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The Outfit Tue Dec 04 2012

Outfit Recruits Prep For Tryouts at Bootcamp

Nine weeks ago, Tammy Tsiones didn't know a thing about roller derby.

But in that short time, Tsiones not only knows a whole lot about derby, she's pretty confident about her chances of making it onto the Chicago Outfit.

"I think I'll be all right," she said. "I'm pretty confident."

Tsiones, who also goes by Pippi Longsmackings, was one of about 30 hopefuls who attended the Outfit's final bootcamp Monday night. The bootcamps -- five in all, including Monday's -- were designed to give even those with no prior experience the skills that might earn them a spot on the Outfit's roster. Monday's bootcamp was the last before tryouts, which happen Dec. 10 and 17.

It hasn't all been easy for Tsiones, a stay-at-home mom of three young boys. She said that while she roller skated as a kid, she is still figuring out how to skate in a pack. There's another skill, also, that Tsiones said she had trouble with.

"How the hell do you brake?" she asked with a laugh.

Monday's bootcamp focused on teaching skaters how to hit and be hit. Though several skills, including hip-checking and positional blocking, were taught, two things were constantly emphasized: communication and staying low. With good communication on the track, Outfit coaches said, it's easier to know from where a hit might be coming, which makes it easier to prepare for. And by staying low, they said, the body can more easily absorb impact.

Another derby newbie at Monday's bootcamp was Kathy Nowobilski. Unlike Tsiones, she's not so confident about her chances of making it onto the Outfit. But that's OK, she said.

"I did it to meet the girls and make some friends," she said. "This is totally out of my bubble. I did this mostly as a dare to myself."

She said she decided to attend the Outfit's bootcamps and tryouts after she lost her job.

"I was bored out of my mind and needed something to do to get out of the house," she said.

And while she's unsure about making the roster, Nowobilski jokes about using some of her newly learned skills on her son, who she said had a hard time believing his mother was getting into roller derby.

"I have a 23-year-old son. He thinks this is so funny," she said, trying not to laugh. "I get to kick his ass a little bit."

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