Rollin’ on the River

MARQUETTE – Janelle Buttery was living in Austin, Texas, when roller derby was starting its renaissance in that trend-launching community.

Before she had a chance to get involved in the sport, she moved back to Marquette.

“When I heard that Dead River Derby was starting here, I immediately jumped in,” Buttery said. “Now I am the vice president of our league.”

Buttery, whose roller derby name is Nitta’ Pleazzz, will be taking to the track with her Dead River Derby teammates to take on the Escanaba Rollin’ Hellcats tonight at Lakeview Arena in Marquette.

The bout is being billed “Rollin On the River” and is a benefit for the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.

For those unfamiliar, Buttery offers this explanation of her sport.

“Roller derby is a full-contact women’s sport using quad roller skates,” she said. “It’s the fastest growing women’s sport in the world.

“At a bout, two teams compete hard,” Buttery said. “It’s a fast-paced, hard-hitting action sport. But there are rules like no punching, no kicking. Things like that will get you kicked out of the bout.”

Roller derby is much like hockey in that a competitor checks an opponent, using her hips, her shoulders and parts of her back, Buttery said.

“Roller derby was beyond what I hoped it would be,” she said.

The team is always happy for new recruits – age 18 and up – to join the fun.

“We still have fresh meat training but it’s a new system. Instead of just being a summer thing, anyone can join at any time during the year,” Buttery said.

In fact, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, the DRD – which is in its second year of operation – is having a recruitment event at Lakeview Arena.

“It’s a chance to get info, to try on gear, to watch practice,” she said. “People who come can talk to us and ask us questions.”

A junior derby league is also being formed for ages 7-17, Buttery said.

Buttery is excited about tonight’s event.

“Be sure to to check it out,” she said. “The doors open at 6 and the bout is at 7.”

Tickets are $5 for kids 10-17 and free for those 9 and under. Adults tickets are $10 at the door but VIP tickets are another option.

“We have limited VIP tickets for $25,” Buttery said. “With that you get comfortable track side chairs, and drink servers. Plus popcorn.”

The event also includes a Craziest Fan Contest at halftime.

“So dress up and be wild,” she said. “The judging will be by crowd applause and prizes will be awarded.”

For more information on Dead River Derby, visit

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240. Her email address is