There’s no doubt about it, Roller Derby is an action packed sport filled with lots of physical contact and yes, it is a real sport.
My first impression as the girls went skating round and round was, “What the heck is going on here?”
But as the game went on, the concept was pretty easy to understand. Though I couldn’t pin-point any single sport that it closely resembled, Roller Derby seems to comprise a number of different sports combined.
Throw in a little hockey (the checking part), a bit of pro-wrestling (the showmanship and personalities) add speed-skating (switch the ice skates with roller skates, though) and lastly, throw in a bunch of crazy girls who like to beat the crap out of each other and you get Roller Derby.
Actually, to get a clear picture of how Roller Derby is played, go to this link on the Minnesota Roller Girls website and you’ll see exactly how it’s played: http://www.mnrollergirls.com/about/rules.php
With the physical action and rough play, the last thing you’ll ever think you’ll see on the Roller Derby track is a Hmong girl. Look again. There are actually two of them!
Introducing Vuedoo Prodigy and Chinese Take-out! Two rough and tumbling Hmong girls who have earned high marks for their play and personalities.
We caught up with Vuedoo Prodigy, a two year ‘veteran’ who has established herself as a bonafide star of the league. She plays ‘jammer’ on her team, Rockits and was voted co-captain of her team. She also holds the honor of being on the All-star team, the traveling team that plays other teams from throughout the nation.
Hmong Today: Wow, the stadium (Roy Wilkins Auditorium—the same place the Hmong New Year in St. Paul is located) is packed! I hadn’t expected to see so many fans!
Vuedoo Prodigy: Oh yeah, Roller Derby is really making a comeback around the nation. It used to be huge back in the 60s and 70s and then it died off.
HT: How did you get into this sport? It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing a Hmong girl would be into.
VP: Well, I’ve always been an athlete playing all sorts of sports when I was younger and so when a friend told me about the Minnesota Roller Girls I just went for it. Actually, there’s a four-hour try out and if you pass that, there’s a three-month ‘boot-camp’ that you need to attend.
HT: How much do the girls get paid?
VP: This is actually an amateur sport run by volunteers. All the profits go to a selected charity. We pretty much do this for the love of the sport and competition.
HT: The action seems so physical and yet there is a pro-wrestling aspect about it. Are you girls really competing to win, or is it staged like pro-wrestling?
VP: Oh no, Roller Derby isn’t fake at all. We actually train all the time and when we compete, it’s all real. We’re out there to win! Back in the 80s when Roller Derby made a revival there was a fakey element to it, but that didn’t work out too well.
HT: Where can we find more about you and the Minnesota Roller Girls?
VP: You can go to our website, www.mnrollergirls.com
(Editor’s note: You can find out more about Vuedoo on her Myspace page at: www.myspace.com/vuedooprodigy…or just Google “Vuedoo”)
Check out the MN Roller Girls Championships on April 12 at 6:30PM at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, MN