OFF THE CLOCK
By Veronica Sandate Craker
During the workweek Tomiann Parker can usually be found behind her desk busily working at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.
Parker is the Service Level Manager for Information Release.
“It’s a lot of problem solving,” Parker said of her job.
She’s tasked with releasing information about PNNL projects to the public, while being sure not to disclose sensitive information.
“In terms of my day job — it’s very computer focused, it’s very information focused and you don’t get to see immediate payoff,” Parker said.
But at least three times a week she leaves her office kicks off her heels and slips on a pair of roller skates. During that time Parker is no longer Tomiann. Instead she’s WeEvil and she’s a member of the Atomic City Roller Girls.
“It’s just really nice to totally switchgears and you get to set to see some immediate payback,” Parker said of derby. “And you get to hit people.”
Despite her sweet and calm demeanor on the outside, on the roller rink Parker is the aggressor known as WeEvil or No. 665.
“Wee-evil, because I’m only a little bit evil,” she said. “Six hundred, sixty-five — it’s like the neighbor of the beast instead of the number of the beast.”
Parker decided to pursue roller derby after her doctor warned her she needed to get healthy.
“After I got my Masters Degree I was sitting at the desk a lot,” Parkers said. “My doctor said either exercise or get diabetes.”
Rather than join a gym, Parker looked for other options to help her shed some weight, while having fun.
While at a local coffee shop she came across a flyer searching for new members to join the a local roller derby team.
Parker said she showed it to her husband and after the initial shock wore off, he decided to support her in her mission.
But it wasn’t as simple as buying a pair of skates. In fact, Parker admits she couldn’t skate at all.
“Now I’m much better,” she said. “I’m pretty good at hitting people and not falling down.”
Today Parker is not only a better skater, she’s also in better shape.
“I’m probably in the best shape of my life now — both endurance and physically,” she said. “I have this constant sugar battle — so derby has definitely helped with that. When you start to see yourself make improvements. That’s encouraging.”
During her roller derby bouts, Parker plays the role of blocker. Each bout includes jammers and blockers. While jammers are fast and agile blockers are the aggressors.
They are there to stop the other team from scoring, Parker said.
“I’ve watched a film later where I got hit really hard,” Parker said. “I have no memory of that. I do remember hitting other people though.”
Because roller derby is a contact sport Parker is often asked if she’s worried about being injured.
“You know what, sitting on my butt getting diabetes, getting heart disease, that’s dangerous,” she said.
For her roller derby isn’t just about hitting people.
Parker said she is proud that the organization also gives back to the community by donating proceeds to various charities.
“The last bout a portion of our ticket sales went to the diaper bank,” she said. “We work with Pets Over Population to raise money for them. The bout coming up (in September) goes to Bikers Against Child Abuse.”
With roller derby Parker said she’s gained inner strength and lasting friendships
“It is just so much fun,” Parker said. “I work so much harder when I am working with this team, so much harder than I ever will at the gym. It doesn’t have the same incentive to me then when you are with a group of girls and you have someone encouraging you.”
To find out more about the Atomic City Roller Girls visit atomiccityrollergirls.org.