By Jasmin Clardy
Harbor Tides Staff Writer
Andrea Cano isn’t your typical ESL professor. She’s a bundle of unwritten social contradictions: A compassionate educator, Fulbright Fellow, avid fencer and a roller derby daredevil. Don’t ask her to pick her favorite thing: she has a strong desire for all of them.
Born in Santa Monica and raised in Seal Beach, she always had a knack for sports. As a youth she participated in gymnastics. She wanted to expand her sportsmanship in a sport that would give her a more social and team-oriented workout.
“I always wanted to do exercise, but I hate the gym,” she said. “It’s so boring and there’s no goal.”
Later she started to participate in fencing under the foil category. Foil fencing is the original type of fencing where the goal is to target hit your opponent strictly in the torso area. The opponent who attacks first gets the point.
Cano did fencing for seven years at the Los Angeles Fencing Center with coach Derek Cotton, who was a fencing referee in the Olympics.
“Fencing is more of a solitary sport because it’s all on you, but I do get a lot of anger out on the strip,” Cano said.
After watching the Los Angeles Derby Dolls in action at the roller derby, she knew that this was something that she aspired to become.
She began her quest for roller derby greatness in 2012. By March of this year, she sustained her first injury during training. It has not deterred her. “I broke my leg, but I just can’t wait to get back on skates.”
Roller derby consists of five people from each team on a track, for a total of ten players in the rink traveling counter clockwise. Four of the members from each team are considered pack members, who move together slowly and create a block. Two jammers, one from each team, try to break through the packs as many times as they can while lapping the track as fast as possible before time runs out. It’s like a more strategic version of red rover on quad skates. The safety gear consists of wearing a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and a mouth piece for protection.
But sports aren’t Cano’s only passion. She also cares deeply about her field of work. She earned her undergraduate degree in Latin American Literature and city planning from U.C. Berkeley and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Northern Chile.
As a Fulbright Fellow, an exclusive scholar who is recognized all over the world, she speaks three different languages and has traveled to a several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Chile. As part of her Fulbright Fellowship, she taught English composition at the University of Northern Chile for a year. She earned her master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton, where she was recognized as one of 50 outstanding Latino graduates.
Returning to California, Cano took on a plethora of part-time positions, teaching English composition and ESL at a variety of institutions such as Fullerton College, U.C. Irvine, Pasadena City College, MiraCosta College, Long Beach City College, Cerritos College, and Cal State Fullerton. All of which she did before starting roller derby.
Although she uses roller derby primarily as a fun way to stay fit—she does not have professional aspirations for the sport at this time—she is very devoted to it. In fact, in order to break into roller derby, Cano needed to have full health benefits. Even those who just want to train in the sport must have health insurance because it is so dangerous. So she sought a full-time teaching position. She applied to Harbor College last year and began teaching ESL in September.
“When I got hired here, the minute I signed the contract, I started skating,” she said.
She works with a coach three times per week, and hopes to join team in Long Beach soon. But that hasn’t stopped her from picking out her roller derby name, which she proudly displays on her helmet: San Andreas Assault.