Season underway for Grand Forks' roller derby team
The Sugar Beaters have a total of four games this season with the next game scheduled for June 25 at the Blue Line Club Arena in Grand Forks
GRAND FORKS — After two years of not being able to compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 season has kicked off for Grand Forks’ roller derby team, the Sugar Beaters.
Sky Gabel, who has been on the Sugar Beaters for about a year, said the pandemic not only canceled roller derby games, also known as “bouts,” but has also affected the number of roller derby teams in the region.
“There have been maybe two or three teams in North Dakota that have sort of just disappeared,” Gabel said.
The Sugar Beaters have seven team members, though Gabel said were more on the team before the pandemic.
The first game of the season was held on May 21, and the next is scheduled for June 25 at the Blue Line Club Arena located at 1900 S 25th St.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the game starts at 7 p.m. For those who bring their own chair, they'll get entered into a raffle. Kids are free and adults are $5.
Gabel said there are a total of four bouts scheduled for this season, including two home games and two away games.
The Sugar Beaters compete against other roller derby teams across the region including the Fargo/Moorhead Derby Girls, the Bismarck/Mandan BisMan Bomberz, the Sioux Falls Roller Dollz and the Watertown Kampeska Krushers.
The season will wrap up in September, though Gabel said the team practices year-round. In the winter months the Sugar Beaters typically practice at the Crookston Armory and once hockey season is over the team then practices in the Blue Line Club Arena.
Right now Gabel said new player recruiting events are coming up on June 30 and July 7 to build the team back up.
The Sugar Beaters is open to anyone 18 and older. While the team is currently made up of women, Gabel said they are very inclusive and the team is open to people who are gender noncomforming. Knowing how to skate is also not a requirement to join the team.
In Grand Forks, Gabel said a lot of people don’t know that the Sugar Beaters exist.
“I was passing out fliers for our games over the past couple of weeks and I heard so many times ‘oh I didn’t know we had a roller derby team,’” Gabel said.
Once people are aware of the team, Gabel said people get excited to attend the games and cheer them on.
“It’s just a really fun sport,” Gabel said.
To learn more about the Sugar Beaters, check out https://www.facebook.com/forxrollerderby/ .