2010-08-27 / Front Page

The two lives of Loquacious D

By Cathy Cobbs

May Q. Panic (l) and Beautiful Death (r) May Q. Panic (l) and Beautiful Death (r) Again we have proof that truth is stranger than fiction.

Could anything be weirder than the true double life of a certain University of South Carolina law professor, known as Joel Samuels in the classroom, and Loquacious D, fiery coach of Columbia’s Quadsquad Roller Derby team, at the rink?

Loquacious D, a name given to him because of his self–admitted penchant for “being somewhat verbose” is his third persona, but he’s still not happy with it. He’s been known as “A Horse with No Name” and “Intravenous di Milo” but found both to be too much of a mouthful. He’s not thrilled with Loquacious D, but for now, he’s sticking with this latest moniker until another speaks to him.

And how he got into his “second” job, coaching women whose skater names include Kim KarKrashian, Mela Noma, Beautiful Death, Brassknuckle Brandy, Danielle SteelToe, and Crystal Cutt, is another long tale.

Coach Joel Samuels with Co–captain Mel Anoma aka Loquacious D(l) and Captain Holly Hunter, after winning the state championship last year. Coach Joel Samuels with Co–captain Mel Anoma aka Loquacious D(l) and Captain Holly Hunter, after winning the state championship last year. “I was at an art opening, and met one of the women who played on the team,” Samuels said of the 2007 encounter. “She said a newly formed roller derby team was looking for an announcer. That was very appealing to me as I had done some of that in college and really regretted I hadn’t pursued it.”

After a year of announcing Quadsquad bouts at Jamil Temple off St. Andrews Road, Samuels said he was asked a couple of times if he would consider joining the sidelines, and finally, after the sudden departure of the team’s coach, he accepted the position.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “It’s my passion.”

Mel Anoma is one of the stars, one of the jammers whose job is to score points by passing the opponents. Mel Anoma is one of the stars, one of the jammers whose job is to score points by passing the opponents. Samuels said although there are a fair share of skaters with tough–gal jobs one might associate with roller derby—bartenders and tattoo artists— many of the women’s daytime jobs are of the professional ilk including research assistants, attorneys, bank tellers, hair dressers, teachers, and investigators.

Samuels, a University of Michigan Law School graduate, can count himself among those anomalies. During the day, he imparts wisdom in classes with Civil Procedure I and II and Transnational Dispute Resolution. As Loquacious D, he strategizes about hip whips, c–blocks, and truck– and–trailers.

One of the things he cites as his strong suit as a coach?

He can’t skate.

Wait, what?

“I see a lot of coaches out there ‘overcoaching’ their players, trying to teach them how to skate,” Samuels said. “I don’t know how to skate, so I concentrate on things other than technique. I work on strategy and team work.”

“I’ve seen him try, and I can say he’s not going to win any skating competitions,” said one who ought to know, team captain Holly Hunter, who alternates duties as a jammer and a blocker (see sidebar for an explanation of the rules and positions). She also has a strange triangle of “other” lives.

Outside the rink, she’s Stacey, a recent law school graduate waiting for her bar exam results, and an accomplished figure skating champion. With such a range of interests, why roller derby—a knockdown, rough–and–tumble sport that is worlds apart from the finesse of the triple axel and the camel spin?

Stacey/Holly said it was simple; violence plus fellowship equaled love.

“I loved hitting and blocking right away, and then the women…” she said. “It was like I instantly had 30 new best friends.”

The veteran skater said the women do more than share a rink at the twice–a–week practices. There’s lunches and get–togethers and coming to each other’s rescues on a moment’s notice.

Attorney Lisa Smith, aka Lisa Marie Deadly, who joined the team in early 2009 and functions as a multi–purpose blocker, said the comradarie among the women is one of the most “awesome” elements of the Quadsquad.

“When I moved here, I didn’t know a single person outside my law firm,” she said. “It’s not only incredibly fun; it’s great that you have these instant relationships.”

“We are family,” Samuels said. “When we get into the huddle after each practice, we say ‘1,2,3 family.’ And these women don’t just say that. If there’s a situation, they are there for each other.”

Aside from the companionship, many of the women say that roller derby answers many needs: the opportunity to get good exercise and a chance to blow off some steam.

“I’m 32, and a stay–at–home mom of four children,” said blocker/pivot player Jennifer (also known as May Q. Panic), who also helps direct the charity efforts for the team. “This is something that I can do well and it gets me out of the house and away from it all. It’s also a great way to get my aggression out.”

“We’ve got a lot of women who were never part of a team sport growing up,” Samuels said. “I think that’s also a big attraction.”

Speaking of big attractions in Columbia, about 800–1,000 devoted fans from all walks of life coming to see the monthly bouts. On August 22, a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Richmond River City Rollers at the Jamil Temple was packed with spectators—families, children, teens and senior citizens—all of whom seemed to be as knowledgeable as the 14 women on the Quadsquad’s all–star team.

And they weren’t disappointed. The undefeated Quadsquad took an early 30- 10 lead and never looked back, defeating the Rollers by more than 50 points.

The squad members, who range in age from 22–54, and includes at least one mother–daughter duo (Brassknuckle Brandy and Momma Knuckles), don’t receive any compensation. In fact, they must pay monthly dues to cover facility rental fees and administrative costs. Samuels isn’t paid either.

A portion of every bout’s gate goes to local charities, including funds directed towards cancer research and domestic abuse assistance.

“That’s another thing that’s great about what we do,” said Smith. “We can help out these local, small charities, and keep the money working in the community.”

Next month’s October 23 home matchup against the Classic City Roller Girls will feature as a halftime highlight several of the women and their children cutting off their hair to donate to groups that provide free wigs to cancer patients. Hunter is one of those planning to lop off her hair.

“I’m a little scared,” she admitted, at the thought of shedding her long locks. Oh, the irony.

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