Friday, March 14, 2008

Rollergirls: the Chance of a Lifetime

by Andrew Bailey
Sports & Clubs Editor

Photo: Rollergirls! Council Members from right: Marissa Balahura, Bryndis Ogmundson, Shannon Marie

It all started on August 13th, 1935, smack in the middle of what is now considered to be the “Great Depression.” People were bummed and Seabiscuit wasn’t exactly the hope-lifting phenomenon that Tobey Maguire would have you believe. A new dance marathon craze was sweeping the nation, which featured shiny nerds dancing horribly with other shiny nerds; it was truly an abysmal time for everyone. That is until Chicago promoter Leo Seltzer came up with a concept that would evolve into one of the greatest spectator sports that I have ever known, and I’m a single dude with an intense cable package who rarely leaves his couch, so that’s saying something.
To compete with the dance marathon craze sweeping the nation Seltzer came up with the first ever Roller Derby. Unlike the mega-sport which we know it as today, Seltzer’s Roller Derby consisted of just one man and one woman teams skating around a track showcasing endurance, it was kind of like cross country skiing, sort of. The sport remained like this until cultural genius, and my personal hero, New York sportswriter Damon Runyan went to a Roller Derby event in 1938 and saw two skaters tussling with each other for a short while and realized immediately how this sport needed to evolve. Soon fierce all-girl Roller Derby leagues were created, demonstrating speed, skill, and toughness. The rest, as they say, is history as such heroes as Midge “Toughie” Brashuhn and Gerry Murray catapulted Runyan’s concept into a widely beloved sport that Uncle Leon and the Alibis sing about so fondly in their hit “Roller Derby Saved My Soul.”
Today’s sport is a hybrid of passionate, durable, young women who compete and have loads of fun by creating unique personas and wearing flashy kick-ass outfits.
Now on to the tremendously terrific news that Andrew Bailey is absolutely stoked about: Thanks to the first ever recipient of Bailey’s heroes award, Bryndis Ogmundson, women in Prince George have the incredible opportunity to participate in the Roller Derby phenomenon. Bryndis has won hero status among her peers, with the help of a small group of ladies in town, by creating an all-female Roller Derby League in Prince George. If you’re a woman reading this article and are over the age of 19 than I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this fantastically unique opportunity. No pre-requisites or any type of athletic ability is needed, and there will be plenty of practices for interested women to take part in before any teams are finalized to give every woman a chance to learn the sport and build on their ability, most notably how to skate on four wheeled shoes. Seriously ladies, dudes dig Rollergirls in the biggest of ways, and it is also an amazing way to meet interesting and fun women like yourself and build incredible relationships in a team dynamic, as well as participating in a sporting event while dressed like a total rockstar! Practices start soon and, as this is a new league, there is tons of space for all women interested. If you can’t skate, or have never even heard of Roller Derby before it does not matter, just come out and participate in practices, because every other woman will be starting from the same place you are, and everyone will develop their skills together.
If you are interested, and you bloody well better be, information and sign up sheets are available at Meow Records downtown (100-300 Brunswick St.), or through Bryndis Ogmundson (pictured next to this article) who is an extremely nice and tremendously approachable lady, usually found around the radio office or Meow Records, and would be ecstatic to answer any questions you may have. If you can’t find either Meow Records or Bryndis, then come by the newspaper office and I’ll point you in the right direction. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by as it will give you a lifetime of memories and stories to trump other ladies at parties. “Oh you won the Nobel prize last year? Well I was a flippin’ Rollergirl!” You’ll see who people are more interested in.
Dudes can also participate through a variety of volunteer opportunities, I myself will be volunteering and really guys, seriously, its Rollergirls, get a clue and get involved. Class dismissed.

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