After arriving an hour early to practice, the Lansing Derby Vixens are eager to get on the rink and begin skating.
As the women laced up their skates and put on their safety equipment, they leave their everyday life and enter the Vixen world with their own unique derby name.
Earning the right to use your derby name is part of the award for completing the Derby 101, a twelve-week training program and right to passage on the rink.
The girls spend these weeks training and thinking of their derby name. Mullicious Intent, Chelsea Chelsea Bang bang, Ida Stroya, and Annie Oxidant, are just a few.
This is where beginner derby girls learn advanced skating, proper blocking and safe falling skills. These skills can make or break a skater.
“We had one skater in derby 101 who fell backwards and shattered both of her elbows,” said Lansing Derby Vixens Head Coach Ryan Knott. “We’re trying to pioneer a bit for safety.”
Getting through this rigorous program in one piece is an accomplishment by itself.
“Having wheels on your feet is not a natural state,” He said.” “Until you train your mind that forget that you have wheels on your feet, you’re very susceptible to more injuries.”
“We actually have a whole group of skaters that have their PhD ‘s or masters degrees, that we call the smackademics…” said Knott. “Annie Oxidant is in that group.” The team is full of women ranging from age eighteen to fifty, all doing something different with their life.
The team includes MSU professors, students, retail workers and stay-at-home moms, “Everybody gets along and everybody fits in,” Knott said. “It’s a place where everybody can be something they didn’t know they could be, in a lot of ways.”
Many of the women have never played a sport before.
“The thing I love about it the most is that it is one of the only contact sports for women,” Knott said. “It is incredibly empowering for women and there is room for every body type. If you are willing to put in the work, you can be a derby skater.”
The Lansing Vixens defy the stereotypes.
“You don’t have to be a punk rock queen to derby,” he said. “These are smart, really awesome women that I adore.” With a new label and a modern twist, these women don’t skate around in mini skirts and fishnets anymore.
Although, the women are free to express themselves fashionably at practice, an identical black, pink, and green uniform is worn during games.
When asked what it takes to roll with the derby girls, Knott said, “You have to want to be apart of something bigger than yourself.”
The Lansing Derby Vixens have three squads. The A team is the “All-Stars”, the B team is “Capital Corruption,” and the C team is “Old Town Beat Down.”
Sunday practice allows every girl from each team to get together on the rink at the same time.
As the women progress in their skills, determination and commitment, each person has an opportunity to be an “All-Star.”
“Our all-stars team is for the skaters that want more,” Knott said.
These selectwomen travel and compete as members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association for the Lansing Derby Vixen charter team.
Traveling comes with a price. The skaters pay their dues to join the team. They also buy their own equipment and pay for their cost of travel.
“Funding is the most difficult part. No one gets paid,” said Knott. “The league ownership doesn’t make any money, Knott said.”
Skates typically cost between $150 and $200. “It can be a money sucker, but once you get into it you don’t care, he said.”
The passion behind the scenes is what upholds this program.
“My goal is to be the number one team in the world and there’s no reason the team from Lansing can’t be that,” said Knott. “My dream is to quit my job and do this full time.”
“The athleticism, the passion, the endurance and the strength are really incredible. I’m really proud of what we’ve built”