Michelle Loyet

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Anthropology professor, roller derby enthusiast, world traveller

As a new parent, anthropology professor Michelle Loyet thought it would be difficult to take care of an infant with a broken limb.

Loyet skated as a blocker on her roller derby team, Crush, before her daughter was born in November 2014. She occasionally still referees but doesn’t skate on the team to avoid injury. Loyet says the team helped her become more body positive at almost 40-years-old.

AMPERSAND: What do you like about roller derby?

MICHELLE LOYET: I’m not a small person, but that is advantageous when you play roller derby. When I have a jammer who tells me, “I want you in front of me, you protect me from these other blockers,” that helps people who have grown up with the idea that your worth is associated with your weight. [Roller derby] can be very empowering for people who have struggled with body image for a long time. Being strong is more important than being thin.

AMP: How did you get involved in roller derby?

ML: My cousin joined a team and I was always there watching her play. Someone she played with started a new league and asked if I was interested in playing. My answer was “No, you’re ridiculous!” I was almost 40-years-old and not an athletic person. So I started skating with Crush with the thought of just doing it for a couple of weeks and then I’d quit, but I ended up being really good at it.

AMP: When did you become interested in anthropology?

ML: It’s funny, my grandmother used to tell stories about when I was a little kid, like five- and six-years-old. I would tell people all the time that I was going to be an archaeologist and go to Washington University, and I did I went to Washington University andI majored in anthropology. My interest was the Near East and North Africa, where my specialty was animal bone remains.

AMP: What have you yet to do that you want to?

ML: I don’t know if this will be a possibility because of the political situation, but something that I really want to do is share with my husband and daughter some of the amazing experiences that I had in Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Africa. We tried to buy tickets to Egypt a couple of years ago but the revolution happened. I just pray that the area is able to recover because it’s an amazing place, and I would love to be able to show them the amazing things I saw while I was there.

Story by Chelsie Hollis

Photo by Brian Verbarg

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