlers. On those rare occasions I’m not skating or otherwise working a game, I really like to NSO. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about roller derby?

Learn the rules. I started hearing this when I went to my first roller derby training camp (inaugural Beat Me Halfway!), and it has really stuck with me. When I was younger I played and officiated soccer, which meant that when I got to roller derby I already understood how to read, understand and implement rules. Rules changes and clarifications don’t bother me like I know they do many other skaters, and I find that to be a big advantage. Watching roller derby can really help skaters to learn what the written rules mean in practice. 

Photo by Eric Baker 2013

Photo by Eric Baker 2013

What do you do in your non-derby life?

I work at the Santa Fe Institute where I provide support to the Learning Lab. Basically, I help to deliver services to teachers and students who want to engage further with computer science and engineering. 

I train in Olympic weightlifting at The Miller Gym. It started off as cross training, but I’m hooked and am trying to figure out when I can compete. So far all the local weightlifting meets conflict with derby games. 

I’m also an occasional volunteer with the Santa Fe Humane Society. I wish I could do more, but this roller derby thing takes up a lot of time. 

Final thoughts?

I’ve served in league leadership roles since I started roller derby - in fact, I’ve served on five different Board of Directors in six years. I like to joke that I’ve pretty much earned an MBA in those years between learning all the ins and outs of three different sets of state laws and reporting requirements for businesses. I’ve been fortunate to get to develop so many skills in the daily operation and leadership of these leagues.

I love encouraging new members to get involved early in the business of roller derby - so many of the skills and much of the knowledge are transferrable. Roller derby belongs on your resume, whether it’s balancing the league accounts or wrangling volunteers.

Posted on October 10, 2015 .