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Wednesday, April 9,2014

Vote for Vixens

Local roller derby league has shot at $25,000 prize

by Nicole Halvorsen
The Lansing Derby Vixens hope to skate past the competitors to win a national contest this week. The local roller derby team has made it to the top 10 in the “Make Your Idea Happen” contest, sponsored by the office supplies chain Staples. The contest puts the Derby Vixens in the running (rolling?) for a chance at a grand prize of $25,000 gift certificate to Staples.

Ryan Knott, Derby Vixen coach, said the team would use the prize money to equip the locker rooms and the audience areas. Essentially, he said, they’re looking to create the feel of a professional sporting event.

“We’ve grown really fast and really smart, and I want to see that continue.,” Knott said. “I want to be the number one team in the world. Our mission is empowering women. We inspire confidence in our players, and we want to provide great role models for young women and for the community.”

All 10 finalists are awarded prizes, including a $15,000 second prize, $10,000 third and seven $5,000 payouts. Plans for the money also include new TVs for audiences to be able to see the games in high definition, as well as enable high-speed networking.

The team plays at the Lansing Center, but it has eyes on moving into another space as early as this year.

“We want to make the space our own and have it be somewhere where we can do everything,” said Chelsea Frispoe, Derby Vixen vice president and skater. “We have limited resources. It’s so cool to see us go from nothing to something national. No matter how it turns out, it’s a big deal for us.”

After making the top 10, Staples had videos created for each of the finalists, which are posted at makeyourideahappen.dja.com. You can vote for the Derby Vixens once a day until April 16. Each vote enters you for a chance to win a $100 Staples gift card.

“We want it to be an overall positive fan experience,” Knott said. “(Staples) sells lockers, fitness and athletic equipment. They could do a lot for our new facility.”

Staples received over 16,000 entries to the contest. Knott said he entered on a whim; to take part, you had to write 100 words about something you were passionate about.

“There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than roller derby,” he said. “The video captures quite well my passion for the sport, my team and Lansing. The fact that someone else recognizes that passion is amazing to me. I can’t even begin to describe (making it to the top 10).”

Knott’s team is part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, a national organization consisting of over 240 teams. The Derby Vixens consists of about 50 skaters, as well as another 20 or so volunteers who travel around the Midwest to play.

“We were invited to Alaska, but couldn’t make it work with our schedule,” Knott said. “Next time.”

Roller derby is a high contact sport played by two teams who skate in the same direction around a track. The game consists of a short series of matchups, where a designated player, the jammer, scores points by lapping the opposing team, while the other team members act as offense and defense to keep the opposing jammer from passing.

The derby team was founded in 2010 when Knott created a Facebook page. Frispoe is one of the founding members. The team has donated over $25,000 and “hundreds of hours” of community to local charities and groups, including the Westside Community YMCA, Ele’s Place and EVE. Knott said the community has been largely supportive of the Derby Vixens, the biggest indicator being continuous ticket sales. “We’re really committed in giving back to the community,” said Knott. “They’ve been so amazing, we can’t help but give back.”

And if the money comes through, Knott’s got an idea to show how he feels about the community — permanently.

“If we win this thing, we will probably have some sort of event to thank everyone for their support,” he said. “And I will definitely get a #lovelansing tattoo.”

To vote for the Lansing Derby Vixens:

Go to makeyourideahappen. dja.com. You can vote for the once a day until April 16. Each vote enters you for a chance to win a $100 Staples gift card.

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