The Rapidian

Grand Raggidy Roller Girls gear up for fall season

Grand Raggidy Roller Girls get ready for their next season, and talk about what makes roller derby so great.
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Upcoming games

  • Sep 22, 2012

    All Stars and Attack VS Paper Valley

    Rivertown Sports Grandville, MI


  • Oct 27, 2012

    All Stars and Attack VS Toronto CN Power

    Rivertown Sports Grandville, MI


  • Nov 17, 2012

    All Stars VS TBD / Attack VS Glass City

    Rivertown Sports Grandville, MI



For the complete schedule, visit their website here.

The Grand Raggidy Roller Girls is a roller derby league based in Grandville. The league consists of three teams: The Grand Raggidy All Stars, the WFTDA ranked competition level team; The G-Rap Attack!, the mid-level team; and The Rapid Assault, made up of mostly newer skaters.

All players start by completing basic training. The time spent going through basic training depends on how much experience the individual has when they started. Once a skater receives their "green star," they are eligible to play on The Rapid Assault, moving up in ranks as they get improve their derby skills.

"I had gone to maybe one skating party in middle school," says Ann Kuipers, a newer skater who recently got her green star. "My method of 'stop' when I first started was the wall." Kuipers, whose skater name is Ann O' Steel, says she has since improved her skating ability, and no longer needs the wall to stop her.

Another skater, Marie Bolen, is a skater in training and started seven months ago.

"It has been frustrating, fun, challenging, exciting all at the same time," Bolen says. "There are times I feel great and feel like I’m really getting my skates to work the way I want them and then other days I feel like I’ve barely made any progress."

"The sportsmanship of the women is amazing. Even with opposing teams, the players are respectful and friendly. You can tell that they are out there playing for the love of the game and competition," says Bolen in regards to what someone unfamiliar to roller derby might be surprised to know.

"The other thing is what a family friendly atmosphere the bouts are. The bouts are exciting, physical and aggressive, but nothing is over the top. Many of the skaters have families and they want the bouts to be a sporting event where other people can bring their families as well," adds Bolen. "It’s a great thing to see a little girl looking up to these women and admiring them for their athletic prowess."

"These are the greatest athletes on earth, no question," says Ray Simon, the announcer for the Grand Rapids league in addition to the Kalamazoo league. "Not necessarily for athletic ability, though many can challenge for the title in that aspect as well, but for the actual spirit of the sport."

Referee Jake Jacobs says there care be a lot of misconceptions about the sport and how it's played.

"Roller derby still fights against the common misconception that it is still "theatre in the round" so to speak. Many first time attendees are surprised to see how skilled the skaters are and that it is real after all," says Jacobs.

"There is a popular notion that the skaters are punks, rockers, and other members of fringe culture. This is a grossly unfair characterization. Our members come from all backgrounds and professions and are united in a common bond of competition."

Claire Graves, who owns Bartertown Diner with her husband, Ryan Cappelletti, is businesswoman by day, roller derby competitor by night.

"My experience has been challenging and fulfilling. I had no experience skating beyond middle school roller skating parties so the first year with GRRG was difficult," says Graves. But while it may have been hard in the beginning, she adds, "I absolutely cannot imagine my life without it."

After taking the summer off from competition, the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls begin their fall season on September 22 against Paper Valley.

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