Join Roller Derby in 2022!

Join Roller Derby Announcement!

We’re recruiting new skaters, referees, and non-skating officials. No experience necessary at all – we’ll teach you everything you need to know!

Keweenaw Roller Derby is a group of individuals determined to establish a thriving, committed roller derby community throughout the area that fosters self-esteem, community spirit, sportsmanship, and leadership skills in its members.

Attend one or both recruitment events:

Virtual Q&A
April 9, 4-5p
Drop in to get all your questions answered!
Please register in order to receive the virtual Q&A link.

Skating Meet & Greet
April 10, 1-3p
We’ll be at Finlandia’s Hirvonen Hall Gym (Downtown Hancock – the gym is on the first floor, just to the left of the main entrance). Drop in to try on gear, skate around, and get more questions answered! Registration not required but appreciated so we can have enough gear on hand!

Can’t attend any events or have questions? Reach out to us at or via our Facebook page!

FAQs about Joining Keweenaw Roller Derby

What is the New Skater Program ?

This is the multi-week training session we offer at least once a season. If you attend you will learn basic skating and derby skills such as, stopping, blocking, transitions, skating in a group, and more. It is intended for team-building, to get you to a point at which you can safely join the rest of the team for full-practices and games. 

What if I want to officiate?

Yes please! Skating Officials can use quad or inline skates and are welcome to go through the New Skater Program in order to develop their skating skills and understanding of the game. 

When is the next New Skater Program?

Sundays starting April 24, 2022

Do I need to know how to skate?

Not even a little bit! We accept all skill levels into our New Skater Program and will teach you all the skating skills you need to know.

Any other requirements?

You need to be 18 or older and you should be in OK health. You don’t have to be crazy athletic, but derby is a rough, full-contact sport. You will be hit, fall down, and get bruises. Use your common sense! You are also required to have secondary insurance through the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association to skate with us ($75/year).

Do I need my own gear?

Yes. We’ll host a Meet & Greet where you can try on gear, and we may be able to provide loaner equipment for a short time. However, you will need to purchase your own equipment.

What kind of gear?

Every skater is required to wear a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, a mouth guard and quad roller skates. We can provide gear recommendations and may even have some used gear available for sale.

What happens after the New Skater Program?

At the end of the program, skaters who can skate safely in a group will join full-league practices while refs and non-skating officials will begin working with our Officials crew. Skaters who are not quite able to join practices yet will have ample opportunity to participate in practices without full-contact drills!

Because we are skater owned and operated, once you join the team and participate in full-league practices, you will be expected to make practice attendance requirements, pay dues (currently $45/month) which serves the league’s operating costs, and to work fundraisers and events whenever possible.

Join Us!

The Keweenaw Roller Girls are entering recruitment season! We hope that if you have an interest in roller derby (skater or ref) you’ll come check out the activities we’re hosting over the next few weeks! We encourage folks with no experience and tons of experience to join us.

Please direct questions to OR our Facebook page

2018 Boot Camps, Aug 26 & Sept 9

We’re hosting two single day boot camps where you can give roller derby a try! We’ll have gear – skates, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and helmets – available for you to try on. Once everyone is geared up, a few veteran skaters will walk you through stops, starts, and some very basic skate skills. At the end, we’ll do a little off-skates derby and talk about what joining derby looks like. Both boot camps will be run the same, so feel free to attend just one or both!

Sunday, August 26 or Sunday, September 9
12p-3p (12-1 test gear, 1-3 skate!)
Dee Stadium, Houghton
Please wear work-out clothes and sneakers
See our facebook events for up-to-the minute info on boot camps

New Skater Program

Each year we host a 10 week new skater program to introduce both basic skating skills and the game of roller derby to folks who want to join the team or become a referee. You will need your own gear (See our gear recommendation list for an idea of what that entails. However, please don’t purchase anything until you’ve spoken to us – we don’t want you to get stuck with something that you can’t use!)

Check out our “Join the League Page” for a more in-depth overview!

The 2018 program will run from September 23-December 2. Times and location TBD (location will vary due to imminent hockey season!)


Roller Derby and the Fine Art of Sisu

Sisu: A Finnish concept and cultural construct that describes strength of will, determination, tenacity, grit, bravery and acting rationally in the face of adversity.  It’s not temporary bravery, but a sustained courage that Finns hold dear as an important component of national heritage.

There are many terms in other languages that don’t translate neatly into English: the German Fremdschämen comes to mind- a vicarious embarrassment one feels when witnessing someone making a fool of themselves in front of a crowd.  As a matter of fact, roller derby and Fremdschämen could be a whole separate and wildly entertaining article, but I digress.

The Finnish Sisu, defined above is one of these concepts.

Here, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, one will find some of the largest populations of people of Finnish ancestry outside of Finland proper.  Given the isolation during the winter months and the extreme weather, Sisu is definitely a ubiquitous and very much applicable term. As a newcomer to the area, I had never heard of anything like it; but now I find the concept intriguing and culturally fascinating.

Moving here in 2015, not only did I learn about Sisu, but I also joined the local roller derby league, the Keweenaw Roller Girls.  Starting as a brand new, older, out of shape skater, it became apparent after my first graceless time on skates that I had a lot to learn!  A healthy dose of determination, drive, and stubbornness in addition to receiving wonderful support from my league are what kept me going.  I would soon learn that tenacity combined with stubbornness is what lies at the heart of Sisu.  And boy, does it apply to participating in all aspects of roller derby.  Perhaps it’s something we all possess, but the Finns have just been clever enough to put a name to it.

For me, Sisu kept me going in the following situations:

Fresh Meat:

My debut on quad skates mentioned above, was not pretty, and I know I’m not alone.  I barely made it away from the safety of the hockey rink boards.  I think I had fun… but I frankly was too preoccupied with not dying to remember.  The following days required Sisu: muscles I didn’t even know I had were killing me! My husband kindly solidified my resolve when he said something to the effect of “maybe this sport isn’t for you”.  I had a violent attack of Sisu and vowed to not give up in spite of some muscle soreness and husband comment-making.


One aspect of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) minimum required skills test needed to be passed by all skaters in order to safely bout.  Twenty-seven laps on a regulation track in five minutes: my white whale.  It took me close to two years of skating before I finally passed this test. But for the grace of Sisu, I would have definitely packed it in and allowed it to defeat me.  No doubt about it, 27/5 is a beast, but one that (ugh I sound like my dad here) builds character and fosters Sisu in even the most capable players.

Not Being Historically a Very Skilled Athlete:

Read: generally a hot mess athletically.  The heading says it all, and I know I’m not alone in the derby community in having been picked last for more than one team growing up.  The beauty of roller derby is that there’s a role for everyone, providing they have Sisu and are willing to work hard to discover what that role may be.  I personally highly value my league’s commitment to fostering training and athleticism in skaters of all abilities.

I’m sure there are many more examples that I’m forgetting.  That’s the thing about Sisu: it isn’t necessarily something one consciously commits to exerting, it’s something that comes from deep within when we feel like giving up.  Thankfully I haven’t been very injury prone, but many fine skaters I know have been.  It’s Sisu that keeps them committing to treatment, rehab, prehab, returning, and overcoming fear of re-injury.

At the end of the day, it’s definitely easier to walk away from a challenge, but there’s no reward in that.  Exerting Sisu and playing roller derby go hand in hand- keep that in mind next time you have a particularly terrible practice, or you pull a muscle.  In my eyes, roller derby is for everyone, especially those lucky folks like us who now know the power of Sisu.

TJF 5/18/18

June 30th game cancelled

After much discussion, the Keweenaw Roller Girls have decided to cancel our scheduled roller derby bout on June 30. Many of our skaters and regular volunteers are currently pouring their energy into the clean-up and relief process, and we in no way want to distract from that. Our regular venue is currently a hub for supplies and volunteers; while there are other locations across the area where we could potentially move, to do so in such a short time would cause undue stress to league members and community partners whose attention is elsewhere.
Our featured organization for this bout was going to be Dial Help, Inc.; we will be donating money to them and encourage you to do the same if you are able. The health services they provide in times of sorrow, stress, and rebuilding are invaluable.
In lieu of the bout on June 30, we are planning to work with local organizations to facilitate a mass KRG volunteer day. Please stay tuned for details!
If you have any questions or concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to send us a message at or via Facebook.
#CopperCountryStrong #keweenawrollergirls

Nail Biters: an away game recap


Numbers Recap:

Keweenaw Roller Girls (217) vs. Ypsilanti Vigilantes (225)

Keweenaw Roller Girls (154) vs. East Lansing Roller Derby (146)


While this upcoming Saturday, May 5, is our first home game this summer, our season actually kicked off with a set of away games in April. Over the course of one Saturday evening, East Lansing Roller Derby hosted a round robin tournament with KRG and Ann Arbor’s Ypsilanti Vigilantes. It was a tough night with three games back to back: ELRD played the Vigis, the Vigis turned around and played KRG, and we ended with KRG vs. ELRD. The Vigis took home the win in both their games, but KRG put up a helluva fight. Our team captain, Thimbleberry Slam, said:

I went into the weekend knowing the games would be well matched, but wasn’t sure how we’d fair against Ypsilanti Vigilantes since they played strong in Division 1 at the Mitten Kitten last year. We were in Division 2. Looking up at the scoreboard throughout our game I was awestruck that we had held the lead through the length of the game. KRG was on fire and communicating so well. We were where we needed to be when we needed to be there.

In the final game against ELRD, KRG pulled out a win. Again of just 8 points! It was a wild sort of parallel. In both games our blocking walls were strong and our jammers hit the pack with an immense amount of fight.

We had two of our newest league members helping out on the bench. They made sure we had all our helmet panties on straight, kept an eye on who was in the box, and got an up-close-and-personal view of the game that neither had experienced before. Princess Fury reported back:

Going into this weekend I had no idea what to expect, but when players needed breaks and we had people in the penalty box everyone was flexible when it came to lines and communicated extremely well on the bench before getting out onto the track. I think its why we did so well during both bouts.

And Princess Bubblebutt :

Our communication is our biggest strength. It really lets us capitalize on the individual strengths of our players. We demonstrated in these first two games that we have some things to work on, but with our strong foundation, it’s only up from here.

(Editorial note: Hell yeah, we picked up two princesses this year!)

These games taught us a lot. We are settling into set lines for the season, learning (or re-learning!) each others’ blocking quirks, cleaning up our game (seven penalties = ejection, yikes!) and developing a long list of offensive strategies we need to master to make our jammers’ lives happier. We are so grateful to both ELRD and the Vigis for being wonderful opponents and being part of two of the closest, greatest nailbiters we’ve ever experienced.

Can’t wait to see how the rest of the season plays out, and hope to see you join us on Saturday, May 5 as we go up against Alpena’s Shipwreck Alley!