Kate Thomason: Roller Derby Connoisseur

Grace O'Neil

Ever since she was just a little girl, Kate Thomason, English teacher at LHS, has been on wheels.

Two weeks ago, Thomason and her roller derby team, Wheels of Justice, competed in the International Championships for roller derby in Nashville, Tennessee. Teams from all around the world battled against Thomason and her team, who are ranked number two.

At the competion, Wheels of Justice finished second to Gotham City of New York, a team that has been undefeated for four years; they lost by just three points.

“It’s like the Super Bowl of roller derby,” Thomason said.

Thomason didn’t start actually competing in roller derby until 2010, when she was 39. “I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest one on the all-star team,” she said.

While Thomason may have just joined the roller derby scene, she began roller skating at a very young age.

“I started roller skating when I was really little,” Thomason said.

After beginning on roller skates, Thomason began to ice skate competitively soon after. Whether or not they are roller blades, she loved being on skates.

She first started to get interested in roller derby when she kept seeing signs around Portland about it.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I have a feeling I can do that,’ and I had a feeling I’d really like it.”

When Thomason first tried out for Fresh Meat (the beginning team), she didn’t even know how to play the game.

“It’s a pretty complicated game,” Thomason says about roller derby. She is a “jammer” on her team, meaning she is the player that scores the points, making laps around the main pack of skaters.

When she first started, Thomason had trouble understanding the game.

“There are no offensive or defensive jobs; the whole time you’re doing both. That was the hardest thing for me to grasp.”

In roller derby, each player picks an alias to go by. Thomason goes by the name “Untamed Shrew” on the track.

“The main character in ‘Taming of the Shrew’ by Shakespeare is named Kate, like me. And a ‘shrew’ is an ill-behaving, scolding woman. So it fits quite appropriately,” she said.

When Thomason is not on the track, she’s teaching at Lakeridge High School in the English department.

Thomason had been a skating instructor when she first realized she wanted to be a teacher.

“I found that I was really good at being able to break something down, explain it, teach it. It just came naturally.”

Since she liked reading and writing, it made sense to become an English teacher like she is now. Overall, Thomason finds her job very rewarding.

“Watching students when they figure out that they know how to do something is my favorite part of the job,” Thomason said.