Garden of Beatin’ wants you to join her. If you are an alumn of the legendary, and winningest roller derby team in all of Cincinnati, come join the fun.

You might not recognize her by her ordinary name, Holly Funk. But Garden and two other friends, Big Ugly and Candykickass!, from Cincinnati Rollergirls [CRG] are on a mission to accomplish three things: first, to have some fun together, second, help the team, and third, help former skaters who are or have been going through a rough time.

I interviewed Holly in a Clifton coffeeshop; she was both intense and all smiles, and looked like she could easily still block with the best of them. Indeed soon after the interview she played as a guest in a bout against CRG as part of The World, and won. [This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity]. –Yvonne Keller

If you (as CRG alum, Cincinnati Rams alum, or refs/NSOs alum) want to join: 

The group name is: Out to Pasture – Cincinnati Roller Derby Alumni Association

The Gmail is : [email protected]

Founding members: Sydney Greathouse (aka Big Ugly), Lauren Dennison (aka Candykickass!), and Holly Funk (aka Garden of Beatin’)

Interview by Yvonne Keller

Yvonne: What is your history with derby?

Holly: Back in 2010, I went to my first derby game and just fell in love with it. My husband said he just kept looking over and I was like at the edge of my seat and I was smiling the entire time and I felt:  this is amazing. Couldn’t sleep all night. Six in the morning, I got on their website and I said, how do I get to be a part of this? And I got a response from Wheezy [a CRG player] immediately. And I saved it. I’ll always have that email.  

Yvonne: Did you know how to skate?

Holly: It had been a long time. I bought a beginner derby package. I found from some website, they were really crappy skates. And remember I put them on and I stood up in the garage and then immediately fell on my ass and went: well, this is gonna be some work. So, yeah, it took a lot.

I did a lot of practicing in my cul-de-sac, getting kicked out of a lot of tennis courts and the nearby elementary schools. Eventually started doing roller rinks and tried to skate around the kids and it took probably nine months before I started feeling more comfortable. I think it was my third tryout when I finally made it. Never looked back since then.  

Yvonne: Why do you think you had such a love for it?

Holly: It wasn’t really that I like skating. I think it was just an exciting sport that any woman could do if you just put your mind to it. And the camaraderie and the energy. Oh my God, that energy was amazing. It was just so intoxicating. So, yep, that’s all it took.

Yvonne: Had you been athletic before?

Holly: Not a whole lot. I did swim team in high school, and fencing in college. That was how I met my husband, in fencing.

Yvonne: So CRG started as a team in 2005; when did you join?

Holly: I think it was 2011. I was on the team for about three years. And then I transferred to the Ohio Roller Girls in Columbus. I skated for Ohio for three years and then I came back to CRG and skated for about two more, that was 2018, 2019.

Yvonne:  So you must know across a wide range of CRG players. That’s great in terms of what you’re trying to do.

Holly: Really hope so.

Yvonne: Can you talk more about your plans for the Cincinnati Rollergirls alums?

Holly: Just as I was retiring, I had thought of putting together an alumni club or association or something to find everyone and get them all together. I had written up a whole plan, I had a mission statement, I had everything ready, you know, end of 2019 and then 2020 came and with Covid, I put it on the back burner. Didn’t even think about it. It hasn’t been till last November, December that people have been asking about it. 

Yvonne: People have been asking for it–that’s great.

Holly: Yeah. I’m guessing I had said:  I’m gonna do this and it’s gonna be awesome and blah, blah blah, you know, running my mouth. And then people were like, oh, didn’t you say you were gonna do this? And I thought: oh shit, I did, didn’t I? Also, a lot of stuff has been going on with several of our alumni, a lot of family and health issues and people felt like we needed a support group. We needed to get the band back together again to help these people out. I had heard rumors that former skaters Big Ugly and Candy Kickass were interested in helping. And we’ve been working on it ever since.

Yvonne: How can people reach you?

Holly: [email protected].  We are hoping to get people together for a summer picnic. And come the fall season we will be getting together around the games, and at the after-parties. And to have a cheering section at the games!

And it’s open, it’s not just Cincinnati Rollergirls. We also want all the NSOs and the refs and the Cincinnati Rams–our brothers are also in it. That’s why we ended up changing the name from Cincinnati Roller Girl Alumni Association to Roller Derby. Because we wanted to make it a more broad group.

We’re number one gonna be a social group, helping each other out, but it’s also in our mission to help out the CRG. Hopefully the men’s team will form again and we can help them out. We wanna make sure that our 513 is well supported too [The  513 is a union formed of the skating officials and the NSOs]. 

Yvonne: What was your favorite moment as a player?

Holly: That is a hard one. There’s so many. Well, this one was very memorable and actually kind of funny. There was a game where I was singlehandedly keeping a jammer back from the other team to the point where she was crying. She couldn’t get past me. So I remember looking back and thinking: just keep going, keep going. I know you can do it. I looked at the clock and saw we had 23 seconds left. She never did get past me. Then whistles blew and I gave her a big hug. I said, you were amazing. And it was just very sweet. And it definitely encapsulated what I feel about roller derby, where at the end of the day we’re all friends and we’re all supporting each other, especially as women. It was just great fun.

I’m just trying to think of my favorite wins or losses where we just didn’t care–really it was just the good times with all my teammates.  

Yvonne: What’s your biggest hope for this new group you’re forming? 

Holly: Well, right now, number one, my biggest hope is just getting as many people as we can. And hopefully getting people to communicate with us when they’re having great things or terrible things. And we can show up as a group together for this. You know, someone is about to run a 5k, or maybe something really terrible is happening and you need some support. Someone we knew died, and two others were diagnosed with cancer. It’s those moments that we feel like we need to be there for everyone in some way. We are just getting started.

TO REACH the newly formed Out to Pasture: Cincinnati Roller Derby Alumni Association, and get added to their email list, email: [email protected]