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ISSUE 121 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/21/2008

Lindsy Halleckson: Artist by day, rollergirl by night

By Julie Howard
Staff Writer


Friday, March 21, 2008

Six short years ago, Lindsy Halleckson was planning her departure from St. Olaf College as a graduating senior. When commencement was finalized, Halleckson ventured forth into the world armed with nothing but a St. Olaf liberal arts education and a double major in art history and studio art.

Halleckson has since carved out a path for herself in the mystery-cloaked world of post-St. Olaf life. Today she is an established artist and owner of DangerPro Designs in Northeast Minneapolis.

In her journeys beyond St. Olaf, she also acquired an alternate identity. Today Lindsy Halleckson is better known as Rebel Stella: Roller Derby Extraordinaire and president of the board of directors of the Minnesota RollerGirls.

Most people know that roller derby involves roller skates and physical violence, but have little understanding beyond. The idea of roller derby does not readily correlate with the image of St. Olaf alumna. "I don't think anyone would expect a nice Ole to come off the Hill looking for a sport that requires smashing into other people, but that is exactly what I ended up doing," Halleckson said.

Despite roller derby's gruesome facade and competitors who sport aliases like Marilyn Monrogue, Wonderbroad, Ann E. Briated and Pain Gretzky, there is more to the sport than women attacking one another on skates. Competition is fierce and requires a high level of athleticism, communication and sportsmanship.

The rules of roller derby are straightforward. During competition, two teams are on the track. Each team has a jammer, whose job it is to pass the other team's skaters. For each skater she passes while she is in bounds, her team receives a point. The pack of skaters is composed of three blockers and one pivot from each team. The blockers attempt to keep the other team's jammer from getting through without using elbows, hands or feet. The pivot leads the pack and controls the speed of her team. The pivots also try to help their jammers through the blockers. Whichever team accrues the most points wins.

The crazy names also follow a sort of logic. Halleckson explained her nickname, Rebel Stella: "Sometimes I feel like an old lady, so Stella is fitting since it reminds me of an old lady name. It is also a play on 'Rebel Yell' by Billy Idol, and I was also listening to a lot of Interpol at the time. And, it's always funny to hear people yell 'Stella!' from 'A Street Car Named Desire.'" Even as such, roller derby may not seem like the path for your typical Ole. And Halleckson does not think she fits that stereotype. "I have to admit that life at St. Olaf was a bit difficult for me. I felt that I didn't completely fit in with the culture and spent most of my free time off campus. I regret that I did not take advantage of some of the experiences that St. Olaf had to offer, but I feel like I attempted to start my adult life prior to my graduation."

On the other hand, many St. Olaf students tend to embody the qualities that Halleckson includes when explaining what it takes to be a good roller derby competitor. "Roller derby demands a huge amount of focus, drive and perseverance. The bouts are intense and mentally challenging, especially on a national level. Like other physical sports, much of the quality of performance during competition is mental," she said.

The Minnesota RollerGirls is the major league organization of Minnesota. They were established in August of 2004 with just six members. Since then, the RollerGirls have grown to a full league, with four regular teams and an all-star team that competes nation-wide as a member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. All participants are unpaid amateurs and run the leagues themselves.

Halleckson joined the Minnesota RollerGirls as the league was just starting up.

"I learned about derby when it was just 10 girls getting together at a skating rink, and I had no clue that it would develop an international following," Halleckson said.

She's been participating, competing and winning derby awards ever since. After serving a year as secretary on the board of directors, she was recently elected president.

Halleckson's education at St. Olaf, and more recently at St. Thomas University, helped her attain her presidential position. "I served on the board for about a year when the current president stepped down. I was completely overwhelmed at the idea of being president and what it meant in terms of time commitment and organizational business knowledge. However, there was a day when I was sitting in class at St. Thomas last October, and I realized that I had a lot of knowledge that the other girls didn't have because of pursuing my MBA. I decided that I wanted to give it my all because I have so much pride in the Minnesota RollerGirls and refuse to let it fail as an organization."

Conversely, roller derby has had a positive effect on Halleckson's personal and professional life. "Derby has taught me how to be a strong and independent woman. Being involved with derby takes a huge time commitment, so I have learned how to tightly schedule my time, create priorities and manage my stress level. Since I have been on the board of directors, I have learned a huge amount about running a business," Halleckson said.

Additionally, the Minnesota RollerGirls have provided learning and growth opportunities for others. "Roller derby is such a new sport, that those of us who were involved in the beginning were the people who really laid the foundation of the sport," she said. "In the last five years, we developed the sport by creating the national organization, determining the rules, determining the way national play works. It's still a young sport and organization, so things are constantly evolving. This is the first sport that really started first as a women's sport, and now there are teams that are starting up for men."

Despite the obvious positive aspects of roller derby, some people still see the sport as a blatant objectification of women. Halleckson and her roller derby comrades see it differently. "The sport could easily fall into a category of pure entertainment if the girls involved were not committed to upholding the quality of sportsmanship and fitness that it takes to be a top national athlete, she said. "I sincerely believe that the women in my league are into the sport for aspects that are completely and totally separate than to be objectified.

The importance of RollerGirls extends beyond the rink. "There are so many aspects to this new sport -- it's entertainment, it's a social circle of strong women and other great people involved, it's a sport, and it's a growing business," Halleckson said.

"Leagues across the country spend an incredible amount of time giving back to the community by being involved in local charity events. None of the girls are paid, so we have the opportunity and commitment to giving much of our proceeds from our bouts to these local charities."

Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the Minnesota RollerGirls either as a participant or spectator can go to www.MNRollergirls.com. Tryouts are held once per year for skaters and referees who are 21 years old or older. National information is available at www.WFTDA.com.





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