Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to focus on the Indigo Stars, a team new to the 2019 Marble League.
The Indigo Stars hail from the southern tip of the Indian peninsula and from its neighboring island, Isle Hyu. The island is a lush tropical reserve known for its vast array of colored stars, which is a regularly occurring phenomenon unique to the isle. The inhabitants of the region travel frequently to Isle Hyu to hike and bask in its natural beauty, and, at the same time, are sworn to protect the island from over-tourism.
The five Stars and their coach, Ringo, met on a hike on Isle Hyu ten years ago, and have been close friends ever since. They all live in the metropolis across from the island, aptly named Bright Hyu City for its bright and colorful city lights, which were designed to artificially recreate the stars in the sky. They travel to the isle at the end of each and every week, arriving in the evening to see the stars shine in the night sky. In the morning, they embark on a hike around the island and then return to the city.
“It’s an unspoken tradition for us…no, it’s actually more of a routine,” Diego remarked. “We’ve been doing it ever since we withdrew from the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers.”
The team, known as the Purple Stars prior to 2019, had been training for the 2017 Marble League for two years when Coach Ringo abruptly withdrew the team from Qualifiers. In their place, Shining Swarm’s application was admitted, and they were able to qualify for the 2017 Marble League instead.
“Mental health is so, so important, and we knew that it needed to be taken very seriously. There was no way that the Stars could enter a competitive environment in the state that they were in and perform to the best of their abilities,” explained Ringo. “Our withdrawal was the product of weeks of anxiety and stress for our team.”
“The first thing we did once we recognized that there was a problem was to seek help. We met with professionals. That was the first step,” the team captain, Indie, recalled. “We adopted a healthier lifestyle and cut away from training for a year. We got sleep. We started doing those weekly hikes that Diego mentioned earlier, so we could check in with each other.”
“It was never forced, though,” added Bingo. “We all wanted to be with each other, and ultimately compete with each other. But it was clear that we weren’t in a healthy place to do so.”
When asked if any of the team members were willing to share their personal experiences, Montoya, the team’s reserve member, spoke up:
“My family has had a history of mental health problems. It’s not something I caught, or something that I can cure myself of. It’s this anxiety that I have to live with, every day. It’s a part of me. When it came to training, I was originally on the main team, but as we got back into training for the 2019 season, I realized that I couldn’t really handle being in the spotlight. I decided to stay on the team as a reserve member so I could participate in big group events and substitute should the team really need me. I love this group of marbles, and I would never want to abandon the chance to compete with them. In this way, I’m doing something that’s the best for me, and ultimately, the best for the team.”
We thank Montoya for sharing her story. Additionally, Gogo decided to share his personal experiences:
“I was not taking care of myself during training. I tried to eat a lot in order to bulk up, but I wasn’t eating the right foods. I wasn’t sleeping at all and I didn’t come home a lot. Whenever my family called me, they kept asking why I wouldn’t come home. I grew defensive and whenever I did come home, I would get into fights with them. I grew distant from them and I hid this from the team. When they finally did ask me what was going on at home, I broke down in tears.” Gogo breathed in and out, slowly. “The first thing that I did when I got home was to go to bed. I slept for seventeen hours, and when I got up, my mother was standing over my bedside. She didn’t speak, and neither could I. It took months of therapy to sort things out with my family and I, and even now, there’s still a rift. I imagine that they’ll get angry that I shared this, to the whole marblebase, that I’m making them out to look like the bad guys. But they’re not. Maybe I was.”
We thank Gogo for sharing his story.
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Marble League, the Purple Stars were contacted by the IMC and asked if they were looking to compete in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, which would feature all twenty-four teams looking to compete in the 2019 Marble League. After consulting with his team, Coach Ringo took charge and submitted the team’s bid to compete in the exhibition tournament and be considered for hosting the 2019 Marble League. The team was pleasantly surprised to know that they had made it to the final round of consideration, even if they lost the bid to the Oceanics. They would have hosted the tournament in the Bright Hyu Bubble, a stadium that the Stars constructed in 2016.
The Purple Stars competed for the first time in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, using aliases such as “One star” and “Four star” in the tournament. The team competed in Group F against the Raspberry Racers, Hazers, and Chocolatiers, receiving applause upon being shown in the starting gate on the Jumbotron. Although the team got second in the group, it did not move on against the Raspberry Racers due to getting the lowest points of the second place teams. Regardless, the Stars celebrated their debut performance and continued to train for the 2019 Marble League. Months later, the team changed their name from the Purple Stars to the Indigo Stars to match their team uniforms, which were less purple and more blue in color.
On 01 January 2019, the Indigo Stars were accepted into the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The next day, the team traveled to the Seven Seas Stadium to prepare for the tournament later that month. On 26 January, they competed for a spot in their first Marble League, a spot they had been craving for four years. Indie began the tournament by placing eleventh in Funnel Spinning, earning eight points. Montoya subbed in for her during the next event, Block Pushing, where the Indigo Stars placed fifth and earned thirteen points, moving up to eighth in the standings. Indie returned to the roster for the Relay Run, where the team finished third in their heat and fourth overall, earning fifteen points.
By the end of that event, the Green Ducks, the other rookie team competing, had already qualified for the 2019 Marble League, but the Stars were not far behind. Gogo’s time of 29,05 seconds in the Underwater Race cemented the team’s sport in the main tournament with 50 points earned overall. Both rookie teams earned their spots in the 2019 Marble League over several veteran teams, and they had done so comfortably with no reason to doubt.
The Indigo Stars returned to Bright Hyu City shortly after Qualifiers to overwhelming support and encouragement from their fans. They trained in their stadium constantly, taking little time off, but nonetheless felt healthy and ready to compete in the competition they had always dreamed of. In the preseason, many fans saw them as the potential “dark horses” of the season, citing the popularity of the Green Ducks as overshadowing the Stars’ abilities in tournament. The team did not pay attention to these theories, instead focusing on what they needed to do. They returned to the Seven Seas Stadium in early April, after taking a short trip to Isle Hyu for good luck.
The Indigo Stars began their 2019 season in the lower middle of the pack during the first three events, placing between tenth and twelfth. The team made it to the semi-finals of the Gravitrax Slalom and finished in seventh place, and just missed the finals for the 5 Meter Sprint with Gogo’s finish in fifth place. The Stars returned to the middle of the pack for the next two events, before Diego bombed in the Summer Biathlon, placing dead last. At the midpoint of the tournament, the team sat in thirteenth place, while the Ducks were not sitting, but in fact standing in second place overall.
“It wasn’t anything like we expected it to be,” Indie confessed. “A big part of competing at this level is being the best you can possibly be…but we didn’t expect it to be so competitive.”
“They make it look so easy,” said Bingo, referring to veteran Marble League athletes. “I can’t help but feel intimidated whenever I’m in a heat with a Speeder, or an O’ranger, because they’re so well established and talented. We felt like the Green Ducks would barely bat an eye to us, and that’s probably not even fair to say. I’m sorry. It was just eye-opening, that’s all.”
The Stars placed twelfth in the next two events before making it to the final of the Dirt Race, where Indie was unfortunately the first DNF after leading the beginning of the race. Montoya subbed in for Diego during Rafting, where the team finished in eighth. Diego competed next in the Elimination Race, where he made it to the last semifinal of the event. On his way down the course, he crashed into a wall, pushing Rezzy ahead of him to move on in the race while he was eliminated.
“No, before the rumor mill starts up, that was not intentional,” stated Diego. “We have nothing against the Green Ducks, we don’t consider them our rivals, and we’re really happy that they had a spectacular rookie season. During that last race, I really lost control and I spun into the wall. I barely even saw Rezzy there before she streaked ahead of me.”
After just missing out on the podium, the Indigo Stars finally earned their first medal of the Marble League in the fourteenth event, Surfing. In the second round of heats, Bingo was able to hold on to the surfboard a second longer than Speedy, one of the finest athletes in marble sports, and finished with a score of 50,97 and a bronze medal. Bingo invited the rest of the team members (sans Montoya) to join him on the podium, with the other two teams inviting their members in accordance. After a long season, the Indigo Stars had finally entered the limelight, even if they were out of the running for the championship and the podium.
All five members of the team competed in the penultimate event, Collision, and placed twelfth overall. For the final event, Ringo joined many other Marble League coaches by putting in Indie, the team captain, to race in the Sand Rally. The decision paid off for the Stars, who remained in the top three for most of the race, only falling behind towards the end to place sixth in the event. The Indigo Stars concluded the 2019 Marble League in fourteenth place overall.
“We agree that this was a less-than-impressive start to our career in the Marble League,” Coach Ringo admitted. “It’s really not what we hoped for, but we’re also not that sad about it. We’re grateful that we at least have the chance to compete, after so many years where it just wasn’t right for us. Now is the time that we’re here, and we’re going to do everything we have to do moving forward to stay in this, because we love it that much.”
In RetRollSpective, the Indigo Stars are a team that is just getting started. They did not have the successful rookie season that their foils, the Green Ducks had, but with hope, the team will have many successful seasons to come. Best of luck to the Indigo Stars in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!