Where can we find you on Instagram? @maxwhelp

 Which Five Stride shop do you work in? Brooklyn

 What is your history with roller skating & what type of skating are you into now? I started playing women's flat track derby for Ohio Roller Derby in 2011, after my time playing collegiate hockey ended and I found myself really missing skating and longing for more competitive team sport experiences. I truly wasn't sure what to expect, did not know any of the rules, and saw my first derby game maybe a week before tryouts. 

I skated with Ohio from the 2011-2017 seasons, during which we stayed competitive at Division I regional and playoff level tournaments, making a bid for Champs in the 2013 Season, skating against the reigning champs, Gotham in the semi finals. After losing that game, I made a promise to myself that I would be back to take the track with Gotham in whatever way I could in the coming years. 

I opened a skate shop in 2015 to serve my league and local skate community and owned and operated Next Level Skate Shop for the next three years, operating a brick and mortar store, building skates, tabling at tournaments, and coaching leagues around the midwest.

I eventually sold the skate shop to a Burning River Roller Derby skater in Cleveland, where the shop still operates today, so that I could pursue more work in personal training and a graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling. During this time, I took a season off from skating to save some money, focus on all the professional changes in my life, focus on unpacking some long-standing mental health and gender things I had going on, and I coached Ohio Roller Derby’s charter team during that season.

In looking for graduate schools, I primarily looked in cities with WFTDA teams that were top 10 ranked, and settled on NYU, looking ahead to trying out with Gotham and bringing my dreams of taking the track with them full circle.

After getting into NYU and moving to NYC in 2018, I tried out with Gotham and quickly made the All-Stars team, of which I am still a part today. I only got to skate with GGRD for one season before COVID-19 brought derby to a halt.

At this time, I primarily street skate and occasionally park skate. I use skating as a way to get around the city and enjoy continuing to get to know Brooklyn and NYC on wheels. I also have spent some time leaning into dance skating, taking a few lessons with Skaterobics. 

Tell us about your roller skate setups & gear that you love... 

My two favorite setups are my Antik Jet Carbons + Roll Line Killer plates (for derby) and my Vans + Sure-Grip Avanti plates (for commuting, street sessions, and park skating). 

My wheels change depending on the surface, but generally, for derby, I've really loved my Rollerbones Turbo wheels on Gotham's sport court, and my dual durometer Reckless Morph wheels on most concrete surfaces. For park and street I waffle between the Moxi Fundaes, which are kind of my all-around go-to, and my CIB Street wheels, which are my concrete park wheels (and occasional street wheels). 

Bearings-wise, I split my love and devotion between the Bones family of bearings (with REDS and Big Balls being my favorites), and Reckless Moto bearings. Of all the gear I've worked with, Bones makes some of the most consistent products I've seen. 

I'm always on a big chunky toe stop. On my Killer plates, it's the Roll Line Large Hockey toe stop. On my Avantis, I wear Gumball's Superball toe stops. 

Protective gear wise, with derby, I'm a huge S1 and 187 fan. I've been wearing S1's knee pads since they first came out, and last season that we skated (boooo COVID!) I excitedly wore S1's elbow pads that they have been working on. Excellent fit & excellent quality, IMO. And I'm a dedicated 187 derby wrist wearer. I love the "palm-guard" style and that I have a little more dexterity with these guards, so I don't have to take them all the way off to tighten my skates, open my water bottle, make notes when I'm coaching, etc.

I'm also a hockey helmet person. I am a pretty aggressive and "head first" jammer type, not to mention kinda moderate in size, so my face ends up right where people are swinging their elbows or flailing their hands. Hockey helmets tend to have face shields that reach a little bit lower than some of the derby face-shield helmets on the market, so I find my nose and mouth are better protected from impact. I also love that the helmet sits a little more snug and further down on the back of my head, which makes me feel more secure. 

For park and street skating I don't usually want as much bulk as when I'm playing derby, so I wear 187's Fly knee pads, 187 derby wrist guards, and my S1 helmet, since I don't need a face shield. No elbow pads, usually, because I like ~moderate~ amounts of risk lol.

What is your favorite skate spot? Coleman LES Skatepark (NY), North Olmstead Skatepark (OH), streets of NYC (Brooklyn or Manhattan!), anything polished concrete and, of course, the GGRD Crashpad (RIP).

What's your favorite thing about working at Five Stride? I love getting into the nitty gritty details of skates with folks. I love problem solving and talking specifics (sometimes to a fault); why things are made a certain way, all the adjustment details of a specific plate (how to adjust that pivot pin so it's just right!), the differences between plate models and materials, explaining why we mount the way we do, figuring out and explaining why your plate is doing that weird thing, etc. And I just generally love making sure customers are getting into something that's not just good quality, but a good fit for their specific needs and desires. [Plus I get to work with my friends (=^ω^=)!!]

Tell us one fun fact about yourself that isn't related to roller skating! When I'm not at the shop, I work as a therapist with queer, trans, and/or neurodivergent folks! It's a big part of my life and another huge passion of mine

What do you love most about roller skating? The freedom of expression it allows me, through movement, and the connection it facilitates for me with my body. As well as the relationships that skating has helped me foster over the years