Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Moose Lake Mafia ready to roll

First home bout of season set for May 10


The first Moose Lake Mafia roller derby home bout is set for May 10 at Riverside Arena.

With one bout in Iowa under their belts this year, the Moose Lake Mafia Roller Girls are gearing up to go against the Roller Underground on Saturday, May 10, at Riverside Arena at 7 p.m. The doors open at 6 p.m.

Moose Lake Mafia was organized in 2011, and started bouts on April 6 two years ago. This is the beginning of the team's third season.

"It's been going really, really well," said Elaine Hennager, a veteran of the team. "Our skills have gotten better after three years, and we have created more awareness of who we are in the community. People don't ask what it is anymore. Roller derby is still the fastest growing sport in the nation."

This year the team has the advantage of having a coach, Brett Fanning, and a referee, Rich Barber. Jordan Shepard is training to be a referee.

Hennegar said the team still needs more skaters, referees and other help.

Fanning is enjoying coaching the roller girls.

"It's been quite an adventure, that's for sure," he said. "We've got a lot of talented ladies out there. As with any sport, they want to win on the home front but it's more about the fun and making the sport more popular around the area."

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, "Roller Derby" was a popular TV show. The teams skated on wooden ramps and the skaters threw people off over the railings.

Modern roller derby teams use flat tracks in arenas, except in California, where ramps are still used.

"We started with four skaters," said Hennager. "Now we have 16-18. We use our elbows, hips and shoulders, and do can openers, where we hit someone in the upper chest. We hit anyplace that's legal."

It took time for the team to build a local fan base due to unfamiliarity of the sport.

"The first couple of bouts, people were kind of quiet because they didn't know what was going on," said Hennager. "Now we have gotten 600 likes on the Moose Lake Mafia Facebook page."

The team is a nonprofit organization and donates a portion of its proceeds to area charities, such as the Moose Lake Area Food Shelf. A portion of the proceeds from the May 10 bout will be donated to the local Minnesota Military Families Fund.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to One Heartland Center after the bout in July, and to the Audubon Center in September.

"It's hard work but we like it," said Hennegar. "It's fun, fun, fun!"

"I have a feeling that this is going to be their best season yet," added Coach Fanning.


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