Lansing Derby Vixens

vixens623 Lansing Derby Vixens
Artwork provided by Lansing Derby Vixens.

The Lansing Derby Vixens are nothing to mess with, that is for sure. A group of strong-minded, excited, and committed women, they not only skate their hearts out but interact with their community in very important ways. Annie Oxidant (or Teresa Zwemer) is the Co-Captain of the Lansing Derby Vixen’s Capital Corruption, and she is also in charge of Recruitment and Retention. She explains, “From my perspective, I’m not sports oriented and this is one I can actually do, and it gives me the opportunity to experience team unity as an adult. I also get to meet and hang out with really awesome people I wouldn’t normally know. It gives me a place to channel charity and community work. Plus, I get to hit people.”

VixensinAction Lansing Derby Vixens
Photo provided by Greg Briggs.

Rexxx Manning (or Ryan Knott) is the Coach of the Lansing Derby Vixens and Director of Communications for the group. He explains how the Vixens really got their start: “A random Facebook page that went up. Something like.. ‘Lansing Roller Derby, The Time Has Come’ and in a couple weeks it was ‘liked’ by nearly 2,000 people… It got out of control so fast, I had no idea it was going to go like that.” Following the creation of the Facebook page, there was a meeting held, and from that came the Vixens. Rexxx smiles, “It was really, truly a grassroots operation.”

Each week, the team practices for about ten hours total including a couple nights of scrimmaging and on-track practice. Then there are team yoga classes and “Endurance Death” for off-skates conditioning. Annie says, “The first 6-9 months, derby is all you talk about. It becomes your obsession (and stays that way).” She laughingly goes on to explain that the team member’s significant others are lovingly refered to as “Derby Widows.” She adds, “That’s why my husband is learning to ref.” Rexxx almost became a “Derby Widow” himself but was able to become involved with the team. Smiling, he explains, “Anyone can play this sport, its just a matter of how hard you want to work… It’s amazing to watch someone fall in love with derby.”

Vixens Dragon Boat Lansing Derby Vixens
Photo provided by Lansing Derby Vixens.

Not only are these fantastic ladies working hard on the track, but they are invested in giving back to Lansing, the community that has so graciously embraced them as well as this sport. Rexxx explains, “We like to be as hyper-local as possible. We like to identify as a Lansing team. In terms of giving money, we want it to be Lansing focused. When considering goods and cash, we are looking at $15,000 in donations in the past year. Any funds over expenditures are donated to charities or reinvested in the league itself.” Annie goes on to say, “We just did the Be A Tourist in Your Own Town for the 3rd year in a row. We volunteered with the Hawk Island Triathlon. Upcoming we are participating in the Michigan Pride, with some derby demos, a booth, and showing support for that part of the community.” The Vixens have recently done events supporting The Greater Lansing Food Bank, Capital Area Humane Society, and Ele’s Place, to name a few.

In the last year, the team has done over 2,000 hours of community service; each participant is committed to making an impact and getting involved in the real work of the community. Annie smiles, “It is a great way to build team community.” The Vixens feel very blessed to have had the reception that Lansing has given them, and giving back seems like the natural response. Rexxx goes on to say, “It really is part of the culture of roller derby.” All home bouts are partnered with a local charity. That means the team sets a goal of $1,000, and at least a $1 of every ticket sold goes toward that charity.

Ludacrush Eles Race 2011 Lansing Derby Vixens
Photo provided by Lansing Derby Vixens.

“I don’t think anyone was prepared for the way Lansing has accepted the Vixens and the excitement it has mustered. It’s just incredible,” explains Rexxx. Laughing, Annie adds, “I did not even get to attend the first home bout because they sold out!” The Lansing Derby Vixens are a point of pride for the community. It really shows in the community members’ direct involvement in the events themselves and the overwhelming support the team receives at their home bouts. It’s like nothing else in the sporting world. Rexxx smiles, “People are expecting fishnets and tattoos, but most veteran skaters are concerned with doing their job on the track.”

Want to see the Vixens in action? You’re in luck. Tickets are on sale now for their upcoming bout at the Lansing Center on June 23rd. They are $12 in advance, and children 10 and under are always free.

Make sure to stay up to date on the AWESOME ladies on their Facebook, website, and Twitter!

~Joanna Dueweke, Feature Writer

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