Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Derby domination, Savage style

Staff Writer | January 6, 2023 1:05 AM

She's Gracie Goodnature by day and "Lil Miss Savage" when she hits the rink.

A Lake City High School sophomore, Gracie is racing toward roller derby glory.

"I love playing with my team, I love the adrenaline it gives me," Gracie, 15, said Thursday. "I get a lot of bruises and stuff. I get knocked down and I get back up straightaway."

A lifelong skating enthusiast, Gracie, of Hayden, is putting her best foot forward as she prepares to compete in the 2023 Junior Roller Derby World Cup, scheduled July 28-30 in Valence, France, and will be hosted by the Fédération Française de Roller and Skateboard's Junior Collectif of Equipe de France.

"I'm super excited, I'm really, really excited, half nervous," Gracie said. "It's just a really big step in what I can do."

Gracie, or "Savi," as her teammates call her, is the captain of the Spokane-based Pixies Roller Derby team comprising athletes ages 10 to 18. Gracie has been active in the sport since she was 10. She rocks the No. 3 on her jersey and skates in the role of "jammer" during bouts. The jammer wears a star-covered helmet and has one main goal — to pass blockers on the other team and escape as quickly as possible.

At 4-feet, 11-inches, Gracie has the advantage of size as she squeezes in and out of throngs of girls trying to take her down. She came up with her derby name, "Lil Miss Savage," when she first entered the sport. And she has lived up to the feisty moniker.

“I hit and juke at the same time," Gracie said. "I’m pushing people a lot, trying to get into small spaces."

In July 2022, Gracie and the Pixies competed in the Junior Roller Derby World Cup National Championships, where she received five awards, including MVP Jammer in the overall women's division. Her Pixies teammate, Brisa Ocampo (No. 7 Thunder Breeze) of Spokane Valley, will also skate on Team USA in the World Cup as they compete against teams from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark.

"I’ve liked roller skating my whole life," Gracie said. "I was a rough child, a crazy child with a lot of energy, and my mom found roller derby and was like, 'I think this is the perfect thing for her.'"

Thus began a metamorphosis for the young Gracie, who, as her grandma, Shary Shreve, said, has blossomed since she found her place in roller derby.

"I don't know how she does it," Shreve said. "We couldn't be more proud of her. She has no quit in her. This is her passion."

Gracie attended Atlas Elementary, then Woodland Middle School before going to Lake City. Skating is her main activity, but she enjoys painting and artwork when she's not immersed in roller derby awesomeness.

Gracie and the Pixies will compete in a home tournament in March.

For other girls interested in the sport, Gracie shared a word of wisdom: Persistence pays off.

"Don’t get frustrated if you're not good at it at first. I wasn't good at it at first," she said. "If you keep trying, you can get really good."

Gracie is raising funds to cover travel expenses as she represents North Idaho and the U.S. on the world stage. Visit https://gofund.me/2985d51e for details.


Courtesy photo

Gracie Goodnature, 15, of Hayden, will represent North Idaho and the U.S. when she competes in the 2023 Junior Roller Derby World Cup in France this summer.

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