Alaina Dow was at the Minot YMCA when she first heard of roller derby.
The 34-year-old Zumba instructor was teaching a class when in walked Christina Wolff. A conversation started, a friendship developed and before long, Wolff invited Dow to try out for the Nodak Knockouts, a roller derby team Wolff started.
"I went and checked it out," Dow said. "I fell in love."
Carolyn Humpal, middle, tries to get through a pack of Nodak Knockouts which includes Rebecca Damato, left, and Breck Harris, right.
The Knockouts became the first official roller derby team to play a game in Minot when they took on the Attackonites, a squad from East Grand Forks, Minn., Saturday at Maysa Arena.
For $15, the fans could sit or stand rinkside. The vibe was party-like. Alcohol was sold, and by the time the mixer - a match between two teams known as the Beauty School Dropouts and Greased Lightning, concluded and the main event neared its beginning - one man built a pyramid of beer cans on the rink.
Two public address announcers introduced the athletes. The announcers each had uniforms, one dressed as a professor, and each of the players owned a unique, though fictional, name. Wearing the No. 36DD, "Strawberry Knockout" played up to the audience, sliding into the beer can pyramid on her way around the track.
"You've got to please your crowd," said Rebecca Damato, also known as Strawberry Knockout.
In addition to covering half her face with paint, Damato sprinkled fake blood on her neck.
The mixer was cut short with more than 10 minutes remaining because one woman had to be taken out on a stretcher with what appeared to be a broken leg. Before halftime of the bout that followed, another girl was taken away by medical personnel, this time a member of the Knockouts.
"You don't like to (see injuries), but it happens," said Wolff, Damato's mother-in-law and known on the track as Big Bad Wolff. "It's a full-contact sport."
Said Dow: "It's rough out there."
Wolff is confident the Knockouts will hold more bouts in Minot.
But with the success of opening night came some mistakes to build off of. In addition to the injuries, the main event started more than 45 minutes late.
"It's certainly a learning experience," Wolff said. "It's a steep learning curve."