MARILYH HAGERTY: Women roller skaters get ready to tangle in season openerThe grown-up girls on roller skates, called the Grand Forks Sugarbeaters, are opening their season Saturday evening in the Alerus Center. And Marilyn will be there.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The grown up girls on roller skates, called the Grand Forks Sugarbeaters, are opening their season Saturday evening in the Alerus Center. And I will be there!
From each ticket sold, a $2 donation will be made to the Minnesota-Dakota Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. During half time, artists from Dance Etc will perform. Maria Wharam, 8, who is battling cystic fibrosis, will be given a check and become an honorary Sugarbeater.
The Sugarbeaters are aggressive, loud and fast in their bouts. But in their Forx Roller Derby organization they are professional and ethical. They are, for the most part, women who grew up roller skating. Now in the Roller Derby they are a sisterhood and enjoy a fast moving, physical pace.
I first met them when they helped out with the Fourth of July parade. Then they were in the Potato Bowl parade. They are women on the move!
And they have tough names, Shirley. Heather Larson is Blue Thunder. Then there’s Madame Bamf, Vintage Vixen and Hyenaxena, to name a few. The name Doll Cutter is used by Misty Dahlkoetter who has been clocked at 13 miles an hour. Cheryl Larson goes by the name of Schmylee Rukus.
The Roller Derby women have a version of roller skates they call “quads.” The basic cost is $100, but some have $500 tied up in their skates. They need safety pads for their knees, elbows and wrists. Mouth guards are required. And they wear crash pad linings to protect their hips and tailbones if they fall.
Sugarbeaters range from college students to a retired professor. They practice every week. And they are embarking now on a schedule that will bring the Grand Rapids Iron Range Maidens to Grand Forks in May and a return match in Minnesota in August.
A Roller Derby Guide in the Wall Street Journal says roller derby got its start in Chicago in the 1930s. Today there are dozens of all-women teams.
A game lasts 60 minutes. The jam is a two-minute period during which both teams attempt to score points. The jammer is the scoring player. Blockers are four players who help the jammer score while preventing the other team’s jammer from scoring.
Then there’s the whip. That’s a move usually performed going around a corner. One teammate skates up behind the other, grabs her arm and is whipped forward as momentum is transferred from one player to the other.
And get this, Shirley. There’s a J Block in which a blocker gets in front of her target, swoops her body low and then stands up in a J motion and throws her shoulder into the target’s chest.
When I was reading that in the Wall Street Journal, I kind of cringed. I think I will stick to playing bridge and scrabble. But I have visited with these women in the Forx Roller Derby, and they find the whole thing enjoyable and empowering.
The women are in action around here, Shirley. Tonight the UND women’s basketball team plays Houston Baptist in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. And the women’s hockey team will meet Bemidji State in The Ralph for Friday and Saturday games.
Coach Gene Roebuck has announced this is his final year coaching the UND hoops women. I don’t know whether to kick him in the shins or give him a big kiss.
Love from your sister, Marilyn, waving goodbye to January along the west bank of the Red River of the North.
P.S. Friday is Wear Red day as a reminder of the fight against heart disease in women.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or (701) 772-1055.