By Delaney Daly
BEMIDJI – It's Derby season again, as Bemidji’s Babe City All-Stars face the Minneapolis North Star Roller Girls Super Novas on Saturday at the Sanford Center.
This will be the All-Stars’ debut at the Sanford Center.
“We’re happy to try something new,” said team founder and captain Shannon Murray, known on the track as Olive Mayhem.
Murray said the Rollers were approached by Sanford, and took their offer to host a Babe City derby bout as a type of “test run.”
“John Glas is a great venue, and this is a step up,” Murray said, “It’s good to have both options.”
Founded three years ago, the Bemidji Babe City Rollers have sparked up a wide range of local support from Bemidji and surrounding areas.
“We started out with seven or eight girls,” said, Murray, “It has slowly grown.”
The adjective for growth is a relative term, however.
“The league has doubled over the last year,” said Murray, adding that the Babe City Rollers now has a B squad and a C squad.
“We have deep rosters – lots of experience,” Murray said.
The Rollers’ A squad, Babe City All-Stars, consists of veteran players.
“It’s a sanctioned team,” said Murray, “We’re very competitive.”
This weekend, the All-Stars will face formidable competition from their Minneapolis adversaries, the Super Novas.
“The North Star Roller Girls have been around for almost a decade,” Murray said. “They’re very established.”
Establishment is just one of the things that are setting the anticipatory mood for some of the All-Stars.
“One of our skaters, Roxy Solid, also known as Alice Blessing, has a sister on North Star and they will be having their first bout against each other,” Murray said. “Both are pretty nervous.”
“We’re really close, but also very competitive,” Blessing said of her and her sister. “I hope we keep our heads.”
Blessing’s mother, Cindy Burger, confessed she was equally excited and frightened for the upcoming bout in which her daughters will face off.
“My heart is filled with both awe and terror,” Burger said.
“I don’t have a problem if I lose, because I’m the younger one,” Blessing said. “But I’d like to win.”
Burger said that All-Star Roxy Solid “was having so much fun with the sport that her sister, Mary Linda from Minneapolis, decided to also pursue this popular sport last year.”
After attending one of the bouts in Minneapolis, Burger is prepared for the raucous fun that comes along naturally with derby bouts.
“I can’t tell you how pumped I am about this bout,” she said.
This game marks a “pivotal moment,” Murray said.
“We’re restructuring,” Murray said. “People have taken on new roles of leadership.”
More than anything, Murray assured the team has much to be happy about, despite the upcoming rivalry.
“Derby is self-organized, made ‘by the skater, for the skater,’” Murray said. “We’ve been doing everything by ourselves, successfully. It’s amazing.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the bout begins an hour after. Tickets are $8 at the door, and are also available online at ticketmaster.com and at Ticketmaster outlets.
By Delaney Daly