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ROLLER DERBY Hoosier Mama is just herself
by Ross Forman

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Erica Jones isn't too different from her roller derby alter ego, Hoosier Mama. And vice versa.

"Some skaters really play into this whole skater character/role, but mine is really just me," she said. "I am a Hoosier, born and raised in Hammond, Ind. Others like to play off the corn idea and I actually do love to eat corn. On the track I have some of the most expressive faces ever and one helluva an attitude, which matches me off the track as well. I'm a very passionate person when it comes to my feelings about things and I tend not to hold that back. I may get angry and loud while skating and hit a bit harder, but that's me in general."

Jones joined the Windy City Rollers in early 2006 after moving to Chicago for her senior year of college, for roller derby and better career opportunities: "I'm glad one of them pulled through for me."

Ironically, a fellow skater suggested the name to Jones—on the night she was recruited.

The other skater asked me what Jones' derby name was, and Jones actually was hoping for a number and no name."

Ultimately, Dayglo Dago tagged her "Hoosier Mama."

"I get compliments on my name everywhere I go," said Jones, who had her first bout June 26, 2006.

"I've been roller skating since I was, like, 5 years old," Jones said. "I would go every Wednesday to Sunday. I also use to Jam skate, which is pretty much synchronized skating with one or more persons, but not in an old person let-me-hold-your-hips-and-skate kind of way.

"It's more about the movement of the feet/skates than the movement of the body while skating around the rink. I quit skating when I was about 16, but then heard about roller derby in Chicago from my hair stylist."

So she Googled "Windy City Rollers" and was trying out weeks later.

"I love roller skating and I'm not afraid of a little contact; this sport just seemed perfect and now I'm addicted," Jones said.

Jones, 29, lives in Pilsen and is a Vault Team Member for the Ultra Diamonds.

Her sexuality is "complicated," she said. "I do not like to place a label on myself. I tend to date whomever I fall for. For the past few years, it has been women though."

Jones said she enjoys skating "because it's different and it's a workout sometimes without even knowing you're working out."

She likes the skating—and loves the contact.

"I grew up with a lot of brothers and they weren't easy on me, so I'm not shy to play a little rough," she said. "To be able to share this with other ladies, and learn and teach each other is just so amazing," Jones said. "It's a sport that is always evolving. Once you think you've learned or know it all, there will always be another skater right there to top you. There's always something to push for, whether it's learning a new skill, strategy or winning a championship."

Hoosier Mama joined the league in March 2006, and was drafted to the Double Crossers shortly thereafter. She ultimately was selected for the first All-Star roster in 2006 and has been a member of the team ever since.

"I played as a Double Crosser for four seasons from 2006-2009, at which point I elected to take the All-Star only status. I am now in the middle of my fifth season as an All-Star," she said. "I've played every position on the track, from jammer to blocker to pivot, and now tend to spend most of my time wearing the pivot stripe."

Hoosier Mama laces up her skates Nov. 5-7 for the annual 2010 Women's Flat Track Derby Association's Championship Tournament, to be held in Chicago.

" [ The National Tournament ] is going to be sick," said Hoosier Mama. "The best of the best coming to our city, competing to take home the title as the best derby team out there. That's intense and I love that it's in Chicago. It's going to be a high-intensity, high-impact weekend full of greatness. The pure athleticism is going to be amazing.

It would be fabulous to win the whole tournament, which we all want, but right now I want it to be an awesome weekend and for our team to come out proud that we worked as a well-oiled machine and made each other look the best we can.

"We will prove that we are still one of the strongest teams out there."

The November tournament winner competes for the Hydra Trophy, and top contenders include Gotham, Oly and Rocky Mountain.

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