…or any Roller Derby you can remember that resembled pro-wrestling ala Andre The Giant & Chief Jay Strongbow. Retro Brand spoke with Missouri Tigers fanatic & Professional Roller Derby skater Michael Christopher recently to bring us up to speed on how things have changed since the good old days.
Andy: First question is how did you end up in Professional Roller Derby anyway? You grow up roller skating?
Michael: I don’t have a background in skating at all. I used to play some street hockey here and there when I was a kid… usually the goalie… that should tell you something about my skating skills. A good friend’s wife played for the Arch Rival Roller Girls in St. Louis and I started going to her bouts every month. When the St. Louis Gatekeepers started up, my friend constantly tried to get me to join. I was hesitant for a long time, but once I went to practice I never looked back.
Andy: What about the sport do you love so much?
Michael: I grew up playing several sports. This was something new and exciting. I didn’t have much skating experience and that is what is great about the sport. Our team is made up of dudes from different backgrounds. Many of my teammates watch footage and cross train when they aren’t at practice. In this sport, you can become a good player through hard work and determination.
Andy: So tell us the difference between the “Old” pro roller derby compared to what you do in the rink today.
Michael: When my Grandfather found out I was playing roller derby he got very excited. He used to go downtown on Friday nights to watch derby bouts back in the 70s and 80s. What he saw was more like professional wrestling. A lot of it was scripted, pure entertainment. Today, there isn’t anything scripted about the sport. What you see is what you get. The wins, the losses, the big hits, everything is genuine. In fact, there is a big movement to get roller derby into the 2020 Olympics.
Andy: Ok, this is no joke then… Is Professional Roller Derby your full time job?
Michael: Derby is a pay to play sport. Everyone in our league has a real-life job. I work for an experiential marketing agency by day. In addition to skating for the Gatekeepers, I also coach the Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars. Between skating and coaching it can feel like a second full-time job. There is great passion for the sport in the STL, which makes it all worth it.
Andy: Wow, do you ever have any down time? Like to watch your beloved Missouri Tigers? That’s how I got to know you in the first place; Retro Brand and the Mizzou Tigers.
Michael: Haha… That is a great question. It can be hard to find some down time, but when I do, I am usually watching other sports. I love watching Mizzou football and basketball. And while I didn’t attend Mizzou, it is the state’s major university and I love cheering them on. I think you’ll find that most everyone that lives in the state is a Missouri Tiger fan even if they didn’t go to school there. When Mizzou does well, as they did in getting to the SEC Championship last year, everyone goes absolutely nuts.
As for Retro Brand, I absolutely love the softness and fit. I’m very particular about these things when it comes to my tees, and Retro Brand fits the bill. And the retro look is an added bonus.
Andy: Well we consider it a bonus to have you as one of our fans Michael, and thanks for taking a little time with us today.
If you’re ever in the St. Louis area, we highly recommend you check out the St. Louis Gatekeepers. You can also find them on the road in Chicago & Seattle this October. Check their remaining 2014 Schedule HERE.
It’s hard to not let the latest events in the news bring you down. Every day seems to bring more and more heartache about things that are for the most part, out of our control. That’s why the Retro Band interview today with “The Good Sign Man,” Kevin Lamb, is a happy reminder that there are more good guys than bad guys out there, and you can do something to make this world a better place. …and this is a good sign.
Andy-RB: What exactly is “This is a Good Sign,” about, and how did you end up as a Good Sign Man?
Kevin: This is a Good Sign is a brand movement focused on positively influencing others and celebrating the people and behaviors that contribute to a better tomorrow. As it says on our website, a good sign is a happiness device inspiring the world to be a happier and more friendly place, one Good Sign at a time.
I was given a Good Sign before even meeting Eric Dennis (founder of “This Is A Good Sign”) back in 2011. At the time I was trying to make it as a writer, freelancing for Sportz Detroit Magazine, and put a Good Sign sticker on my laptop. I took a picture of it on the floor of the Palace where the Pistons play, and posted to Facebook. It got a lot of attention so the idea of a Good Sign began to resonate with me more. I began inserting a Good Sign in every article on my book and writing some poems inspired by my natural connection with the concept.
Shortly thereafter Eric and I met for the first time beneath an underpass in Detroit, Michigan (Kevin is from West Bloomfield). I had been giving needed goods to the homeless there every Friday in an effort to try and challenge citizens to contribute to their community using minimal resources. There is a big disconnect between those that drop their bags off at the Salvation Army and the people being helped. Bridging that gap allows people to feel who they are helping, and to learn that feeling is worth the world. Eric gave me my first big Good Sign that day, and after talking he trusted me to help him with this beautiful mission of his. I took on the role of brand ambassador and spokesman and with the help of thousands around the globe we have given our species a common sign of hope and happiness.
It wasn’t until I would go places without my Good Sign and see the physical disappointment from others that I began to process just what I was getting into. From that point I carried my Good Sign everywhere I went for six months. Naturally people scrutinized me (anyone) for such an obvious physical demonstration, but I carried it for those who needed it, and for the open minded, positive individuals that were drawn to it. The overwhelming emotional responses that I and thousands of others now receive, are what we jokingly refer to as “Good Sign miracles”. It’s pretty simple; “Where you invest your love, you invest your life” – a Mumford & Sons quote found on both Kevin’s back and the back of his book, “The Dying Romantic”, which you can order on Amazon here. Four years later, we continue to invest our love into the health, hope and happiness of our fellow brothers and sisters and encourage help others to do the same.
Andy-RB: Obviously the positive response fueled your passion to continue. I’m curious to hear a little more detail when it comes to folks reactions when offered a good sign and how you actually deliver them. Do tell…
Kevin: It’s been such a beautiful and amazing experience. You begin to feel like everyone you come in contact with is part of a big family… A big loving, positive family. Smiles happen. Love happens. The Good sign is kind of a permission slip to talk with people which works both ways, and again, the response has been 99% positive. As far as delivery, the Good sign can be stickers we hand out, small plastic signs, and signs the size of regular yield road signs (you’ll see exactly what Kevin is referring to and more by clicking here).
Andy-RB: Again, it’s great to hear it’s “all good,” but what about that 1%? Do people ever think you are trying to preach your beliefs to them?
Kevin: Yeah, but those negatives are far and few between. I’m a recycling center of energy. We inspire others to be better and when they pay it forward it all seems to come back around. People think we’re pushing Jesus, or this, that, and the other, but we don’t have an agenda other than sharing faith in humanity and emphasizing the golden rule. We are not prescriptive or exclusive. If religion helps you be a better person, we’re all for it!
Andy-RB: I get it now! Ok, I’ve just browsed your Instagram feed and have to say that you look like you’re having way too much fun. Tell us about a few of your favorite trips and experiences.
Kevin: Gosh, there are so many and really they’re all special to me, but one really stands out. Mumford & Sons is one of my favorite bands… This past year a group of us followed their train tour and we were in the audience at the Gentleman Of The Road, Troy Stopover, when Marcus Mumford spotted us in the crowd and said: ”This is a Good Sign, I really want that sign for my bedroom wall, can you send it?”
One more was during an Avett Brothers concert at Interlochen near Traverse City, Michigan, where Scott Avett took my sign from my hand and danced it with on stage while singing one of my favorite songs. Again I was in the right place at the right time, and I was overcome with emotion and couldn’t hold back the real tears of joy I felt at that moment.. It is moments like that I felt the universe giving me a pat on the back reinforcing and that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do with this life of mine.
Andy-RB: You’ve come out standing tall for sure. And speaking of standing tall, you’re bigger than those yield signs you mentioned earlier. Play any hoop?
Kevin: Ha! I actually got a baseball scholarship to play for High Point University (North Carolina) but tore my rotator cuff. I had a 95mph fastball! I double majored in communications and philosophy there. I went to Gonzaga for my Master’s in communication and leadership. I played a ton of high-level pick up basketball there, but didn’t play on the big boys squad.
Andy-RB: Woa! Sorry bout the injury. Philosophy?
Kevin: In another life I believed it was my purpose to play baseball for a living: I’m happier a greater mission has been revealed. I don’t let things get me down that easily. I have always been a very positive person motivated and inspired by music and writing. I’ve actually written a few books and am currently working on my first memoirs, “Just Living On Caffeine, Dreams & Love”, it is my mission statement as a hopeful romantic.
Andy-RB: Sounds exactly like something the “Good Sign,” Man would do!
Thanks so much to Kevin for his time today and by all means we implore you to get involved with the Good Sign movement. Please visit their website here and order “This is a Good Sign,” pay it forward tools and more here.
Lastly, stay tuned for a brand new line of “This is a Good Sign,” apparel from Retro Brand!
That’s Andy below with his Good Sign and the Heisman at the College Football Hall of Fame.