Today we feature a guest blogger, Red Marauder, the newest addition to the Sugar Beaters-Forx Roller Derby, reflects on her experience joining the league…
You can’t fight who you are. Or at least you shouldn’t – in my opinion anyway. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out exactly who that is, but once you do and then start to spot things around you that fit you…well, then you need to employ a little carpe diem mentality, grab hold with both hands, hold on and enjoy the ride.
Roller Derby is one of those things for me – it just makes sense. I heard about it a few years ago along with most of Grand Forks but was a little hesitant even though I knew I would absolutely love it. I just wasn’t confident enough to do it. Then a year later, I ran into a few of the derby girls at another event – still, I was hesitant. It’s silly – I just wasn’t sure if my corporate-groomed, seemingly straight-laced self could do something like roller derby. Finally – this winter I ran into them again, and the time was right. To put it simply, in the last year I learned a lot about myself and one was to trust my gut – hence, roller derby finally became a part of my life. I attended one practice and I was hooked.
In the 4 months that I have been a part of Forx Roller Derby I have learned that my path into the sport is unique within the league. However, I am absolutely sure there are women in Grand Forks with whom my story will strongly resonate. It really starts where I grew up –on a farm about 50 miles northwest of Grand Forks, near Pisek, ND. I started skating on the coulee in the cattle pasture behind our house when I was 3. I had hand me down skates from my cousins and I instantly loved it. I don’t remember loving it but my Mom assures me I did. When I was in first grade, I was entered in formal figure skating lessons at the “barn rink” in Park River. It doubled as the Walsh County fairgrounds, hence the name. Local hockey fans know it as the home of the Park River Red Machine and the rink was kept at a steady temperature of “20 degrees warmer than whatever the outside temperature happened to be”. That made for lots of incredibly cold January practices and in March, when the ground would thaw and the snow on the roof would melt, the roof would leak a little and we’d get these yellow bumps on the ice that, as a figure skater, could be incredibly hazardous.
Looking back now, it’s clear those bumps were just preparing me for my future as a derby girl as hazards are more the norm vs. the exception on the derby track. In short, it was a great childhood spent on ice and when my derby teammates say things like “man, we just can’t knock you down!” or “how the heck did she just spin around like that?”…well, I just silently thank my mom and dad for all the hours they drove me and my siblings to practices and sat there watching us, because without all that time spent skating, I simply wouldn’t have the fundamentals I do. I know there are other women here in Grand Forks like me too – and we just need to get more of them to come out and join our team.
So my journey to derby began a long time ago in that respect – skating is the most basic fundamental of playing derby. If you can’t skate you just can’t play. What I admire most about my teammates is watching them simply learn to skate – yes, there are women on this team (who rival me) who never knew how to skate 3 years ago. It is incredible. Everything else we do is built on that – the hitting, the strategy, the plays – it’s all built on skating. Being agile on skates is the key to being successful. It makes you better able to fake out a hit, but also gives you a stronger base to deliver a hit. On a weekly basis my 5’7”, 135lb frame fakes out skaters smaller than me but also blocks skaters taller and bigger than me because I am comfortable taking a low stance and settling in for the inevitable big hit that is headed my way. Surviving it by not falling and seeing her not getting by because of it is incredibly rewarding.
The next time you hear about derby, remember this story and that it is coming from a corporate-groomed, seemingly straight-laced woman. Forx Roller Derby is comprised of insurance agents, stay-at-home moms, professionals working at UND, medical technicians, UND students, child-care providers, editors, retired professors, graphic artists, engineers, HR professionals and photographers. Most didn’t know how to skate when they started and as a lifetime skater I am absolutely amazed at what they have done. Given that most of Grand Forks is familiar with skating, I hope to see many from our community out to watch the first home game of the season (and my derby premier!) this weekend, May 19th, when the Sugar Beaters take on the Iron Range Maidens from Grand Rapids, MN. We are going to put on a show you’ll be glad you didn’t miss…and personally, I am going to be holding on with both hands and enjoying a ride that I’ve been on for many years without even knowing it.
Want to win tickets to see the Sugar Beaters? They have given the Convention & Visitors Bureau a supply to share. Just tells us what you like about roller derby on our Facebook page!