Monday, September 7, 2015

Small Town, Michigan

Hailing from Kalkaska, MI (population 2,035) in the county of the same name (population 17,196), The Small Town Outlaws are home town heroes.  However, their successes and challenges are similar to many leagues.  This entry takes a handful of Outlaws to the still forests and sandy shores of the Grand Traverse Bay that are the hallmarks of  northern Michigan.  Additional Photos can be found in this album.



From Left:  Violet Rage, LilBit-o-Fury, Dee Railya, and Jackie Bauer


Kalkaska is a small town with a very enthusiastic crowd, especially against our cross town rivals, Traverse City. Visiting teams are surprised what a big deal our small town heroes are on the track. I've skated for Indianapolis (Circle City), Traverse City, and even Team Michigan and have never seen anything quite like the fans of the Small Town Outlaws.

- Jackie Bauer


Name Violet Rage
Age 24
Children 1 boy (2) 1 girl (7)
Height 5’ 5”
Weight 165 lbs
Started 2012



Roller derby is an addiction! Ever since my very first practice I was hooked and can't imagine my life without it! I feel the risk of injury and the money I put towards it is all worth it, because I have made life long friends who are more like family and I'm setting an amazing example for my daughter!

- Violet Rage



Name LilBit-o-Fury
Age 35
Children 1 - 19 yrs old
Height 5’ 1”
Weight 155 lbs
Started 2012


I know when I get old I will have amazing stories to tell and they won't be the kind where I just wished I would of done something. In roller derby you learn fast that your not in competition with everyone else. Your competing against yourself and that voice in you head that tells you to quit when it hurts. You learn that even though your head says you can't skate 10 more laps .... You can push through and keep going. I think we all sometimes have to remember that even when things get tough and your head says you can't keep going you can just keep moving and eventually you make it though.

- LilBit-o-Fury




Name Muffin Toppler
Age 34
Children 2
Height 5’ 2”
Weight 145 lbs
Started 4 1/2 years



It's a time for me to be me. Raw, unfiltered, unprofessional me.

- Muffin Toppler




Name Dee Railya
Age 33
Children 1 - 3yrs old
Height 5’ 5”
Weight 210 lbs
Started 2011



Roller derby has helped me to become a better me. I very much lack self confidence. I have always been the Big Girl and up until I strapped on my quads, never embraced the person I am. Roller derby helps to keep me strong inside and out.

- Dee Railya



Name Jackie Bauer
Age 32
Children None
Height 5’ 2 1/2”
Weight 150? lbs
Started May 15, 2010


I've dealt with body image issues for years and at one point took myself down to 109 lbs. I wasn't healthy or happy and it didn't look good on me. Through roller derby, I've learned to appreciate my strength and power and not worry about my appearance. I can go without makeup for weeks quite happily. My teammates oooh and ahhhh over my calves and back muscles which makes me blush, but it feels pretty good.

- Jackie Bauer



I am proud of who I am.
I am proud of who I will become.
I am strong.
I am determined.
I'm an Outlaw.

- Dee Railya









A Note from the Photographer

This set with The Outlaws is both a nostalgic piece as well as a transitional one.  I spent the first 9 years of my life, and several weeks in each following year, in the tiny community of Fairview which lies 65 miles east of Kalkaska.  In Northern Michigan terms, The Outlaws are my hometown team.  On the other side, Body By Derby has ruled my life and my creative outlet for three years.  I made the decision to move on to other things, one of those being just getting out and photographing people. 

On January 6, three days after shooting the Body By Derby sets for Windy City and Gender Non-Conforming individuals, my father was placed in the back of an ambulance.  He died somewhere between his house in Fairview and the nearest hospital almost 40 miles away.  My Father was born on the family farm located a couple miles outside of Fairview in 1938 in a house with a dirt floor.  Except for a brief stint in the army and maybe some short-term residences in his early 20’s, he never lived more then four miles from the family homestead. 

Since January in Northern Michigan can be brutally cold and snowy, my siblings and I opted to return in May to clean out his house.  I have a lot of love and fondness for Northern Michigan and this trip to clean out his house signaled the end of my real connection to the area.  I have aunts, uncles and cousins, but he was my core connection.  I can be a sentimental and somehow, it felt right to symbolically bridge my past and present.  The obvious bridge was to merge derby, photography, and my hometown league.  So, I knew what I had to do on this last trip to my father’s house.

I knew Jackie from her time with Circle City Derby Girls so I reached out to her.  Understandably, the Outlaws would have preferred Body By Derby, but I had already committed to myself to the transition I had to make.  So, we went for a day of shooting.  The results are beautiful and trigger some of my favorite memories of living in Northern Michigan.  I will admit, this set is not distinctly derby, but I think it’s a great homage to the beautiful landscape of the region and to the derby players who call it home.  It’s also tribute to the small town leagues everywhere who bring derby to life in the wildest places.

Cory Layman
Sunday, September 6, 2015

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