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      Rollin' with the derby gals

      What do you get when you combine a group of women, crazy-awesome outfits, and roller skates?

      A classic roller derby team, of course!

      And the Dead River Derby team is the largest of 4 roller derby leagues in the U.P., and the only one in the Marquette area.

      "The older that I get, the more that I realize that I hate being afraid of things. And so when a challenge comes up, I have found that, I'm 37 years old, and that I'm at that point that when I'm afraid of something I'm more apt to make myself do it. So, initially roller derby was terrifying."

      But now, Amber "Ripper" Kinonen is rolling, blocking, and jamming with no fear.

      She's a Professor of Reading and Writing at Bay College by day, and practices roller derby by night.

      Kinonen joined the Dead River Derby gals in 2012, and she's now the Co-Captain.

      She says she never would have thought she'd be into skating, until a close friend asked her to join.

      "She asked me if I wanted to join roller derby. And I was like, what kind of a girl do you think I am? That's not something, you know. But then I thought about it and I'm like, well, I guess I am that kind of a girl! And so I signed up and I just said we'll see how it goes. And then I ended up loving it," said Kinonen.

      Captain Glory Sparks says all of the derby gals are not who you'd expect.

      Some are nurses, some are teachers, or other unsuspecting professions.

      But don't let that fool you.

      The ladies are a bunch of tough cookies.

      "The big thing to remember about derby is it's a sport, people get hurt. We've had broken bones, we've had twisted knees and twisted wrists, ankles. You know, people get hit hard, so some people have sore necks. We are putting the chiropractors to serious use in Marquette."

      Practices are twice a week, and last about three hours.

      Kinonen says she loves roller derby for a few reasons.

      "I exercise, and I get to hang out with some of my best friends while I'm doing that, where otherwise I wouldn't typically go out on a night on the town or something because I feel like I don't have time for that, especially being a mom. But, roller derby I can kind of get everything that I need and do it in one practice."

      The season started in March, and this Saturday, the Dead River Derby gals will face off with the Kingsford Krush ladies!

      It's at Lakeview Arena in Marquette.

      Doors open at 6p.m., the bout starts at 7p.m.

      The Dead River Derby gals have even started up a Junior Roller Derby League for girls ages 7-17.

      They're called the North Country Derby Dolls, and they'll be making their debut at halftime on Saturday.

      The ladies say they are always looking for more members, volunteers, and other help.

      Click here to join, and here to learn more. Click here to learn about roller derby!