‘Mad Assassin’ kills it on and off the track

New derby recruit says she found a family through sport; teammate says she’s a ‘powerhouse’



Mattie Cessnun, aka Mad Assassin of the Rolling Hills Derby Dames, talks about her love of skating and what it’s like to be a part of her derby team on Feb. 13 at Panhandle Cone & Coffee in Moscow, ID.

HAYDYN WALLENDER, Evergreen reporter

The Rolling Hills Derby Dames have been ripping up the Palouse since 2010, where members of all backgrounds, experiences and careers are welcome to join.

“We have a wide variety of people,” Mattie Cessnun, a member of RHDD, said. “We have moms, people who are chemical engineers, realtors [and] students.”

As a new member, Mattie Cessnun, or “Mad Assassin” to her teammates, has been skating with the RHDD for about six months. There was a required skate class for new members, as well as a written test for her to be a part of the team, she said.

“I’m surprised I did it so fast,” she said. “It’s really easy to learn; I didn’t know anything about skating before I started.”

Teammate Nichol Fletcher, or “Crash Bandicute” has been skating with Cessnun for about three months, she said, and has a similar background in skating. After skating with Cessnun at a one-on-one practice, she said that Cessnun is the “strong but silent type.” 

“She’s very comfortable with herself,” Fletcher said. “In the beginning, she intimidated me a bit, but I feel a lot more comfortable with her: she’s really kind, and puts off a strong, confident vibe.”

Cessnun is involved as more than just a member: she serves on the board as the marketing chair for the team, which happens to be her major, she said. There are general members, as well as board members who hold positions, but according to Cessnun, each person contributes to the team, she said.

“It takes a lot to run the team,” she said. “We run our track under the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association … it does say ‘women’ in the title, but we are open-gender.”


Jessie McCleary, or “Ash Kik’r,” has only known Cessnun a few months. However, she said from the time she met Cessnun to now, she is “just as confident and determined as the first day I met her.”

“Cessnun is a powerhouse on the track,” McClearly said. “She works so hard, and has taken a position on the board after not being with us for very long. She is organized, and a huge asset to our team.”

Before she came to Moscow, where Cessnun goes to school, she lived in Potlatch, where a few friends had been in the league and encouraged her to join, she said.

“I really got a family from it, even though I’ve been there for a short amount of time,” she said.

Located at Gladish Community Cultural Center in Pullman, Cessnun and her team practice with a coach. There are different skating techniques, scrimmages and endurance drills that occur at each practice, she said. Bruises happen often, she said.

“It depends on the day … sometimes you fall on a skate and it just gets you on the buttcheek, and that’s the worst. It hurts,” she said.

In order to skate with the team, you have to pay dues, she said. There is a uniform — a tank top and the required safety gear — but any type of bottom is an option, Sessnun said.

“Spandex shorts, fishnets, leggings, basketball shorts … I don’t think it matters,” she said. 

Sessnun said she loves RHDD because of the people that make up the team.

“Everyone is very accepting of new members,” she said. “[RHDD] gives me a sense of community. It’s a really good sport to get into.”

The Rolling Hills Derby Dames will host their first bout on March 14 at the Gladish Community Cultural Center in Pullman. The time has yet to be set, however an event will be added to the Rolling Hills Derby Dames Facebook page once the time is determined.