The Kaka Bird is a “feisty mountain parrot”, which has been dubbed “the loud mouth of New Zealand.” Kaká is the name of a great Brazilian soccer player. Tyler Ferguson’s passion has always been, and still is, the sport of soccer. The opportunity to wear the name of one of her heroes on the back of her jersey combined with the description of the kaka bird seemed too perfect for Tyler to pass up. When thinking about using “Kaka”, her husband shouted out “Caliente!” Tyler wasn’t sure about using the name at first. She thought it might sound too cocky and self-centered. But when she ran the name by Truly F Obvious, Truly assured her it was an OK name. At that moment, the fierce Bleeding Heartland Roller Girl now known as “Kaka Caliente” was born. And thank goodness for that! Who doesn’t love to shout the word “kaka” at a bout?
If you’ve seen Kaka jam, you know that she appears to be fearless. She will launch her body in any direction to score points. Kaka says, “I’m kind of [intense] when I try new things. I want to excel, so I throw myself at stuff. Then, at some point, I think, ‘Why am I spending so much time on this?’ I’ve been working on my psyche. I’ve spent the last year trying to strike a balance between derby and other things I love. I allow myself to rest if I’m exhausted. I allow myself to miss practice if there’s a fun event going on. I resist some of the crazy nights out so I can stay home with my sweetie.”
Kaka shares, “I get [extremely] nervous before bouts. I’ve never experienced this before and it’s horrible. Every bout I think to myself, ‘I just can’t do this to myself. It’s not worth it.’ The feeling is with me throughout the entire game. It’s hard to have fun. But after the game is over, my brain starts firing about what happened, how to improve and what we need to try next.”
So, why does she do it? She explains, “I love team sports. I have that gene that allows me to love whatever group of people I’m thrown together with and be totally psyched to work on something together. Also, I love the fitness. I believe in skating as a life of fitness for older adults – maybe not derby, but active roller skating for sure. I love the way it makes [my body] feel. Skating is much more forgiving than running. I love the people too. I have that competitive side that loves competition and team sports, but I also have a creative side that needs to be fed. If I deny the creative side, I get off-balance. Derby is the perfect marriage between athletics and creativity.”
Another reason Kaka loves derby is her firm belief that no athlete, team or coach should ever be bigger or more important than the game itself. Many professional athletes bore her with their arrogance. “They owe their success to the game and the people around them. Playing sports is for the love of the game only. Derby isn’t too full of itself, in my opinion. We are all capable of laughing at ourselves,” quips Kaka. She continues, “I don’t care who the skater is. If they are approached by another skater or a fan, there is only one way to respond. You encourage new skaters and you thank your fans. Period.”
Kaka’s sparkling energy on the track and gutsy moves as a jammer have garnered her many a die-hard follower. When asked how it feels to be admired by fans, she explains, “It’s sort of interesting. It’s really humbling. I don’t think I’ll ever be used to people taking an interest in what I’m doing. It blows me away when people approach me to compliment my play. On another level, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. When I was little, a day didn’t go by where I didn’t fantasize about being the star athlete of some sport. I grew up in the 70’s when women’s sports weren’t celebrated like they are now. Title 9 hadn’t passed yet. There was no WNBA or Women’s National Soccer team or ESPN. Even when I was in college, the women’s soccer team wasn’t recognized as a varsity sport. It didn’t go varsity until 1991, six years after I arrived on campus. So, it was hard to believe you could actually be an athlete ‘when you grew up’. It was just something I pretended.”
But an athlete she has become. And being such, Kaka Caliente has excellent advice for anyone thinking about trying out for roller derby, or any other sport, for that matter: “Don’t be afraid to fall. Fear is the enemy.”
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