Throughout the league’s history, Coach Jim Blair has been an integral part of training the Atlanta Rollergirls for speed and endurance. Many of us were encouraged by Coach Jim even before becoming Fresh Meat. From low-walks and 2-minute squats to laps at 70, 80, 90, and 100 percent, Coach brings the pain. And we love him for it! We caught up with the very busy Coach between his many practice engagements.
What is your experience with coaching skaters outside of the Atlanta Rollergirls?
How long have you been working with the Atlanta Rollergirls?
I’ve been with the organization for 10 years.
How did you begin coaching for ARG?
The start of this venture began when Precision Racing team was skating at the Children’s Day Parade. One of the girls found out that I was a coach, and the rest is history.
Were you familiar with flat-track roller derby prior to working with ARG? Any initial impressions?
No, I wasn’t familiar. I only knew of the old school derby with which I had grown up; banked track, rails around the outside. My initial impression? Some of these girls need to learn how to skate if they’re going to get hit.
Did you have any reservations about coaching a roller derby league?
None at all. I’ve had a blast. I feel very good about the progress these girls have made and the effort they have given.
How is coaching quad skaters different from coaching in-line skaters?
With the in-liners, we use a much larger wheel. The 4-wheel quads are a harder push, and you must keep your balance at all times. Yes, they are both skaters, but a car is not a Jeep.
What has been the most rewarding part of working with ARG?
That’s a simple one. To see these girls progress from knowing very little to being ranked 8th in the nation is a mind blower. To think I have had a small part of their success blows me away. It is very humbling.
What has been the most challenging?
That’s also simple. When I know that there is more ability in a skater and they chose not to go for it. That makes me work even harder. I want them to achieve goal they want to reach. I want more for them.
Have you noticed any changes in the skaters or the sport over the years?
Oh, yes. The Atlanta Rollergirls are not the same group of ladies they were 10 years ago. The ones who have retired have been very helpful in pushing the newbies to become better and the league has grown to become a powerhouse.
How does it feel to have helped so many become successful skaters from shaking beginnings?
It’s great. This is one of the main reasons I continue to help. When we see growth we know we are helping.
When you’re not busy turning us into endurance athletes, what do you like to do? Any hobbies?
With 6 kids, 3 grandchildren, and a wife there is very little time for much else. But I am looking for a job to help me keep sane.
Any advice for newbie skaters?
The only advice I can give is do not give up on yourself. This is not an easy sport which is why only a choice few can do it. Be committed and accountable and you will be successful.