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Summer Hours: Wheels up for UB staff member Midori Ohtake

Midori Ohtake smiles as she catches air above a bowl at the Alix Rice Skate Park in Amherst.


Published June 24, 2022

Editor's note: Summer Hours is a photo series focusing on UB staff members who use the longer days to pursue interesting hobbies, causes and other endeavors outside of their day jobs.

She skates with a smile on her face. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she cheers on friends and strangers alike. Meet Midori Ohtake, director of finance for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and former roller derby girl turned park skater.

“I love being on wheels. Anything on wheels — biking, skateboard, roller skates,” Ohtake said. “I just love moving faster on wheels.”

It’s difficult for Ohtake to quantify the amount of time she spends each week on skates, but she estimates it’s between two and 12 hours. When UBNow met up with her one Sunday evening, she had started skating that day at 10 a.m., hitting two parks in Rochester before ending the night at Alix Rice Skate Park near the North Campus. Even after the sunset, with her gear stored, Ohtake jumped on and off a nearby skateboard as she talked with friends.

Ohtake skates along the vertical sides of a bowl.

Stalling is performed on top of coping or ledges. Ohtake performs a plate stall, landing both feet at the coping (tiled rim of the bowl) on the plates between her wheels. 

“This is great stress relief,” Ohtake said. “Get outside, enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy great people.”

Her skating career began at age 3 when she learned to figure skate. In the early 2010s, she discovered roller derby. With over eight years in the sport, she skated in Buffalo, Chicago and Montreal, as well as served twice as captain for Team Canada Roller Derby at the World Cup in 2014 and 2018. Her derby name is KonichiWOW.

But after several concussions, she stepped away from the full-contact sport and took up skating at the park, “where nobody’s trying to hit me.”

“But some people ‘send it,’” Ohtake said about her approach to trying new tricks and staying safe. “I like more ‘snail mail it.’ I just get there when I get there. I practice all the side skills before I just go for it.”

A close-knit community surrounds Ohtake. She almost always skates with Darcie Rosinski (aka Ro), a friend from her roller derby days, who says they often don’t make a specific plan, but just end up at the park together.

The sunset is a perfect background for Ohtake's kickup stall — a one-foot stall while the other leg is kicked high into the air.

In a lighter moment, Ohtake shows off her balance while skateboarding in her roller skates. It’s not easy: Just ask her videographer, who tried — and failed — the same trick.

“I think what’s amazing about Midori is that she’s so curious and learning,” Rosinski said. “It’s always a journey where it’s like, ‘oh, let’s learn this.’ And then we work it out in our brains and communicate, and then we do it.”

Recently, skating has allowed Ohtake to travel more and encourage another generation of skaters as she helps friends at different teaching programs. It’s this sense of community that Ohtake says she loves.   

“Even though it’s an individual sport, the camaraderie is still like a team,” Ohtake said. “I think I’ll skate for a really long time. I don’t think I’ll ever stop skating.”

Midori Ohtake has worked at UB for five years and was recently named the director of finance for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Her favorite place to skate is in Jamestown.

Editor's note: UBNow is looking for faculty and staff members who pursue interesting hobbies, causes and other endeavors outside of their day jobs. Contact University Communications photographer Meredith Forrest Kulwicki.


Great article! Way to represent, Midori!

Andrew Munro