October 2010 Featured League: Minnesota RollerGirls

October 6, 2010

The Minnesota RollerGirls went to Thunda on the Tundra to face off against higher ranked rival teams and left that tournament with a ticket to the WFTDA Championships. They are the Cinderella story of the North Central Regional tournament and had fans wearing chest paint in the crowd to prove it. Read more about the girls who skate at the legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium when they are at home in St. Paul...

Photo by Brian Macke, AKA Apron

Saint Paul, Minnesota

How does your season run?
We just switched it up! Our home season consists of 7 bouts at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in the RiverCentre. Four intraleague games are played from October to January and the All-Stars are highlighted in the final 3 bouts of the year.

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
The North Star Roller Girls skate only 10 miles from us!

How many skaters/teams do you have?
Our league consists of 4 home teams that compete against each other as well as an All-Star team. There are up to 20 skaters on each home team. The All-Stars are composed of the finest skaters from the 4 home teams.

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Our league has 4 home teams: The Atomic Bombshells, The Dagger Dolls, The Garda Belts, and The Rockits. The All-Stars are composed of players from all 4 teams. We have an All-Star coach and a Teams and Training Committee that sets the practice structure and organization of the teams on the league. This year we started a farm team called the Debu-Taunts. This is an 18+ clinic held once a week. It is designed to train women interested in learning about the sport. It also offers an opportunity to train for Minnesota RollerGirls' tryouts.

How many days a week do you practice?
We hold practice three days a week. Typical league practice or home team practice lasts two hours, and the All-Stars practice lasts for three hours.

Who is MNRG's biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
Historically, the Minnesota RollerGirls biggest rival has been the Mad Rollin' Dolls of Madison, WI. Our All-Stars have had a whole lot of humbling losses to that fine team! We’ve lost to them at Bumberbout in 2006, the Roy Wilkins in 2006, at the now-infamous Duck Pond Bout (IN THE RAIN we might add) in 2006, and an extremely groggy 8 a.m. game at the Eastern Regional Tournament in 2008. Minnesota was FINALLY able to tick off a W in our column in November 2008 in front of our home crowd! We’ll never forget how loud the Roy was during those last 3-4 minutes as we oh-so-dramatically made up a 20-point deficit to barely squeak out a win. Skating against Madison during the semi-finals at Thunda on the Tundra last month was a HUGE honor.

Our more recent rival would be The North Star Roller Girls who skate in St. Paul's Twin City, Minneapolis. We’ve only met them on the track once in an official capacity when we hosted the North Central Tournament in 2009, but our league members skate together often and we look forward to future challenges against them.

Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Yellooooo to our lovely WFTDA Apprentice Program leagues: Mississippi Valley Mayhem, Old Capitol City Rollers, and the Auld Reekie Rollergirls. We also can’t forget about our broseph league the T.C. Terrors, our Minneapolis sisters The North Star Roller Girls, and the adorable Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby!

What are the individual challenges of your city?
We have two leagues in very close proximity. It’s only natural that the average “What’s this roller derby thing?” person may have some confusion about which league is which.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
Delicious PBR Beer of course! Pizza Luce also falls into the delicious category and Fiant Dental has outfitted all of our skaters with mouthguards. 89.3 the Current plugs MNRG into the Twin City airwaves and City Pages always inform the locals about upcoming bouts and events. We also can’t say enough about how well the Legendary Roy Wilkins auditorium treats us.

What are your biggest training challenges?
Overall, we are lucky to have the space that we do at the Roy and the only real issue is dividing up skaters’ time between the All-Star team and the home teams.

Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
Our tireless and oh-so-patient BOD Representatives Rumblebee, Coochie Coup, GoGo Galore, and Mitzi Massacre deserve a whole lotta praise. Also, Flora Flipabitch our accountant extraordinaire, Skullateral Damage our Bout Production Chair, the superfriend team of Vuedoo Prodigy, Rita Rawkus, and John Maddening that set up all of our All-Star games and travel, and don’t forget the stylish jumpsuit/lightup skate-combo of our janitorial artist and photographer Wet Spot!

Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
Y’all took special note of jammers L’exi Cuter, Scarmen Hellectra, Suzie Smashbox, and Psycho Novia, right? Enough said. A very charming girl from Madison by the name of Juke Boxx recently transferred to our league and gives a whole new meaning to the term “triple-threat”. Other skaters you may freely admit to being scared of include Vuedoo Prodigy, Tiki Torture, Venus Thightrap, Diamond Rough, and our newest All-Star rookie Killaman Jaro (we call her Man Jar).

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We’re very fortunate in that we get to practice and bout at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium! There are always two tracks set up and plenty of space for four home-teams to run practices simultaneously.

MNRG was ranked NC #7 going into the North Central Playoff tournament, with the first matchup being against the Omaha Rollergirls (ranked NC #10), where you defeated them by more than a 3-1 ratio (144-41). What were some of your expectations going into that first game of the tournament?
We wanted to come into this game and be aggressive. We wanted to control the game and make Omaha play our game. We didn’t underestimate Omaha and went into the second half wanting to increase our aggressiveness and control and not in the frame of mind of protecting what lead we had. MNRG played the same roster against Omaha that we did Detroit and Madison. There was none of this "resting" our better skaters in anticipation of an easy game. We weren’t looking past the first round and really wanted to use this game to work the nerves out and show everyone, including ourselves, that we could play up to our potential.

Wow, going into the playoff as the #7 seed, your second game at the North Central Playoffs was against the NC #2 seed, Detroit, where everyone felt you were destined to stop in your tournament contention, especially because you were down at the half 52-37. What was that halftime like and how did it feel to power back and take that bout with a shocking 19-point win (118-99) that knocked Detroit out of the Championships?
While we think a lot of people might have looked at the score at the half and thought, “Boy, Detroit has their number”, we went back to the locker room saying, “Holy crap, we are really still in this game.” At that point we knew that we could compete at that level and were confident that if we made a few changes and went out and really gave it our all, we could pull it off. One of the great inspirational quotes of the weekend came from our coach, Dantigravity, when he said during this halftime “It’s not illegal to be awesome. I checked.” When that bout ended, we were all just really proud of each other and excited that the teamwork had really come together at the right time.

Your third game at the Playoffs was against very agile NC #3 Madison - this bout was quite the nail biter as each team went back and forth for the lead, but it seems that your jammer adjustments ended you on top with this extremely close match (final score 119-107). To what do you attribute this huge win? And what skaters couldn't you have done it without?
Once again, we think just believing that we belonged there and wanting to show ourselves and everyone that the Detroit game was not some fluke really helped motivate us. We attribute the win to the fact that the skaters were working so well together and that we have a diverse team of people who are both great jammers and great blockers. So if something wasn’t working for whatever reason, we could change it up and try something new. We’d like to name names, but the regional bouts were ones that were undeniably a team effort and without everyone’s contribution the outcome may have been different.

Photo by Bruce Berna

In your last bout of the tournament, you faced off against the big NC #1, Windy City (Chicago defeated Minnesota 132-83). How did it feel for your team to have their Cinderella story, to come that far in one long weekend even with the loss against WCR?
Even the loss to Windy City was a small victory. We certainly played better against them than we had in the last few meetings. And we were particularly proud of the team for coming back stronger in the second half and not giving up, even with Windy City holding a significant point lead going into it. Throughout the weekend we definitely enjoyed all the crowd support and that people really did seem to be enjoying our success right along with us. Not to mention our hometown fans that traveled to see us and cheer us on. It really was an amazing weekend for all of us.

Any predictions for Championships this year and how MNRG will fair against their steep competition - still yet to be determined?
We’re going to take it bout by bout. And as long as we play together as a team and give it all we have, we will be extremely proud of what we have accomplished this season.

Is there any other information that you would like to share with wftda.com? Upcoming plans for 2010, other tournaments you'll participate in, big road trips, etc?
Never underestimate the power of the "minivan". You've been warned.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
Thank you!!!
From all the people who left their shirts at home for bodypaint, to the Superfans traveling with us and all the friends and family who come to every home bout - you're so much a part of this league and we thank you for supporting us and making it possible for us to play this awesome sport.

Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you'd like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact webmaster@wftda.com

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.