Roller derby team opens home season

Katie Bultman

Dead River Derby, the women’s roller derby league in Marquette, is hosting the first home bout of the 2014 season at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at Lakeview Arena. Emily Whittaker, who is currently taking classes at Northern Michigan University, is one of the team members who helped organize the league in 2012.

Dead River Derby is a women’s roller derby league out of Marquette. The 2014 season opens at home this weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26 in Lakeview Arena. The team consists of women in Marquette County and surrounding areas, including several Northern Michigan University students. (Courtesy of Dead River Derby)
Dead River Derby is a women’s roller derby league out of Marquette. The 2014 season opens at home this weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26 in Lakeview Arena. The team consists of women in Marquette County and surrounding areas, including several Northern Michigan University students. (Courtesy of Dead River Derby)

“It’ll be the first bout this season,” Whittaker said. “We should have a very good show, attendance-wise. Last year we averaged about 800 people.”

The women will open the season against Kingsford Krush, out of Kingsford, Mich.

Kingsford Krush was the first flat-track roller derby league to be founded in the Upper Peninsula, according to their Facebook page.

Dead River Derby consists of 17 female athletes between the ages of 18 and 45.

The women live in the Marquette county area, with several from Big Bay, Gwinn, Ishpeming and Munising.

Whittaker said the team works together very well.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on the team, and a lot of very powerful girls, and it makes us very strong opponents against other teams,” Whittaker said. “We practice a lot and study up. Last year we had two nationally-acclaimed skaters come and do a workshop. We are definitely active, always improving and picking up new tools.”

The women practice twice a week for six hours. Their off-season runs from November to December, and the team travels to away games in addition to the home bout season.

Whittaker said Dead River Derby will travel to places including the Keweenaw, Cheboygan, Lansing and Wisconsin.

Senior NMU nursing major Kelsey Cook also plays for Dead River Derby.

“Roller derby has made a huge impact in my life,” Cook said. “I love the physical and mental challenge of it.”

General tickets may be purchased in advance for $8 or at the door for $10. There are also VIP tickets available for $25, which can be purchased through the website www.deadriverderby.org.

Whittaker said the event is not only for spectators, it can also be a place for prospective athletes.

“It’s definitely action packed for the spectators, very exciting,” Whittaker said. “We’d love to see new faces. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this sport if you’re curious. If interested we’ll have information about the league.”

For the spectators, Whittaker said there will be beer sales, food, a halftime show and merchandise.