A sport that began almost a century ago is staying modern and current right here in Fargo. The Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls (FMDG) bring the classic sport to life, made up of and run by a close-knit and hardworking community.
Roller Derby is a tough sport, there’s no denying that. But with that tenacious play on the track comes the same in character, and that’s exactly what the organization is going for. According to their website, the FMDG, “challenges social stereotypes and strives to provide positive role models for young and old alike. Through the league’s bouts, events and outreach, we aspire to new levels of athleticism, competition and creativity.”
A roller derby game is called a “bout,” comprising two-minute “jams.” According to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) website, “the terminology ‘bout’ comes from boxing, because a derby match is a fight to the end.”
Through training, the members of the FMDG practice and perform like any other athletic organization or club, but they also take care of every bit of the operation for the nonprofit as well. Everything from running the bout to graphic design to filing taxes and anything else is volunteer work. The coaching staff, referees and non-skating officials are all volunteers.
FMDG welcomes individuals from all walks of life and identities: transgender, cisgender and nonbinary, and every body type, experience and level of athleticism. New skaters, whether they have a lifetime of experience in athletics or none at all, will work with the coaches and peers to understand and grow skills in roller derby.
“We work together to unlock our inner athletes by pushing and supporting each other both physically and mentally. We give to the league in the hopes that we can create a great life-changing experience that will affect our members and the larger community for the better.”
– Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls website
Here’s How It Works:
A jam starts with a combination of blocker (defensive) skaters and jammer (offensive) skaters on the track. Starting behind the “pack” of blockers, two jammers from each team (sporting a star on their helmet) must make it past the pack and make a legal lap around the track to begin scoring points.
If they make it through the pack of blockers and around the track, jammers then start gaining points for each blocker who they pass. The first jammer to make it past the pack is considered the lead jammer, and can stop the jam at any point before the two minutes are up.
What makes the sport’s players so impressive (besides the fact that they are on rollerblades for all of this), is that roller derby is a very contact-heavy sport. Blockers are blocking the jammers out and jammers are jamming through the blockers. Of course, there are rules, skaters cannot hit opponents with their hands, head or feet, or hit them in the head, back or feet.
As intense as the sport is, as is the love for it that the players have.
The FMDG “Fresh Meat” training sessions last for three to five months, and are held twice a year. The program will teach new players the basic skills to bring them to a beginner level—but many of the current FMDG league members had no experience prior to joining! For overall safety, skaters will have to pass the WFTDA minimum skills and rules test at the end of training before being allowed to play.
The Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls will begin this year’s Fresh Meat training at the end of February and host another training session in the fall. Follow their Facebook, @fmderbygirls and Instagram, @fm_derbygirls to learn more and to reach out if you’re interested!
You can also reach out to [email protected]il.com for more information.