LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WKBT) -

About two years ago, a college friend told UW-L professor Amy Tischler about the Mississippi Valley Mayhem. Her initial thought was to do a research study with the team about the sport.

"Just collect my data and be on my way," she said.

"She came to the team for some questions. She didn't even want to join the team at that point. She just came with lots of questions," said Mayhem captain Melissa Engen.

But that's not the way it worked out. Tischler ended up joining the team.

"My favorite thing is not necessarily the physical activity part of it, but the family-like environment that's been created here," she said.

Her decision to join may come as a surprise. It wasn't for many of her new teammates.

"We just strapped some skates on her and she was hooked from there," said Engen.

"I think roller derby absolutely empowers women in ways that you don't see in other parts of your life," said Jen Snook. "There's something about really competing at a high level, very intense situation."

That environment keeps bringing Tischler back. She now considers herself more of a competitor than a researcher.

"I think the biggest thing that I have found so far is that in this environment, success and failure sort of define differently," Tischler said. "We're willing to fail over and over."