Who are the FM Derby Girls?
By the Skaters, For the Skaters
BY TABOR FORMO
When attending a roller derby bout, one would expect to see a team of vicious souls doing everything in their power to knock around the opposing team to come away victorious. While that may be the case on bout days, it’s clear that being a part of the FM Derby Girls means significantly more than being the well-known bruiser on Fargo’s flat track roller derby team.
Living by the motto: “By the Skaters, For the Skaters,” the FM Derby Girls are as self-reliant as they come. They create their own schedule, provide their own transportation, create their own partnerships with local businesses, and even promote and produce their own events. Joining the roller derby team isn’t some ploy for these participants to get out of the house a few days a week, it’s something they can truly embrace and enjoy being a part of.
For the FM Derby Girls, some of the greatest memories they have come from the friendships they’ve formed with opponents near and far along the way. Cal Olson, bench coach for the Derby Girls, said that any hard feelings are always left on the track.
“You’re in the zone and hitting them one minute, but afterwards you’ll be sharing a drink with them,” said Olson. The fact that participants are able to leave it all on the track is what Olson said has allowed him to create some of his greatest memories as part of the team.
Beth Ambrosio, the longest standing team member, had similar thoughts to those of Olson.
“ Of course it gets quite competitive, but you can have this playful side as well,” said Ambrosio. That competitive edge and the ability to leave it on the track has contributed mightily to Ambrosio sticking around for so long.
I think it’s safe to say the same can be said for the majority of the team members. The ability to place themselves in the competitive atmosphere and get away from things for a while, but still be able to live their normal lives and leave the grudges on the track are just what the doctor ordered for many of these members.
Being a Team Player
Amy Leary a.k.a. Thugz is embarking on her third season as the head coach of the FM Derby Girls. Shortly after Leary moved to Fargo, she suffered a broken leg, ending any hopes of being a participant on the roller derby team. With an opening at head coach, Leary jumped at the opportunity to coach this group of women.
“The ability to help make somebody do something they didn’t think they could do is an amazing feeling,” said Leary. “Obviously, I would love to participate, but being the coach can be just as rewarding.”
Beth Ambrosio a.k.a. Maulflower is the only standing member from the 2009 inaugural season for the FM Derby Girls. Ambrosio first read about the Derby Girls in a local magazine and wanted to check it out for herself. She said after not skating for 22 years prior she was “surprised how quickly it came back.” With what seems to be a somewhat high turnover rate, I was curious to know what made Ambrosio want to stick around.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” said Ambrosio. “It’s constantly challenging in the best way possible, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Ambrosio said she was unsure of what to expect when she began, but wouldn’t change her experience for anything.
“At our first home bout during our inaugural season, we weren’t sure how we were going to do, but the fans made it a great inaugural bout experience.” She said that hasn’t changed a bit, and the fan support they have plays a large role in why they enjoy doing what they do.
What’s on Tap
The FM Derby girls will kick off their season on February 24th in Bismarck before hosting their first home bout March 17th at the Fargo Civic Center. As head coach, Leary is in charge of creating the schedule, and said after the team far exceeded expectations last season, she put together a significantly tougher schedule this time around.
“They’re really going to have to put in the work this season,” said Leary. “It’s going to be a very difficult season, but I have plenty of confidence in them to exceed expectations again.”
Regardless of how the season unfolds, Leary said it’s most important to abide by their ultimate purpose: “ It’s a dual mission to provide an area where people can come and learn about other ways of life and be part of a team.”
If you want to check out a bout this season, tickets are available online or at the door. The Derby Girls have four home bouts at the Fargo Civic Center between March and September. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for kids ages 6-12, and free for children 6 and under.
(Tabor Formo is a junior multimedia journalism major at MSUM. He is from Hawley, MN and has been a lifelong Minnesota sports fan. His ultimate career goal is to become a beat writer for a professional sports franchise. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)