McNary student headed to Junior World Cup

Anneke Titus has established herself as one of the best junior roller derby competitors in the world, which is why she will be representing Team USA at the Junior World Cup in August (Submitted).

Anneke Titus, a senior at McNary High, has been competing in roller derby for the last six years.

What started as a fun after-school activity has turned into a deep passion for Titus, which is one of the reasons why she will be heading north of the border this summer. 

Last month, Titus was notified by the Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) that she has been selected to compete for Team USA at the Junior Roller Derby World Cup in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Titus will join a team of 19 other skaters considered to be some of the top junior roller derby athletes in the country.

“I really couldn’t believe that I got in. I started crying as soon as I found out. I know that I’m talented, but I never thought I was at that level,” Titus said. “I still can’t describe how excited I am about it.”

Titus first got into the sport at the age of eight when her mom joined a Cherry City Roller Derby adult team. Three years later, a junior team called the Cherry Blossoms was created, which gave Titus a chance to compete. 

Even though she was only allowed to practice at first and couldn’t make contact with other skaters, Titus fell in love with the sport.

“I was so excited when the junior team started,” Titus said. “This is my main passion. I was always a sporty kid growing up, but I just fell in love with roller derby.”

In roller derby, there are five members of each team that are on the track at the same time (four blockers and a jammer). Each jammer wears a star on their helmet and starts behind the opposing blockers, otherwise known as “the pack.” Jammers score points for every opposing blocker they are able to lap. 

Jams last for two minutes, with a 30-second break in-between to make lineup changes. At the end of two 30-minute halves, the team with the most points wins. 

For the majority of her career, Titus has been a jammer. But over the last two years, she has been able to show her versatility as a blocker. Titus has also recently played the role of pivot — a blocker who is allowed to become a jammer while the action is going.

The pivot is often the team’s most experienced player that can establish strategy during the course of play and set the pace of the blockers. 

“She mostly wanted to be a jammer and wear the star on her cap and score all the points. But she also is great at defense. I know I can count on her to lead the team in that area,” said Chris Austin, who has coached Titus for the last two years. “I forced her to be a captain because I felt like she was someone who wanted to build this thing up.”

While roller derby is an aggressive sport that allows full contact, Titus believes that it’s tamer than what it used to be.

“It’s not how it was in the ‘70s with all the punching and kicking. You do get some nasty shoulders to the sternum, but it’s not as violent as it used to be,” Titus said. 

In her time with the Cherry Blossoms, Titus has gotten the opportunity to compete in bouts with the Rose City Rollers in Portland and even got to go to Los Angeles for a tournament with her Cherry Blossom teammates. 

After seeing growth in her skill level, Austin encouraged Titus to go to Portland for a tryout for the World Cup team. 

In late September, Titus participated in what she called a “grueling” tryout that was focused heavily on conditioning, followed by a two-hour scrimmage.

“I was trembling by the end of it. I was so sore,” Titus said. “It was very physically demanding, but also very fun.” 

A couple weeks later, Titus got the call to join the team.

“It’s the highlight of my athletic career. I never thought I would be up this high,” Titus said. 

“I really have to credit my coaches over the years. I feel like they have really helped me hone my skills, especially in the last couple years. (Austin) has really been helpful to me with the not only the physical part of roller derby but also the mental part. It’s a very mentally challenging sport.”

Austin added: “I went right to tears when I found out. I was very proud of her.”

Titus is required to raise her own money to cover all travel expenses for the trip. Although the JRDA hasn’t given her an idea of how much everything will cost, Titus is hoping to raise $2,000.

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