Roller girls gear up

Members of the Minnesota Southbound Rollers practice in Packer Arena Monday evening, their first practice of the year. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Members of the Minnesota Southbound Rollers practice in Packer Arena Monday evening, their first practice of the year. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Minnesota Southbound Rollers have come a long way and they’re hoping to take it even further.

Skaters ready themselves at the starting line during a practice of the Minnesota Southbound Rollers Monday at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Skaters ready themselves at the starting line during a practice of the Minnesota Southbound Rollers Monday at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The women’s roller derby team, which started holding workouts in Brownsdale last summer, has moved its workouts to Austin, and it’s getting closer to competing in bouts with other teams. The Rollers are starting to work on more advanced training, which required them to move into Packer Arena, where the squad can practice on a regulation-size track.

Christine Stiehm, an original member of the Southbound Rollers, said the team has come along way since it first put on skates. The team learned it had to get skater insurance and it also learned that a lot more padding was needed than they originally thought when they first started holding practices.

“In the beginning we never wore gear, we didn’t have helmets and we didn’t have any structure to our practices,” Stiehm said. “We didn’t know what we were doing. Now we have much more structure and we know to wear gear because it’s a full contact sport. “

The Rollers are now practicing in Packer Arena Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. They are looking to qualify for competition, which means the team must master some more difficult skills.

Members of the Minnesota Soutbound Rollers watch as teammates take part in the 27 and 5 drill. Participants have to be able to do 27 laps in five minutes before they are allowed to schedule. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Members of the Minnesota Soutbound Rollers watch as teammates take part in the 27 and 5 drill. Participants have to be able to do 27 laps in five minutes before they are allowed to schedule. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The list of tasks includes improving on jumping, blocking and hitting, and skaters must be able to skate around the track 27 times in five minutes.

“It’s a huge test. We’re focusing on getting those skills down,” Stiehm said. “We’re expecting to be ready in the fall to start bouting.”

The Rollers are aiming to compete in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which includes teams in Rochester, Mankato and La Crosse, Wis..

The team currently has 15 skaters and all members are required to show up for at least 66 percent of the practices. Stiehm said the squad is still looking for skaters and sponsors. The Rollers, who now have a board of directors, would like to have about five more skaters to fill their roster, and they would also like to have enough skaters to field another team in town.

Although the team is moving on to Packer Arena, Stiehm was quick to credit the Rohler Rink in Brownsdale for helping the team get started.

“None of us had skates when we first started,” she said. “Most of us hadn’t been on quads in years, because everybody rollerblades. Brownsdale had skates and that got us on quads. “

 

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