MANKATO — A couple years ago, Cat Burns and some of her college-aged friends were sitting around talking.
The subject of old-school roller derby came up -- the contact, the colorful names, the grit and stereotype-breaking athleticism. They laughed about starting their own team. But then they asked themselves seriously:
Could we start a team in Mankato?
“It took us a few years,” said Burns, who’s taking courses at South Central College to become a lab technician. “But we’re going to do it.”
The Mankato Area Derby Girls -- or, M.A.D. Girls as they call themselves -- will hold their official introduction to the community during a fundraiser 4 p.m.-midnight on Saturday at Red Sky Lounge.
The first four hours of the event are family oriented with activities, silent auction, coloring tables and a performance from RakStar Fusion Belly Dancers.
The second half of the fundraiser includes live music -- Betty and Ocho, Boardwalk Arcade, Lady Fingers, Maudlin, Angry Bukowski and Old Towne Ghosts -- as well as the presentation of the team’s logo. Prior to the fundraiser, the team held a logo contest and collected more than a dozen entries.
“We’re going to have a lot of stuff,” Burns said. “This is kind of our big introduction to the community.”
As for the team, there are about 15 core girls on the team so far. They play under the rules specified by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which eliminates the banked tracks and pre-determined show antics of the sport’s once-popular TV counterpart.
Burns, however, is quick to note that the contemporary revival of roller derby still includes plenty of strategy, athleticism and -- of course -- contact.
“That’s what everyone is looking forward to,” Burns said.
The team is hoping to start competition in September with an exhibition match against a team from New Ulm.
In the meantime, Burns said the search continues to find more skaters -- all participants must pass skills and rules exams -- and practice venues. Presently, the team practices on the outdoor hockey rink at Mankato East three nights per week.
Burns said there is no specific type of girl the team is looking for. So far, members include moms, musicians, college students and non-athletes.
“What we really need are people who are willing to put in the time and effort,” Burns said.
For more information, find “Mankato Area Derby Girls” on Facebook.