One of our few Keweenaw natives, Starbuck came into the league head first and hasn’t stopped pressing forward. Her determination to make the league the best it can be shows in her endless contributions and networking within our community. Both a menace on the track, and warrior in the day to day, she is certainly a double threat. This month we honor her as featured skater and as a reward, a rejuvenating session with Elizabeth Ross, acupuncturist and sponsor of the Keweenaw Roller Girls.
Name: Kara Paavilainen a.k.a Starbuck
Year you started roller derby: 2016..15?
Where are you from originally? Good ‘Ol Calumet, MI
Name a fun little known fact about you: I’ve never had a cavity.
How did you get involved with roller derby? Slam first put the idea in my head about 3 years ago while I was working at the 7th floor and the board was having their meetings there. The stars finally aligned for me last season.
How did you pick your name? I knew I wanted to have one name… like Prince. At the time, I was really into the TV show Battlestar Galactica. The rest is history.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background? I grew up on skates. I started with the CFSC at age 4. I gave up figure skating when I was 14 or so, but I’ve always skated recreationally. In high school I played varsity volleyball and was in track for a season.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby: My rookie year was last season. It was kind of strange, because within weeks my skating skills were rivaling that of the vets. That being said, I had NO IDEA what was happening on the track like 75% of the time. I had all the tools, but wasn’t sure how to use them. It took me the majority of the season to really learn the game.
Do you have a pre-game ritual? I really love to power walk in the woods with my dogs before heading over to the arena. I listen to jam bands or Rage Against the Machine as loud as I can over headphones. I always eat pasta from the Eagle Harbor Inn the night before.
What is your position of choice? That’s a tough one. Last season, I would have said Jammer but I’m really loving offensive blocking lately.
How would you describe your derby playing style? Do you have a signature move? Fancy footwork.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track? Successful apex jumps during our in-house scrimmages. Also, being nominated for captain this season. That was an honor.
Have you held any leadership positions in leagues? How have those positively impacted your personal roller derby career? I’ve been on the board for two seasons now. I handle the sponsorships and community outreach for the league, and whatever else comes my way! It’s been great. I feel more in touch with my community now than ever before.
What is your job outside of roller derby? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby? I’m a bartender/server. If you can juke your way through a crowd you can make it happen on the track, too.
What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby? DO IT! I’ve gotten the most out of my experience because I’ve committed. It’s been very rewarding.
And lastly, favorite places in the Keweenaw? On the lake, between #9 and the Monks. Or Baldy. It’s worth the climb.