Grand Forks woman aims to be the area’s only 70-year-old roller derby player
By Lisa Gibson / Grand Forks Herald - GRAND FORKS - Lynn Lindholm has been in roller derby for two years. She likes the physical contact of the sport, the overt sassiness and the vigorous exercise. Oh, and she’s 68 years old.
Under the pseudonym Vintage Vixen, Lindholm plays for one of Grand Forks’ two roller derby teams, the Syrens. She says she retired two years ago and tried out for roller derby the next day.
“I didn’t know anything about roller derby,” she says. “I hadn’t skated since I was 6.”
But it sounded like great, sweat-inducing exercise and that’s exactly what she was looking for, unsatisfied with the exercise she was already getting delivering papers for the Grand Forks Herald.
“I wanted something more vigorous,” Vintage Vixen says. “I really liked the idea of physical contact. And that’s what I got.”
Roller derby is a contact sport in which players skate counter clockwise around an oval track. Gameplay consists of short matchups, “jams,” in which one designated scoring player, the “jammer,” scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. But team members can assist their jammer by bunching up into a pack to hinder the opposing jammer. And in this case, hinder does mean jab, slam and smash, inevitably resulting in bruises, bumps, scrapes and even breaks.
“It’s part of roller derby tradition to brag about your bruises,” Lindholm says. “I spent at least $80 on pads after falling and bruising my hip.”
She says she doesn’t wear those pads anymore because she has learned how to skate and fall properly.
“You don’t get injured as much as you think when you know what you’re doing,” she says.
Still, Lindholm suffered a broken leg during a scrimmage last year that resulted in the placement of three platinum screws in her tibia and fibula. She recalls the May incident matter-of-factly.
“I was at the back of the pack, meaning I was out of the action,” she begins. Then, one of the strong skaters on Lindholm’s team skated by and accidentally hit Lindholm’s leg, sending it out from under her. “My leg was broken before I hit the ground,” she says.
Undeterred, she served her time off the track, still showing up to practices and scrimmages, but helping the team in other ways. She was back in her skates in August, a few weeks before the doctors predicted she would be.
“It was always my strong leg and it’s back to being my strong leg,” she says. She adds, though, that if she ends up with another injury like that, she’ll have to go to a non-skating position on the team. But not because of the pain or the inconvenience; because she can’t miss out on delivering papers for that long again.
Lindholm will skate as Vintage Vixen as long as she’s able, she says.
“I’m aiming for 70,” she laughs, adding she knows of no other roller derby skaters who are 70, although the Bemidji team has a skater a couple years younger.
“When she heard about me, she ran over to our locker room.”
The Forx Roller Derby teams, the Syrens and Sugar Beaters, will reorganize so they can play each other, increasing the number of bouts they can hold each year. Currently, the teams only get about eight bouts per year.
“We’ll have to equalize the talent, so someone will have to take me,” she jokes.
While Lindholm says she’s not the most valuable player on the team and calls herself a B team skater, she loves the tongue-and cheek sexuality of the sport, referring to the uniforms that often include very short shorts and fish-net tights.
“I like that it’s sassy.”
So until she’s unable to physically handle the sport, Vintage Vixen is serving up bruises for the Grand Forks roller derby team indefinitely.
“I love roller derby. I love going to practice. I love the challenge. I’ll do it as long as I can.”