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Interview with a derby queen
A look into the life of a roller girl
'Maya Rulz' - photo by Diana Nash

HER REAL name is Kelly Trnka, but on skates she’s known as “Maya Rulz.”

Trnka is a member of the Savannah Derby Devils, the city’s very own roller derby league. Women 18 and up are invited to take part in the Roller Girl Boot Camp Aug. 10-16. For $25, you’ll get gear and skates rental, a Savannah Derby Devils T-shirt, basic training and rink fees for the week. The action goes down at the Garden City Recreation Center-Gym, and on-site registration is available, if you need extra time to get your courage up.

In the meantime, Connect caught up with Maya Rulz to talk about the roller derby.

How did you become a Savannah Derby Devil?

Maya Rulz: A friend of mine started with the league. She and I used to roller blade together. She said I should join, so I came in as a ref. She said, “You don’t have to hit people if you’re a referee, and there’s not as strong a time commitment.” I said, “I’ll give that a shot.” I lasted about a month as a ref.

What convinced you to become a full-fledged Derby Devil?

Maya Rulz: Probably the intensity of the workout. My friend said, “You haven’t lived until you’ve done leg lifts with nine tons of skates on your feet.” You can’t get enough of it! Also, at the time when I first started with the league, I thought hitting and blocking were random punches, but it’s not. There are a lot of rules about what’s legal and not legal. It’s a lot more technically oriented, and I enjoyed that part.

Mostly, it’s the intensity of the workout and the camaraderie, as well. We’re a really close team. You don’t see many team sports for women once you’re out of college.

But why the roller derby?

Maya Rulz: I’m awful at tennis. I ran, but I don’t like running by myself. I was awful at softball. I’m athletic, but a lot of the girls don’t start out that way. A lot of the strongest skaters in the league didn’t know how to skate when they started. A lot have joined and lost 40 pounds. It’s not like being on a machine at the gym. You want be a better athlete, and in the process of that, more pounds are shed and you become more muscular. Then you go, “Oh, yeah, my butt looks good, too.”

What will happen at boot camp?

Maya Rulz: Boot camp is really designed to be more fun, a kind of introduction to roller derby. It’s for somebody who wants to try it for the heck of it, but has no plans to join the league.

It will start with a meet-and-greet, then we’ll start the workouts. We will be doing exercises, workouts on skates, techniques and skating lessons. It’s kind of small pieces of what we do. They will definitely be active and sore the next morning.

What is the typical Derby Devil like?

Maya Rulz: We’ve got a lot of professionals, including a journalist and a helicopter mechanic. There are students and moms. It really cuts across socioeconomic lines, cultural lines. We’re from lot of different backgrounds, and have ranged in age from 18 to 45. We also have all sizes of women.

Is it scary out there on the track?

Maya Rulz: Your first time, yes. My first time, I was concentrating on not throwing up during the entire first period. Then I just started playing and having so much fun. You find out you can’t wait for the next one.

What are people’s response to what you do?

Maya Rulz: When I first told my mother, she said, “I don’t have to tell everyone my daughter is a roller derby queen, do I?” Then, when she saw what I was doing, she started telling everyone her daughter was a roller derby queen! Some people say, “Oh, you don’t look that tough.” We’re all just normal people who forget when we’re standing on skates we’re that much taller, so we look intimidating.

So everyone has to pick a roller derby name?

Maya Rulz: Yes, and it’s registered in a data base so nobody else in the country can have your name. Some will choose favorite names from the past, characters in their lives, or funny puns, like superhero names.

I chose my name because of my reffing at the time and because I like to play by “Maya Rules.”

Roller Girl Boot Camp

A week of workouts, skating lessons and more, hosted by the Savannah Derby Devils. Bring a legal photo ID and insurance card.When: Aug. 10-16.Where: The Garden City Recreation Center/Gym, 160 Wheathill Rd., behind Groves High School.Cost: $25.Info: