Looking for a unique and exciting outing this weekend?
North Star Roller Derby comes crashing into Canterbury Park on Saturday, Dec. 1. The 1970s and ’80s television phenomenon has been reborn and will roll into the Canterbury Park Expo Center with the speed, collisions and athleticism you remember.
Canterbury Park asked Kaitlyn Egan — aka Maulnavia!, Maully for short — about the sport, her involvement as a blocker with the Banger Sisters, and what people can expect at the bouts on Saturday, Dec. 1.
How does roller derby work?
We play on an oval-shaped flat track (as opposed to the banked track people may recognize from the ’70s and ’80s).
Basically, roller derby is played in two halves and the game is called a bout. Each half is split into two-minute segments, called jams. There is a maximum of 10 players (5 from each team) on the track at any given time.
One player from each team wears a star on their helmet. These folks are called jammers and they score the points. Each jammer can score points simultaneously. They score one point when they pass a member of the opposing team.
The first jammer out of the pack, which is the name for the group of eight blockers, is your lead jammer. They can stop the jam early. The other eight players are called blockers, and it is their job to both prevent the opposing jammer from passing them while also helping their own jammer pass members of the other team. The blockers with the stripes on their head are called pivots, and they can relieve their jammer if they get tired.
There are a lot more rules and nuances, but those are the basics. Derby is a full-contact sport played on wheels. It takes a special group of folks to electively do that as a hobby, I think.
Check out our blog for a visual and more complete explanation.
How did you get into the sport?
I saw roller derby for the first time a few years ago and I was hooked.
Watching folks who looked like me (tattoos, crazy-colored hair, etc.) lay others out was inspiring. (I do not have an athletic background.) It was just weird and random enough to seem perfect.
I hadn’t been on roller skates since grade school fieldtrips, but I signed up to learn how to skate with North Star Roller Derby. As soon as I started skating, I was hooked. It is such an empowering activity, and I’ve made some amazing, amazing friends that I can’t imagine living without.
What’s with roller derby being cool again?
I’m not really sure.
So WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) was founded in 2004. WFTDA is the governing body of flat track derby. Kind of like what the NFL is to football (my sports analogies are iffy at best). Anyway, that rejuvenated the sport, and it’s been growing since.
Flat tracks are easier to create and find space for compared to the bank track. That makes it easier for folks to start up their own league. You just need a massive hard-floored space and some tape or paint.
But I really think a driving factor is that it is a sport created and driven by women, trans, and femme-identifying folks, as opposed to the traditionally male-dominated sports. People want something different. A space that is for and by them. Even though it is a competitive sport, derby is known for the unique, inclusive community. I think that’s something so many of us were looking for and needed in our lives.
What can people expect on Saturday?
Saturday is the kickoff to our 13th season. We’re calling it “unLucky Season 13” and the first theme is “Black Cat-astrophe.” Sometimes folks dress in costume according to theme, so that’s always super fun! I’m personally hoping to see a lot of cats.
It will be a mini-tournament, so you’ll get to see each of our four teams play (Banger Sisters; Kilmore Girls; Delta Delta Di; Violent Femmes). We have announcers who will be commentating throughout each game, so they’ll help you understand what’s going on while it’s happening. Like I said, full-contact, so grown adults electively hitting each other at-speed on roller skates.
This is a family-friendly event. Our awesome mascot Gnarly the Narwhal will be there and you can visit with the skaters when they’re not on the track. We usually have some halftime entertainment and there’s always snacks and beer.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are North Star Roller Derby, not Girls. We changed our name recently to be more inclusive. Generally, we refer to ourselves as “skaters,” “players,” or “athletes.”
The skaters always get a lot of attention, but we also have an amazing crew of skate refs and off-skates officials (collectively known as Zebras) who we rely on to be able to do our sport. They work just as hard to be good at what they do and we’re super thankful to have such a large group of amazing folks.
The people who play derby are your everyday folks. We’re accountants, writers, teachers, scientists, graphic designers, medical professionals, vets, engineers… I like to think of it kind of like a superhero alter-ego situation. Though we’re usually not very secretive. We’ll talk derby to anyone!
This is the first time we’re playing south of the river, and we’re so excited! This will be a new, fun experience for us and we hope our fans enjoy it, too. We’ll have a public after party at O’Briens Public House, so we hope to see you there!
We also just got our nonprofit status this fall, so we are now a nonprofit. You can stay up-to-date on our event info and more by following us on:
We also have our website and blog, The Damage Report.