A little more than a year ago, Bruiseberry Jam played for the Babe City Rollers (BCR) when she lived in Bemidji, where BCR was founded in 2009 by two local women who were inspired by watching a Windy City Rollers (Chicago team) bout.
Teams can grow fast, even in remote parts of northern Minnesota.
In early 2010, BCR had more than 20 skaters, ranging in age from 19 to 55. Their first bout was played in February.
The Goosetown Rollergirls front row, left, Schling Shot, Redhot Rosie, BunnZilla, Sour Kraut, RIP Tease, Grouse, Crystal Balls. Back row, The Fuhrer, Queen Mean Irene, NightMare and Slayla. Not pictured, Deutschland Dolly.
Their team included women with histories of figure skating, softball, skiing, long-distance running. By day they are teachers, musicians, students, conservationists, graphic designers and waitresses.
BCR's website (www.babecityrollers.com) displayed 15 advertising sponsors including a food co-op, electric cooperative, bank, TV, phone and internet provider, pub and restaurant, tattoo artist, food store, graphic design firm and the Bemidji Jaycees.
Bemidji is adding another roller derby team to its league, the Naughty Pines of Laramie, Wyo.
Just when you thought the sport might be gone forever, homegrown, female roller derby teams are springing up across the country. The creative team and player names, colorful uniforms and helmets, knee and elbow pads are back on flat rinks. New teams include New Ulm's Goosetown Rollergirls, a group of 25 women age 21 and up. The women prefer to be identified by their roller derby aliases, but you may recognize them anyway.
When Bruiseberry moved to southern Minnesota, she found herself missing the roller skating team so she became president of the Goosetown Rollers.
The team practices Monday and Wednesday nights on the former New Ulm Middle School auditorium floor and at Riverside Park.
Skaters include a police officer, stay-at-home mom and funeral home employee.
The team is looking for more skating sites that must be at least 100 x 60 feet.
New members, officials and support role volunteers (statisticians, announcers, penalty box keepers, and scoreboard operators) are sought. Skaters must be women 21 or older. Officials must be 21 or older. For more information, e-mail Crystal@firstname.lastname@example.org
Skaters take two skill tests before they can compete. One tests basic skills and has to be passed to be able to play with contact. The second test is about contact skills and must be passed before scrimmaging.
Hip checking is legal but tracks are flat, not banked, in the latest version of roller derby.
Bouts are divided into two 30-minute halves, which are divided into two-minute jams. Ten skaters, five from each team, compete at the same time.
Each team has a jammer (point scorer with star on helmet), a pivot ("quarterback" blocker with stripe on helmet), and three more blockers.
"Packs" are eight blockers from both teams. Blockers try to keep the other team's jammer from getting through the pack, while helping their own jammer through.
Jammers must get through the pack and lap them. On the second and each subsequent lap, jammers get a point for each opponent she passes.
There are 30-second breaks between jams.
"It's a very fast-paced, exciting sport to watch," Bruiseberry Jam said.
Roller derby had a big run in the 1940s that began as a race of sorts and later modified into a bone-crushing contact sport with participants elbowing, kicking and hopping over each other.
In the 1960s, television gave roller derby widespread exposure, although it was often broadcast on Sunday mornings.
Roller derby popularity spiked again in 2005 when the Fort Wayne Derby Girls joined a league that required participants to do community volunteer work.
That theme is continued by the Goosetown Roller Girls who showed up at New Ulm's National Night Out and at various parades this year including Hanska's Sytenndae Mae and New Ulm's Bavarian Blast.
Story, photos by Fritz Busch