League Profile: North Star Roller Girls
Women’s Roller Derby
GLBT + Ally
Season: November – March
Now in their ninth season, the North Star Roller Girls have built a legacy of roller derby in Minneapolis. NSRG formed in June of 2006 as an offshoot of the now-defunct TC Rollers. They loved skating together but desired the control of being skater-owned and -operated. Skaters play a version of the roller derby you may have seen on TV in the ’80s, but on a flat track instead of a banked track. It’s a full-contact athletic competition with rules and regulations. NSRG’s main focus is athleticism and the empowerment of women both on and off the track. A member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, NSRG advocates for the growth of roller derby in Minnesota and throughout the world.
Liz Lorge (aka Jackillope) just finished skating her second season with NSRG. “Like many women who nervously walk into our empty warehouse and onto our league, I hit a particularly low time in my life and found myself coming out of it in a pair of roller skates. And I’ve never looked back,” she says.
Lorge played boy’s lacrosse in high school. “I loved showing doubting pubescent bros what a strong woman can do,” she says.
She tried no-contact rugby and women’s lacross in college, but they didn’t live up to what she was looking for. “With derby, you get a room full of women who know they are smart, independent, and strong; getting stronger by the minute,” she says. “And no one is afraid to show their muscle or take a hit. We face aggression and embrace physicality while bearing our competitive teeth. It’s empowering. It’s uplifting. And I know I haven’t just gained a solid GLBT community along the way, but I have an incredible amount of allies. I’ve never felt so sure-footed or valid in my life. And the fact that I can find that through skating in the Metro…well, what better experience could a gal ask for?”
For Laura Mahler (aka Baller), derby is the main sport she participates in here in the Twin Cities and trains at GLBT-friendly fitness centers like Ax Fitness in Northeast Minneapolis and Six Degrees in Uptown. Mahler says the great part about derby is that it supports so many different types, shapes, sizes and abilities of women.
“I went through a phase where I thought I needed to lose weight to be good and I quickly learned I needed to gain as much muscle as possible and eat a damn sandwich,” Mahler says. “Losing weight in order to be good at something is for losers. You need to be smart to play this game. You need to work together with your teammates, you need to figure out what your strength is and bring that to the table every time. ”
In addition to that added self-confidence, derby has helped Mahler in some other ways. “I never had any sisters; I grew up with three brothers,” she says. “Derby has become the sisterhood I never had. I think it is sometimes difficult to find strong, smart, aggressive women role models working together in the media. Sports are a safe place to let lose, compete for something whole-heartedly and just leave it all out on the track. By participating in a sport, I get to do these things on a weekly basis, and be a role model myself.”