By Melissa Mendonca
Amanda Wigno Harter’s Love for Derby and Community
On any given weekday, the only indication of Amanda Wigno Harter’s weekend occupation may be a vestige of leopard print polish on her well-manicured nails. Most who know her as the event coordinator of marketing and communications at College Options may have no idea that the mild-mannered 27-year-old has quite the reputation as Swift D. Mize, a star jammer with Shasta Roller Derby.
Always an athlete, Harter came upon roller derby at a memorial service for her husband Austin’s good friend, Cori Fulkerson. Known as Princess Slaya in the derby world, Fulkerson had been a Redding Roller Girl. At a memorial bout in her honor, Harter found what would become a passion.
“The second I sat down to watch it I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to do this,’” she says. Six months after the memorial, the Shasta Roller Derby club formed with a schedule that meshed with Harter’s work and community commitments. “I went out and tried it and fell in love immediately,” she says.
Despite having a larger frame than most in her position, Harter found her place as a jammer. That’s the position that scores points by literally jamming ahead of her opponents. And earned her the name Swift D. Mize.
“You never know what’s going to make a good derby girl,” says Harter. For her, an important aspect of the game is the constant interplay between offense and defense. She just finished up a year as captain of the Shasta Roller Derby’s A Team, where she focused on developing the skills and strategies of her skaters.
As she moves into a new year of skating, she is focused more on the development of the team’s organization by serving as chair of its board. “Our league is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,” says Harter. “It’s important that we give back.”
Giving back comes naturally to the skater, who is on the leadership team of Expect More Tehama.
“My mom’s a teacher so I grew up understanding the importance of education,” she says. “Expect More Tehama is a community driven effort that recognizes that higher education affects so many aspects of our community.”
Combining the philosophy of Expect More Tehama with the entry into her husband’s family through a summer marriage, Harter has become the scholarship coordinator for the Redding Emblem Club. “Austin’s family has always been involved in Emblem Club,” she laughs. “(The position) was a rite of passage into the family.”
Harter has also taken her leadership skills to the board of the State Theatre for the Arts, which recently had a mortgage-burning party for the historical building that is a fixture of downtown Red Bluff.
“I danced on that stage when I was younger and I sang on that stage when I was in high school. It was really exciting to think about the theater being community owned and being part of those changes,” she says of her decision to join the board at the critical juncture of moving from private to community ownership.
While Harter has deep roots in Tehama County, she found herself challenged when she took a job in Redding and had to develop a wider network of contacts. Having enjoyed the training of the Great Valley Center’s Institute for Development of Emerging Area Leaders, she sought out the same in Leadership Redding. “There’s so much positive energy there,” she says. “I enjoy getting to know the North State better.”
While she says, “I never really had that urge that I had to get out of Red Bluff that some people did,” she has always had a passion for travel. She participated in two study abroad programs while at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and took a remarkable trek through Ireland, Scotland and Italy with her mom.
Her derby skills recently gave her an opportunity to compete at a national level in Tulsa, Okla., as part of a regional pick-up all-star team called Suburban Legends. “For a team that had never played together before regionals, and for a group of girls that doesn’t usually play by this rule set, we did OK,” she says of her placing with the U.S. Association of Roller Sports.
Harter has achieved a rare combination of work, community and personal achievement that makes North State living so appealing to a young professional. As she moves forward in support of young people seeking higher education, she plans to pass on what she has been given. “It’s about connecting people with their passions,” she says.