Spilling the Gravi-tea on Solar System Smackdown 7

Last Saturday, the day dawned like many other summer days in Michigan’s beautiful Copper Country. Except this wasn’t an ordinary day. Last Saturday was Keweenaw Roller Derby’s seventh annual Solar System Smackdown mixer: the Aurora Assassins and the Ultraviolet Valkyries were preparing to do battle at Houghton’s Dee Stadium.

Open skate was amicable enough, however the atmosphere turned serious once warm-ups got under way. Assassin’s captain Payne Thretzky (alter-ego of KRD blocker I Love Skatin’) lead her blue shirts through a series of stretches and scenarios as the Valkyries waited on the sideline for their turn. Soon, they took the track, lead by captain Lt. Baldavich (pseudonym of KRD jammer AfroDisiac) as she put the Valkyries through their paces.

Head referee Otto Korrect (kindly visiting from Chippewa Valley Roller Derby) had his crew assembled and at the ready, while head NSO Gore Mae Cupcake and her peers stood at the ready. The bout was soon underway, with the Assassins pulling into an early lead, thanks to skillful jamming on behalf of Glory Sparks (Dead River Derby), Starbuck (KRD), Radiosmacktive (Madison Roller Derby), Pippi StrongWhomping (KRD), and T. Slam (Minnesota Roller Derby, formerly of KRD). In spite of this early lead, the Valkyries’ jammer corps responded strongly, kicking asses and taking names. Lead by Lt. Baldavitch (KRD), the Valkyries’ jamming duties were shared by McMauler (aka. Kim Kong of KRD), Leaf Cutter (aka. Princess Fury of KRD), and Switch Please (Minnesota Roller Derby). The entire bout saw the lead go back and forth, as both teams jockeyed for intergalactic roller derby supremacy- a true nail-biter.

Newer skaters Wall-EE (Kingsford Krush) and Fifi (KRD) laced up their skates for the Valkyries in what was their second and first bouts respectively. They truly held their own on the track, with both skaters performing skilled blocking and assisting in the formation of solid walls. Not to be outdone, the Assassins also had a strong defensive showing, with KRD’s Princess Bubblebutt, Rowena RaginClaw, Jeffrey Dahminator, and Kansassin (Madison Roller Derby) joining forces, creating smooth, strong blocking formations. Visiting Canadian skaters Vodka ChaseHer and Chasing Wolf from Thunder Bay Roller Derby both skated like champs- Vodka in purple, and Wolf in blue- blocking jammers, and landing some punishing hits each. Speaking of hits: KRD’s Amelia HitsHart , Payne Thretzky, Famke Jams’em, and Mae Rollin Gung Ho (Chippewa Valley Roller Derby) were not shy about getting physical- each of them played effective and stealthy offensive blocking; surprising skaters and landing some punishing body checks.

Overall, it was a close and exciting bout. The final result saw the Assassins emerge victorious 172 over the Valkyries’ 147. Both teams fought hard and enacted the true spirit of roller derby: fair play, support for fellow skaters, and athleticism.

Bout MVP trophies were true works of art, kindly created by injured KRD skater Luna Stormborn and her partner Joey Voldarski. They were awarded to Valkyries’ jammer Leaf Cutter, and blocker Mae Rollin Gung Ho. The Assassins MVPs were earned by Pippi StrongWhomping (jammer) and Kansassin (blocker). MVP zebra award- chosen by the NSOs- went to Boba Thrett (KRD) and MVP NSO – chosen by the referee crew- was awarded to Angela (KRD).

Many volunteers came together to make this event a success; too many to name here. A galaxy-sized thank you is extended to you all.

In closing, Solar System Smackdown 7 is now part of roller derby history. The friendships and alliances formed by events like this are not to be understated: they are what roller derby is at its core. Skaters coming together, playing their hearts out in a sport that we all love so much. Supporting each other. Having each other’s backs. Dancing our asses off at the after party. The world needs so so much more of this.

Be good to each other and keep turning left. Over and out.


International Derby Excitement

The weekend of June 21: not only was it some of the longest days of the year, but it was also a momentous time for Keweenaw Roller Derby. For the first time, Keweenaw Roller Derby crossed the Canadian border to take on Thunder Bay Babes of Thunder. We all headed up on Friday, and the eight-hour trip flew by as it was non-stop conversation and laughter. The morning of the bout, most of the team ventured to picturesque Kakabeka waterfalls and walked around the provincial park- It was a perfect way to move about and see some of the wonderful natural beauty that Canada had to offer. We all came back together for an in-room taco party (you really can’t go wrong with a taco party), collected our thoughts, and rested for the bout.

Fittingly for June, the bout was Pride themed, and so we donned our rainbows and in typical KiKo fashion I did some wild rainbow bout makeup. When it was time to bout KRD took to the track with just eight skaters, some blockers going three or more jams in a row! Everyone skated with heart, pushed themselves, and nailed it. I am so proud of my team! Our bench coaches, Afro, Fifi, and Luna, were our rocks: they helped us hold it together in addition to keeping everything moving smoothly and communicating with us as to what needed to be done. This was one of the most exhausting games that I have ever skated (my teammates can probably agree) but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you, Thunder Bay, for the wonderful experience!

-Kim Kong

Bubble’s Perspective or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Roller Derby

Keweenaw Roller Derby invited Traverse City Roller Derby’s Toxic Cherries knowing it was unlikely we would rock the scoreboard. And this mentality is how I know derby is uniquely my scene.

Saturday was my first bout on skates, but I’ve been working up to this moment since September 2017 when I first strapped on skates and duck-walked onto the track at an intro to derby bootcamp in the Calumet Colosseum. I’ve never been athletic, never been on a team, but this sport is an unrelenting inspiration and the people involved even moreso. We skate, we hit, we train, we fall, we laugh, and we get back up. We smile at our competitors and they smile back. KRD plays to win, but we never value the win more than the experience.

Up until Saturday, I’d been involved in bouts on the sidelines: filling volunteer holes, directing, coaching, and wrangling skaters on the bench. Despite my slow mastery of the skills, there has always been a place for me in the league. I have watched my team learn and grow through tough matchups with stellar opponents. This weekend, I got to join them.

It was awesome.

We took some hits, we struggled against their offense, and we often failed to counter their defense. Traverse City was the stronger team, but you don’t gain muscle by lifting lighter weights. We pushed our bodies, found skills to work on, and witnessed new strategies to try. Best of all, we had a great time testing ourselves against a team of excellent skaters, coaches, and staff. This sport encompasses a world-wide community of teams that respect and lift up one another and this weekend was a prime example.


We had a couple of intro to derby bootcamps this week and we’ll be starting KRD new skater training at the end of this month. If you missed the opportunity to try us out and you’re ready to be a part of something empowering and fun, please reach out to info@keweenawrollerderby.com and we can work with you to get you enrolled in the program. If you’re looking for a way to get involved but don’t want to play, you can train to be a skating official, non-skating official, or help us out by volunteering at a bout!

Princess BubbleButt

Join Keweenaw Roller Derby!

Are you interested in joining roller derby? KRD is hosting a bootcamp where you can get your feet wet and try out some gear. Attend a bootcamp on June 3 or June 6, from 6:30p-9:00p. We’ll provide the gear and some basic instruction on stops, starts, and the game of roller derby (don’t worry, no on-skates hitting that first day!) For more info, check out our Facebook events!

Our full new skater program will run June 27-August 3  on Monday and Thursday nights, 6:30-8:30pm. More info to come!

Unicorn Invasion!

Team Unicorn LogoLast Saturday night, historic Dee Stadium in Houghton and Keweenaw Roller Derby played host to a magical herd of unicorns. Team Unicorn from Madison Roller Derby, to be exact.

The action got underway at 6:00, and the Unicorns jumped into an early lead that they held on to for almost the entire bout. It was a physical and hard-hitting game; one of the most physical that we’ve experienced. Despite this, penalties were relatively low for the Keweenaw Rollers, something that is a reflection of our rigorous training regime and commitment to fair play.

The bout ended with the final score of 99 for Keweenaw, 190 for Team Unicorn. In spite of taking a loss, KRD skated well, hard, and played clean.

One of the things that attracts many to roller derby is that there’s room for all body types and athletic abilities on the track. Team Unicorn demonstrates this in practice as they had a roster on Saturday made up of skaters of a variety body types, and our jammers got some valuable experience tangling with bigger, solid blockers than those currently on KRD’s roster.

Those who were there can confirm that the energy was electric last Saturday. Hopefully that vibe is a portent of things to come for the 2019 season and will only continue as KRD skates both at the Dee and on the road.


MVP Jammer: Afro Disiac

MVP Blocker: I Love Skatin’

Kick-Ass Communicator Award: Rowena Ragin’Claw

Fierce Feet Award: Smushella DeVil