What's Up South Texas!: Girl turns being bullied into passion for roller derby

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Being bullied has always had a major impact on one San Antonio 14-year-old, which is why she has transformed her life from being a victim to being a confident roller derby athlete.

“Roller derby is a high contact sport on wheels,” said Brenna Schrade. “Most people describe it as football on wheels but without the ball.”

Schrade’s journey with the sport started with her experience in public school.

“I used to go to public schools, where I used to get bullied by other people,” Schrade said. “Everyone wanted to be alike, and that is not me. It started in the first and second grade, where other kids would just sit there and call me names because I didn’t look like everyone. I was also very good at schoolwork. There was this one girl that would just pick on me and pick on me and pick on me, and the teachers really didn’t do anything about it.”

That bullying began to take its toll on Schrade.

“I wasn’t very happy,” Schrade said. “It wasn’t very fun. Didn’t really have anything to do because I am sitting there constantly thinking about what happened at school and how I don’t want to go back.”

She said one day, she had enough.

“One of them walked passed me and said, ‘Ew, shoot it,’ and that was not OK,” Schrade said. “I don’t think anyone should be treated like that. You don’t know what people are going through. They may be going through something very difficult that you have no idea about, and saying that one thing can make somebody snap and they don’t want to be here anymore.”

That was the day she and her mother decided that Texas Online Preparatory School would be safer for her to continue her education.

“It has been great,” Schrade said. “I am in all pre-AP and AP classes, so that is fun. I also get to look anyway I want to without people judging me all the time.”

Being with TOPS, Schrade also knew she wanted to do something else, as well.

“I didn't have anything to do so my mother came up with the idea of, ‘Let’s do a sport.’ So me being me, I didn't want to any ordinary sport. I wanted to do roller derby."

Starting off, Schrade said the sport was a bit confusing.

“I remember going to my first practice and just seeing a bunch of people skating around in circles and I didn’t know what they were doing,” Schrade said. “I just thought, ‘I am going to suck at this.’”

But for nearly two years, Schrade has learned and nearly mastered the sport, competing with two teams called the Rockin' City Rebels and Texas Junior Roller Derby.

“I have more confidence right now,” Schrade said. “I do get a little aggression, but my mom has said I have to be more aggressive. It is just a lot of fun because now I can do any position I put my mind to. I feel like a part of my style has been influenced by derby because I have seen so many people with these crazy looks and they don’t care.”

Having experience with being bullied, Schrade is also a better leader.

“Whenever I see someone picking or talking about someone on the team, I am the first one to tell that person to stop,” Schrade said.

She goes by Pyretta Blaze when she’s in action.

“My derby name, Pyretta Blaze, is a Type O Negative song, and Type O Negative is mostly black and green.”

You can catch Schrade with a neon green Mohawk, skating with her head held high. She now wants to inspire others to not let bullying stop them from finding their passion.

“If you are being bullied, you can get through it,” Schrade said. “It is not the end of the world. You can use that to find your passion, and even if you are not good at it at first, try it, and if you fail at it, try it again.”

If you know someone like Schrade who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

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