The title Derby Widow is a special honor only bestowed on the most unselfish and supportive individual. It refers to a husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner who “loses” their loved one to roller derby. They are the ones who watch the children while their wives get up at 7AM to roller skate, are generous with the massages and hot baths, brag about their derby girl’s bumps, bruises and scrapes, and dress up in special “boutfits” the day of our bouts and scream and cheer with their other fellow derby widows. It’s a title that represents love because it is only love and regard that can whole-heartedly support time that might go toward them, going toward 70 rowdy women on rollerskates. What most people don’t know is that when a derby girl signs up for roller derby so does their partner. Being a part of roller derby is being a part of something bigger than yourself. And being involved with someone in it, is in a sense, giving them to the world. The Roller Derby World.
It seems, historically, that with time, people settle. New opportunities are for the young. The chance to make a difference graduates along with the college degree. People become limited by their own lives. It’s easier to sit back and let the trivial monotonies of life take charge... And then there are people like Ashley Morris and Hana Morris, aka “Soviet Block.”
Soviet grew up in Czechoslovakia, which was a part of the Soviet Block (controlled by the Soviet Union, but not a part of it). She was brought to New Orleans by way of her husband of nine years, Ashley Morris. They moved back to New Orleans in December after Katrina (the first ones on their block) and had their third child, ten days later. Soviet, a polyglot, self-proclaimed “eco-freak” and kick-ass cookie decorator, soon became curious about roller derby. Never being on skates before, Soviet quickly became hooked and fell in love with everything about roller derby. “I always hated sports,” Soviet said, “because people got mad at me for being clumsy. BERGers keep telling me that I will get there one day and they keep cheering me on. It is like having 70 best friends!”
MILF Duds remembers the time when Soviet became frustrated after a week of particularly grueling practices and went home discouraged and in tears. It was then her husband surprised her with a custom pair of Reidell speed skates, red leather uppers with yellow stripes. They were breathtaking! According to MILF, “In my mind, that was the killinest act of love for a derby wife.” Derby girls crowded around Soviet for weeks and enviously “oohed” and “ahhed” over her gorgeous skates. That weekend, her spirit rejuvenated, Soviet skated four more laps necessary to pass the required assessment.
Unfortunately, with the heaviest heart, the term derby widow took on a tragic new meaning last week. Soviet’s husband, Dr. Ashley Morris, PhD passed away on April 2, 2008. He was a husband, father, teacher, scientist, musician, and above all, an active voice in New Orleans. While Ashley is remembered all over the city for his fiery spirit, passion, activism and dedication to our city, we at The Big Easy Rollergirls memorialize him for his love and dedication to his wife. Their incredibly hectic lives were already filled with sacrifices to each other, their friends and their community. Ashley, with his generous heart, was able to give yet another sacrifice – allowing his sensitive, creative, and witty wife to become a bad-ass rollergirl. The Big Easy Rollergirls are all better individuals for knowing Soviet Block and having her become a part of our organization. We deeply appreciate Ashley for his benevolent nature and passionate recognition of all that is convivial and all that is worth rejoicing. Thank you, Ashley Morris.
As various local groups prepare a benefit, there are major obstacles looming for the family, including five-figure expenses for the funeral.
Please give what you can. Even a few dollars here and there can add up. There are needs that CANNOT WAIT on the fund raising events.
At present, anyone who wants to donate some money to help Soviet and her children should go to Remember Ashley Morris
There's a Paypal button at the bottom of the page that will take you to the Paypal website and the appropriate email address to send the funds to. It will take you, at the absolute longest, 5 minutes to do this, and every little bit helps.
If you wish to mail a donation make the check out to Hana Morris and send it to:
Big Easy Rollergirls
P.O. Box 19751
New Orleans, LA 70179
If you wish to become involved in the benefit events, donate art for auction, or assist in some other way please contact
SmasHer at firstname.lastname@example.org,
MILF Duds at email@example.com
Loki at firstname.lastname@example.org