How I became a Mafia fan
"Look out, Chief Bogie - round up your deputies!"
Rumor has it the Mafia has become firmly entrenched in Moose Lake. There is no Bonanno or Colombo family, no Gambino or Gotti or Genovese. Not even a fictional Don Corleone from the "Godfather" movies. This outfit goes by the name of "Moose Lake Mafia."
A few Saturdays ago I saw they were meeting at Riverside Arena in downtown Moose Lake. That's pretty bold of them I thought. Doesn't the Mafia usually meet at some undisclosed upstate resort? Don't they usually meet behind closed doors in some out-of-the-way Italian restaurant? If they were going to be that public about their organization, I felt it only right that I, as a snoopy feature-writing gossip, should probably get the scoop on this gang.
The first big surprise was the fact the Moose Lake Mafia is made up entirely of women. The only violence they generated was a lot of pushing and shoving, occasionally knocking someone on their butt. Earlier in the day, I ran into Elaine Hennager, a veteran Mafia member who goes by her game name, Juice E Fruit. All of her fellow team members have names such as Dahlinquent, Lil L, Fresh Meat and Psycho Babble.
Attending a game is worth it just for the program. In it you can read not only all the colorful names of the skaters, but of the referees as well. Enforcing the rules of the match are officials named Dread Kennedy, A Bita Grit, Mr. Incredulous and Dr. Khaotica.
Seeing how I had nothing else to do that Saturday, and because Juice E Fruit had given me a personal invitation to come down and see what the roller derby sport was all about, I called up my friend and coaxed him out of his comfy chair to take a trip to the rink.
It was a good 40 years since I had attended my other one and only roller derby match in Sioux City, Iowa. I remembered very little from the event and virtually none of the rules. For my friend, the game was entirely foreign as he was a rookie spectator.
The Moose Lake announcer did a very credible job of explaining the rules and regulations - both before and during the event. By the second half, my friend and I both knew most of what was going on, including how each team scored points for their side. The Sioux City event featured a professional team that led a rough and tumble game on a banked oval track. The action was fast and furious. The Moose Lake version was called flat track roller derby. The pace was only slightly slower and a little less brutal. Only rarely did one hear gasps from the crowd when a skater got knocked for a loop and landed on the hard arena cement floor.
This is a crowd pleasing sport and we soon became Moose Lake Mafia fans. My friend, a former mentor for girls' basketball and softball, stated he liked competitive sports and this one certainly qualified. My advice: If you find yourself sitting around on a Saturday night looking for something different to do, this roller derby stuff is guaranteed to entertain you.
On August 9, the Mafia takes on a team called "DaRanged" up at Ely. The following month, on September 13, they host an Iron Range team called "Attackonites" down at Riverside Arena in Moose Lake. The Moose Lake Muni has a booth that serves both beer and cocktails, while the booster clubs sell T-shirts, sweatshirts and all sorts of sports merchandise featuring not only Mafia gear, but items from the opposing team.
Park yourself in "suicide seating" for a close-up look at the action. You could find a skater in your lap, however, you also will find a trained EMT at every game. Come see what it's all about. You will be glad you did.