You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but three-year Baldwin resident Andrea Bucciano leads a double life.
On one hand, the 32-year-old is a quiet resident of Lancaster Avenue, off Sunrise Highway. She’s a vegetarian. She works at an assisted-living facility in Levittown, teaches psychology as an adjunct professor at St. Francis University and conducts mental health therapy sessions with disabled people. She likes going to NOVI with her fiancé, and they also hit the Irish pub a lot.
But slap a pair of roller skates and fishnets on her and Bucciano transforms into Mean Frostine, the hard-skating, hard-hitting head of coaching for the Strong Island Roller Derby Revolution. The Herald spoke with the Brooklyn-born Bucciano about the sport she loves, the town she lives in and an upcoming bout on Sept. 29.
Baldwin Herald: So … roller derby. How did that come about?
Andrea Bucciano: I played ice hockey for years growing up. I started at 7 or 8 and played all through high school and college. After that, one of my friends told me about derby. She invited me to a practice and it was just super-addictive and awesome. It’s a really tough and challenging sport, but it’s also a community. I’ve been playing for three years now and I’ve met people from all walks of life. I’m hooked.
BH: What’s with the names?
AB: Oh, everyone has a nickname. It’s like an initiation. We barely know each other’s real names. If someone mentions Linda to me, I say, ‘Linda? Who’s that?’ But if they say Serial Mom, then I know whom they’re talking about.
BH: How do you get the names?
AB: You have to earn them. You don’t get called by your nickname until you pass a basic skills test. You have to do 10 laps in two minutes, you have to take a hip check, give hip and shoulder checks. You have to be able to booty block — which sounds funny when I say it, but is important. You have to have agility and be able to weave through obstructions. Once you can pass those tests you choose your name and you’re never known by your real name after that.
BH: We hear you’re in charge of coaching young players into shape. How so?
AB: I’m currently the head of coaching and a team captain. That means I’m in charge of skill development for our skaters. I make sure there are coaches at practices. I train veteran skaters and also set up drills for newer skaters. I try to make sure people don’t get killed.
BH: Do people get killed?
AB: Injuries are part of the sport. I tore my meniscus. We’re whipping and jamming around out there and things happen. One of the women who plays with us shattered her ankle and she came back to play again. Like I said, it’s an addictive sport. We always make a huge deal when someone comes back.
BH: In addition to your coaching role, what do you do for the team?
AB: I try to be an all-around player, to do whatever the team needs at a given time. I’m typically a pivot, but I can also block or jam.
BH: You’re also a martial artist, are you not?
AB: I am. I’ve studied tae kwon do and Shotokan karate. I’m a brown belt.
BH: Do you do anything that doesn’t involve grotesque bodily harm?
AB: Of course. I run a book club in Baldwin. There are about 20 of us, and we meet all over town at neighbors’ houses. We try to read books about important subjects. We recently read a book about World War II and we had a very intense discussion.
BH: Tell us about your upcoming bout.
AB: We’re playing on Sept. 29 at the Sports Arena in St. James. Our team is splitting into two rival squads for one night only, so we’ll be taking on our sisters for the first time. Also, because Long Island has such a strong tradition of women in aviation, we started our league with a military theme. A portion of the proceeds from the bout on the 29th will go to benefit the Wounded Warriors.
BH: Anything else we should know about you?
AB: I can quote old-school rap lyrics from memory.
BH: Really? Finish this lyric: I came in the door/I said it before …
AB: I never let the mic magnetize me no more?
BH: Nailed it.