Looking back, Flo said the last four years has been an exciting journey.
“I was horrible when I first started,” she said. “I mean, I was really, really bad. I was wearing rental skates for two or three months because I didn’t want to pay $120 for skates if it wasn’t going to work out. But I kept working at it and eventually I got better.”
It was February 2008 and Heavy Flo was among the newest group of Fresh Meat class competing for a spot in the league. By May, she was drafted by the Hookers and thrown into the league championship match a month later.
“I honestly had no clue what the rules were,” she said with a laugh. “But it takes some time to figure it all out.”
By the 2009 season, she had the puzzle solved.
Flo became an integral part of the Hookers and worked her way up to travel team status, skating in arguably the Belles’ biggest win ever, when they took down the Gotham Girls (from New York City) at the annual regional tournament and earned the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association No. 1 Eastern ranking for the first time in team history (read about that, one of the most exciting bouts in derby's history, here).
“Flo is just flat out amazing,” said Goldy, co-captain of the Heavy Metal Hookers. “As a skater, she is incredibly powerful, strategic and communicative. She is probably one of the best partners to have on the track as I do not know one Hooker or Belle that doesn't wholly trust her instincts.”
Just as Flo was reaching the pinnacle of her skating career, a broken ankle suffered on Valentine’s Day in 2011 left the big blocker bruised and broken. A spiral break required several screws and plates to be inserted into Flo’s ankle, putting her on the sideline for most of the season.
“I was on crutches for 12 weeks so there was a chance to come back for East Coast Derby Extravaganza, but I didn’t want to push it,” Flo said. “I was casually skating again in June but I was limited to small strides.”
She said she was also forced to take smaller strides in her home life.
“You learn to appreciate the daily tasks in life,” Flo said. “But I worked out a lot with a strength trainer and did a lot of cardio. When your ankle is immobile, you have to find other ways to keep your endurance up.”
And also regain the urge to compete.
It was most likely beneficial living in a house with two other derby players as Flo shares a pad with Hooker teammates Alessa Evil and Wendy Whiplash. She also spends her quality time with Broad Street Butcher Cha Cha — her girlfriend of more than two years.
“It’s probably why I joined,” Flo said with a smile. “When I first saw the Philly Roller Girls, I thought ‘they’re cute’ and I wanted to try skating. Honestly, I had never even heard of roller derby.”
But being on separate teams from her love interest doesn’t play a huge factor out on the rink.
“We trash talk a little and one time she was able to push me out of bounds,” Flo said. “But it’s been really fun knowing everyone in this whole community of roller derby. If I woke up one day without roller derby, I think I would only have about five people to talk to on a regular basis.”
Fortunately for Flo, no such nightmare has occurred. In fact, she has broadened her derby horizons and intertwined her work with play.
Flo works for the Valley Youth House, a nonprofit that provides intervention, counseling and behavioral health services to abused, neglected and homeless children and young adults. It was chosen to be a recipient of charitable donations from the Philly Roller Girls this season.
“It’s a really good program that does a lot of good things,” she said. “I was thrilled that it was chosen to be our charity of the year.”
Flo’s giving spirit also transpires to a strong locker room presence and an undeniable will on the track — a trait other skaters have come to admire.
“As a teammate, she gives some of the most honest and constructive feedback I have ever received and I know many other skaters who would attest to this, as well,” Goldy said. “She is genuinely invested in the success of the team and in the betterment of her teammates and friends. She is a truly incredible and giving person. Personally, she was a huge influence on my own development as a skater and I will always respect and admire her as a person and a skater.”
Want to give to a good cause? Bring unused travel size hygiene kit items (deodorant, soap, toothpaste, floss, wipes, shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, etc) to the bout and you will get a free raffle ticket for each item!!