Rolling Along

MARQUETTE – Amy Lakanen is amazed at how far Dead River Derby has come in less than a year.

“We had our first bout on the road with Mid Michigan (Derby Girls, in Mount Morris) March 9 and they are going to do a return visit with us this summer,” said Lakanen, DRD’s marketing coordinator. “There were just over 40 of us on the rink. We started with like 12 of us when we began this. We have picked up a lot of committed girls. Now it’s ‘boom’ we have a schedule and it’s growing.

“It’s absolutely awesome.”

Dead River Derby is having a session April 6 for anyone who’d like to learn more about the sport and the local team, which will host a bout for the first time May 18.

Both the info session and DRD’s home schedule will take place at Marquette’s Lakeview Arena.

But even more than getting a functioning team, Lakanen is thrilled that DRD is accomplishing what it set as its mission when the project was launched in 2012. That mission:

– Promoting the health and well-being of women

– Promoting a sense of self-confidence and high self-esteem in women

– Promoting and cultivating social interaction and fellowship among members

– Promoting youth involvement in the sport of roller derby and

– Assisting other community organizations with similar missions

That last one was met recently.

“With the sale of our calendar, we were able to collect a bit of money and a portion of that was presented in a check to the Women’s Center,” Lakanen said. “That meant a lot to all of us.”

The calendar, which initially sold for $15, will be on sale at a reduced price at the April 6 event, “seeing we’re a few months into the year already,” Lakanen said.

She’s hoping for a good turnout the afternoon of April 6.

“We invite anybody who’s even remotely interested to come out April 6,” she said. “You can learn about derby. You can join derby. You can volunteer to help derby. You can sponsor derby. Even if you’re just curious, don’t be shy. We’re super friendly.”

And enthusiastic, as evidenced during the team’s first official bout early this month.

“It was like a buzz of excitement,” said Lakanen, who did not play in the bout herself. “The whole league was excited about us. It was a little bit of stress but everyone was super excited. We carpooled down in a caravan and that was fun.

“The other team was impressed with our endurance. We played and fought right to the end. We didn’t give up,” she said.

Lakanen hopes interested parties check out Dead River Derby at the April 6 gathering.

“It blows my hair back, what we’ve been able to accomplish already,” she said. “It’s unbelievable to a lot of us we have been able to do what we’ve done already.

“This is a lot more than a game,” Lakanen said. “The game is exciting but to be able to continue our mission, that’s awesome.”

People do not have to wait until April 6 to join Dead River Derby, she said.

“People are welcome to join at any time. We offer recreational memberships and you don’t have to wait,” Lakanen said with a smile. “You can start today. We’ll get you up on skates before you know it.”

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Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is