EUGENE, Ore. - At first glance, the confident demeanor of scarlet-haired Kylie Belachaikovsky would make roller derby fans swear she has been involved in the sport her whole life.
But Belachaikovsky, who goes by the derby name Agent Orange, had no clue how to skate when she decided to get involved in roller derby after watching a bout in Springfield.
"It was very difficult at first," she said. "I thought of myself as a fairly athletic person but I wasn't a skater. I thought it seemed like a long shot that I’d actually get to be able to be a skater."
Her worries were completely valid.
Roller derby is a full on contact sport. A player has to be able to take hits, be swift on skates and recover with extraordinary speed from falls. Belachaikovsky has mastered the skills.
She attributes her vast improvement to cross training and an extensive amount of time on her skates.
From her humble beginnings, Belachaikovsky has established herself as a seasoned veteran. She is currently the captain of the local team the Andromedolls, and also competes for Eugene’s traveling all-star team, the Skatesaphrenics.
Although she loves playing the sport, she is truly passionate about coaching young women who aspire to be the next skillful group of derby players.
"I often joke that I can't wait till my knee blows out so I can stop being a skater and go full time with coaching because I really do enjoy teaching and helping new girls grow.”
Belachaikovsky believes roller derby has had nothing but a positive effect on her life, which may be a hard concept for the average spectator to grasp.
"Even though we are absolutely unscripted full contact, and we are attempting to knock each other down, and our blows are very brutal, there's still a real sense of camaraderie both within the team and also within the league.”
Beyond team dynamics, Belachaikovsky is philosophic about the sport. “There’s also for me a real sense of accomplishment — that much like life, you can get knocked down and you have three seconds to get back up and keep going.”
For Agent Orange right now, everything seems to be smooth skating.