Friday, February 20, 2015

The Hit List: Skater Spotlight for 2/20/2015: Graham Espe aka Grambo #37

What is your derby name?
Grambo, but I skate under my real name now.

What is the story behind your name?
It was a childhood nickname. This will definitely date me, but when video rental stores and VHS players were new things, we used to go to the local video store and they had a deal where you rented a VCR in a huge suitcase kinda thing, plus any two movies, for the weekend. So I got to pick one movie, and probably 20 times I rented the same Rambo cartoon- y'know, because Rambo was a great idea to make into a cartoon for little kids. Then again, there were still ashtrays in every airplane seat armrest at the time sooooooo.....

What number do you wear?
#37. Although I started out wearing "1st Blood" to go along with the Rambo thing- but since that translates to #1 on the track, I felt a little silly hearing myself called 'Number One' all the time.

Why did you choose it?
Its got a lot of metaphysical significance.

What is your role in the league?
I was one of the founders. I was President for the first few years of
our existence, and then as I took on more responsibility for MRDA, I stepped back from home league stuff. Currently, I just handle the financial book keeping.

What is your preferred position on the track?
I don't really have one.

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you jamming. Although the physical demands are huge, the goals of the job are simple- get by the opposing team and keep skating. I like that simplicity.
Now that I'm blocking more, I really like the mental game, the on-track communication, the offense-defense switching and working as a unit.

By Hispanic Attack
What’s your pre-derby athletic background?
Ummm.....does playing guitar in a band and getting tattoos count?
I was always into outdoors stuff- hiking, kayaking, etc, but the only organized sport I played before derby was basketball in 7th and 8th grade.

What would you say are your greatest strengths as a skater?
I think its probably my ability to keep a cool head. I don't get fired up easy. I keep my focus and consider whatever's going on part of the game. Even times where people have tried to start nearly throwing punches - I just kind of stand back and laugh, not because I think I'm a tough guy or anything, but just because I can't imagine letting myself get that upset or fired up about a game.

What is your proudest accomplishment in roller derby and why?
Probably being awarded all-tournament team at Mohawk Valley Cup in 2012. That trophy means a lot to me.

Which one of your teammates do you look up to most, and why?
I give the most credit and respect to the new guys who are still trying to hit their minimum skills, and sticking with it past all the failed attempts, bruises, ill-fitting equipment, etc. I can't imagine joining men's derby as a brand new skater today, especially with a league/team where you don't already know a bunch of people. Its easy to say that I look up to the skills some of our vets have- and its genuine, I really do, and I could list something for everyone on the team. But those new guys who I have to give a shoulder to lean on as we do laps so they can skate the apex without drifting off the track, seeing their legs wobble and knowing they feel like they're going to die- and then seeing them show up again the next week for more- that's what I look up to most.

What is your best memory of the 2014 MRDA season?
First jam of our first game against Harm City. We had no idea what to expect as we hadn't played them before, and they were ranked above us (at least on FTS). I had skated with Sin Diesel and Gearhead before on a few occasions, and I knew I didn't want to get hit by them if I could help it. Ferrari Kid had recently moved down there from VT, and I had skated against him a bunch of times and knew he was tough as a jammer. The rest of the guys were a mystery. We came out of the gates strong, my blocking lineup was spectacular. They drew a cut on the Harm jammer almost right away, and I scored a 15-0 jam to kick off the season.

What is your motivational quote? 
Geeze, I had to think back to my old MySpace profile for this one.....
Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

How did you get involved with roller derby?
My wife Heather gets all the credit on this one. She was a founder of our sister league, Central New York Roller Derby, and brought me on to help as a ref and with business development. After a couple years of reffing and being the girls' hitting dummy at practice, I realized I wanted to play too. The rest, as they say, is history.


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