By Jason Groth
The ice is out at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena and it will continue the transformation from the home of the Greenway Raider Hockey team to the home of the Iron Range Maidens Roller Derby team. The Maidens begin their 2014 campaign on Saturday evening when they host the Med City Mafia out of Rochester at 6:30 p.m.
This bout is the first of four home bouts at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena for the Maidens and their B-Team the Attackonites. However, this bout will have a different flare to it. The Maidens and the Attackonites will merge for one night as they take on Med City.
“Our fans are in for a treat with this bout. Normally, bouts are made up of two 30-minute halves,” Peanut Slugger-N-Jam said. “This bout will feature two 40-minute halves. The Grand Rapids Area Roller Derby Association teams will pulling out their new strategy plays and we will be bouting under the newest Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules. Fans will no longer be watching long power jams or see skaters spending a lengthy amount of time in the penalty box.”
The 2014 team will have several new faces as well as many familiar faces returning for the upcoming season.
“The team is made up of a majority of our seasoned veterans as well as adding a few brand new skaters at the end of last season,” Slugger-N-Jam said. “We are actively training some other new recruits on Monday Night as the proceed through the 12-week Roller Derby 101 class. Fans will see some new faces for GRARDA taking the track this season as well as veteran skaters finessing their skills and strategy. Our GRARDA skaters are participating in off-skate practices, running in 5K’s, full marathons and hitting the local gyms for weight training.”
The Maidens have progressed throughout their four years of action and they continue to grow as they face a strong nine bout schedule that has them traveling throughout the state of Minnesota as well as into Missouri. The Maidens will be taking part in a tournament in Lebanon, Missouri coming up in June.
“The Iron Range Maidens have had to step up their game of roller derby. We’ve grown with the sport of derby and adjusting our game knowledge as the WFTDA rules have changed throughout our four years of play,” Slugger-N-Jam said. “We’ve had to become stronger, smarter, push our endurance and fine tune positions on the track. Our team has had to go through some growing pains, but, we have embraced each other and our passion for this sport which is resulting in a team that is a force to be reckoned with.”
The Med City Mafia will present an interesting challenge for the Maidens. The Mafia have competed already this season and are expected to have a deeper bench number wise for this event on Saturday.
“Med City has experienced, hard-hitting, solid women. They will have the upper hand over us for the bout,” Slugger-N-Jam said. “Med City has already been competing this year, whereas this is the first bout for GRARDA for the 2014 season.”
One of the unique things about the bouts is that they raise money for a local non-profit organization and this bout the proceeds will go to Children Mental Health Services/REACH out of Grand Rapids. That organization serves children and families in Itasca County.
The doors for the bout on Saturday open at 6 p.m. with all the action beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine.