Q&A: Candace "Chainsaw" of the Ohio Roller Girls

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Ohio Roller Girl Candace “Chainsaw” Moser-Stafford lives and breathes roller derby. The 32-year-old wife, mother and photographer considers playing roller derby the only way to quench her thirst for winning, while simultaneously purging herself of stress with every hit she takes. In recent years, “Chainsaw” and fellow Ohio Roller Girls have moved up in national rankings and continue to beat powerhouse teams both in the U.S. and internationally. Catch them in action at their next home game on Saturday, March 28 at the Ohio Expo Center.

Rollerderby was one of the main reasons I moved to Columbus. I’m from the Yellow Springs area, and there isn’t anything like that out there. I basically grew up on skates because my father worked at Skyborn Skateland in Fairborn, and I was looking for a competitive sport to play in adulthood. I didn’t know anything about roller derby at all. I knew it was a sport, and I knew it involved skating and hitting people, so I knew I wanted to do it. I moved up here for tryouts. I found out I made the team on a Friday, and on Saturday I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. So I had to wait until she was three to try out again. I’ve been with the Ohio Roller Girls ever since. Roller derby allows me to sate the very strong desire I have to beat everybody at everything. There isn’t one person on the team who isn’t as cut-throat competitive as I am.

Rollerderby is a cerebral game. People don’t think of roller derby as a sport. Having played sports my whole life, I know how much strategy is involved in roller derby. It’s more complicated than most sports because you’re playing offense and defense simultaneously. It’s very cerebral, and that surprises a lot of people. I’m a notorious single-tasker, so that was a learning curve for me. I remember watching my first scrimmage thinking it was a big clusterfuck. This is just a big ball of people. But once you start playing, you realize there is so much stuff happening all at once. Even after all my training, I felt like a kindergartener with no pads on playing against a champion high school football team at my first scrimmage.

If you’re not hitting somebody, you’re not playing roller derby. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to hit somebody with full body contact and not get in trouble. It’s a stress reliever! I am a more relaxed person in my everyday life because of roller derby. I like to find better and more efficient ways to hit people. I wake up at 4 in the morning and can’t stop thinking about how to stop people from scoring points or hitting them. People don’t realize derby is an endurance sport. Try sprinting on a treadmill and have somebody hit you with a foam mallet as hard as they can for an hour. You have to have killer conditioning to play. I hate exercising. I will not exercise unless it’s a sport. I exercise outside of roller derby only because I want to win at roller derby. Most derby members are gym rats, and I have to compete with them for roster spots — so it pushes me to stay in shape. I actually broke my back at a scrimmage, and I kept playing the whole season with a chair brace because I would rather play with a broken back than not play at all.

When I first started, Ohio Roller Girls were ranked in the mid-40s nationally. The top 40 teams get to progress to the championships. We were right there! In 2013 we went to the championships. Only 12 teams in the world get to go, and we made it. We’re lucky that Columbus is a big enough city to get a good mix of people. We are still a small league compared to other places, but in the last few years we’ve moved up 20 or so ranking spots, which is huge. I wish derby didn’t get overshadowed by other sports in Columbus, because we are a really good team.

In May my daughter turns seven, and she can’t wait to join roller derby. She loves watching me play and coming to the games — she is sort of like our team mascot. I love seeing the pictures people take of her screaming her head off at my scrimmages. When we beat power-house Montreal one year, we took our victory lap and she reached out to me as far as she could to hug and congratulate me. That was an awesome feeling.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Age: 32

Day job: Photographer

Hometown: The sticks

Current neighborhood: Gahanna

Currently listening to: Cloudkicker and Conversion Delay


Playing favorites:

Favorite movie: "Blade Runner"

Favorite TV show: "Squidbillies"

Favorite book: "Dune"

Favorite restaurant: Da Levee

Favorite cocktail/beverage: Kraken + Mexican Coke

What makes you mad: "Not being tall enough to reach the cans on the second shelf of the


What do you never leave home without? "My baby. It's against the law."

What is the best way to spend $10? "Get nine of your friends together for group tickets to see the Ohio Roller Girls play some derby."