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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Street Class: Rollergirl on Riverview Avenue

Christina Kuhnhein is a typical Ft. Thomas mom by day. After she leaves her job as a Client Relationship Manager for Paycor, she picks up her children from school, helps with homework, and prepares dinner. By night, she transforms into Ruthless Chris. 

Ruthless Chris is a member of the Cincinnati Rollergirls roller derby team. According to the Rollergirls website, "The Cincinnati Rollergirls, the area’s first all-female, amateur, flat track roller derby team." As of April 2013, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association ranks the Cincinnati Rollergirls 34th out of 155 teams worldwide. 

Kuhnhein spent her high school years in Ft. Thomas before moving away for college. Approximately three years ago, her family moved back to The City of Beautiful Homes. The family now lives on Riverview Avenue, near Woodfill Elementary. "We came back primarily for the schools, but also love the proximity to downtown, the local shops and restaurants, and the city's parks," said Kuhnhein. When she's not busy with Rollergirl duties, you can find her at some of the Ft. Thomas hot spots. "I love that we're within easy walking distance of Tower Park, and we try to frequent Ft. Thomas Coffee and Mio's as much as possible. And of course The Pub," said Kuhnhein. "We'd visit the 915 more if it became non-smoking (or if they'd invest in better smoke eaters)."

It was a trip to a skating rink that ignited her interest in roller derby. "I first learned about the Cincinnati Rollergirls four years ago after my daughter had her birthday party at a roller skating rink. I hadn't been on skates in probably 15 years, but I quickly picked it back up and thought it might be fun to see if there was a roller derby team in town." The road to the derby was not easy, and Kuhnhein had to work hard to make it on the team. After two tryout attempts, and a year of development classes, she skated onto the team's roster.  

Roller derby is much more than a hobby. The Rollergirls are also very active in the community, and frequently participate in charity events. It requires a solid time commitment to the team, but has been worth it for Kuhnhein. "Practice is 2.5 hours, three days a week. Add on drive time to/from practice, organizing and working charity events, and promoting our games, and I'd say I easily spend 12-15 hours a week on roller derby," said Kuhnhein. 

Kuhnhein is quick to note that her family's support plays an integral part in her involvement with the Rollergirls. "I'm really lucky to have a family who is 100% behind me. We've gotten into a pretty good routine on practice days, when I'm home for maybe an hour before heading out the door again. Dinners are quick and easy on those days, and we're all pretty laid back and very flexible as far as schedule goes," said Kuhnhein. "I'm very lucky, no way could I do this without their support."

If you check out the Rollergirls' roster, you will quickly see the team members' array of interesting names. "One of the really fun, unique things about roller derby is you get to come up with your own skater name." Skaters are known to choose names that reflect their hobbies and interests, or play off of their actual names. Kuhnhein set out to create a name that sounded mean, and settled on Ruthless Chris. "Not so much how I want to be viewed in real life," said Kuhnhein. "But perfect for the derby world. And then one day the name Ruthless Chris just popped into my brain, and I knew right away that was it. And yes, I do love me a good steak."

Participating in roller derby has been a positive experience for Kuhnhein as well as created opportunities she otherwise may have missed. "It's given me confidence both on and off the track, it's introduced me to wonderful people I never would've gotten the chance to meet otherwise, and working with local charities and organizing events has even helped improve my business skills," said Kuhnhein. Along with the experiences on the track, roller derby has taught Kuhnhein the power of hard work and dedication. She is also able to apply her roller derby adventures to her family life. "I'm especially thankful that roller derby has proven to me that I can truly do anything I set my mind to, that I'm not afraid to take risks, and most importantly I love that I'm passing along these lessons to our daughters." 

Christina Kuhnhein's transformation into Ruthless Chris is a testament to what some hard work and dedication can accomplish. Her experiences also remind us the importance of a solid support system. Perhaps Ruthless Chris will become the first Ft. Thomas roller derby champion…

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