“She's the Michael Jordan of roller derby,” said teammate Ginger Vitis. “She's a natural leader. Even when she's not a captain, she's a back seat leader. She always has a plan and people follow her.”
The Liberty Belles have yet to build a high-powered spotlight with a squirrel-shaped insignia to shine over the Philly skyline when such occasions arise. But they've got something close.
A large billboard along northbound Interstate 95 in Northeast Philadelphia now displays a larger-than-life picture of Mo Pain. It's the latest strategy by PRG, promoting the increasingly popular sport to the everyday commuters along the city's most traveled highway.
It was no surprise Mo Pain was chosen as the poster child for the league's first billboard by the PRG Board of Directors.
“Mo is a founding member and she completely deserves it,” said Belles teammate Heavy Flo. “I would have been pretty (upset) if it was someone else.”
Mo Pain was indeed involved in the blueprints of the Philly Roller Girls before they had opponents, fans, or even each other.
“I never really imagined it would get as big as it is,” Mo said on Monday at Millennium Skate World in Camden, the league's practice facility. “There were a lot of pieces missing back then. But it's really awesome how successful we have become. Back then, we worried about a logo and having uniforms. Now we are moving into a 4,000-seat venue and we host one of the biggest derby events in the world.”
It's true. Fresh off another successful year hosting the East Coast Derby Extravaganza at the SportsPlex in Feasterville, PA, in June, the Philly Roller Girls will take their talents to Broad Street and open the second half of their season in Temple University's Liacouras Center on Saturday, July 14th.
Fans will have the opportunity to see Mo Pain's defending Warrior Cup champion Philthy Britches take on the 2010 champion Broad Street Butchers in a rematch of an April meeting. The Butchers took round one, a match Mo watched from the sidelines because of a broken foot.
“I fractured a stupid little bone in my left foot in the off season and it kept me off skates for six weeks,” Mo said with laugh. “I didn't even know it was broken. It was just something that was bothering me. I've been coming back slowly but I'm starting to feel good and trying to get back on top of my game.”
Mo visited a podiatrist and applied a bone stimulator at nights to help the fracture heal. She believes the injury occurred as a result of a newer style of play that requires players to be on their toestops at the jam line to start many jams.
Photo by Axle Adams, aka Jules Doyle, of Mo Pain #8 as she lines up on her toestops during a bout during Uproar at the Lakeshore in Chicago, November 2010.
“The doctor said it's an injury that ballerinas get,” Mo said. “There's a lot more toe stops and running and jumping in today's derby. You have to adapt to what works.”
With a smaller frame, Mo Pain has made a career out of exploding off her skates and squeezing into tight places while wearing the jammer star. The reputation earned her the squirrel as her “power animal” by her teammates.
Photo by Rick Marr of Mo Pain #8 with the jammer star on for the Liberty Belles during a bout versus the Oly Rollers in Denver at the end of 2011.
“She has such aggression and power,” said Belles teammate Shenita Stretcher, who will line up against Mo this weekend as a member of the Butchers. “Everyone has a power animal and Mo's is definitely the squirrel. She can get really low and make people miss.”
Shenita, who skated for Team USA in the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup, in Toronto, Canada, said she always admired Mo's passion for the game.
“I always wanted to be the love child of Mo Pain and Teflon Donna,” Shenita said with a chuckle, referring to another Team USA and PRG member. “You want to be just like them after playing against them over and over and getting beat by them over and over. You wish you could just grab their powers.”
Mo said she's not used to being the center of attention. Last week, at a Philadelphia Soul Arena Football game, she signed autographs of a promotional poster, featuring the same photo that appears on the billboard.
“It actually feels a little absurd,” Mo said. “I'm not used to the attention but it was really fun being the face of the league for a month.”
The Second Half Begins
Saturday's action-packed double header will christen Temple University's Liacouras Center with a heated league match and a visit from the Texas Rollergirls Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, who will take on PRG's B-Team, the Independence Dolls. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the first bout begins at 6. Tickets can be bought through the Philly Roller Girls Website, ComcastTix, or at the Liacouras Center Box Office.
The second half of the double-header will feature a desperate Philthy Britches team, who will attempt to pay back the Broad Street Butchers for an 2012 season opening day 213-87 defeat. The defending Warrior Cup champs have their backs against the wall as they sit at the bottom of the standings with an 0-2 record. A victory on Saturday against the Butchers (1-1) could give the Britches a chance to crawl back into contention for a spot in this year's championship.
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!!