Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to focus on the Indigo Stars, a team that originated in the 2019 Marble League. Read on to see how this team has stunned the competition!
The Indigo Stars hail from the southern tip of the Indian peninsula and 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 in 2010, 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 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 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 before 2019, had been training for the 2017 Marble League for two years when Coach Ringo abruptly withdrew the team from the 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 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 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 their story. Additionally, Gogo decided to share their personal experiences:
“I was not taking care of myself during training. I tried to eat a lot 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, one of my parents was standing over my bedside. They didn’t speak, and neither could I. It took months of therapy to sort things out with my family and me, and even now, there’s still a rift. I imagine that they’ll get angry that I shared this, to the whole fanbase, that I’m making them out to look bad. But they’re not. Maybe I was.”
We thank Gogo for sharing their story.
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Marble League, the Purple Stars were contacted by the former 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 the 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 at the starting gate on the jumbotron. Although the team got second in the group, they 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 bluer 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 Indie 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 spot 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 the Qualifiers to overwhelming support and encouragement from their fans. They trained in their stadium constantly, taking little time off, but 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 the 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 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 they made it to the last semifinal of the event. On their way down the course, Diego crashed into a wall, pushing Rezzy ahead of them to move on in the race while they were 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 lost control and I spun into the wall. I barely even saw Rezzy there before they 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 them 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 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.”
A Bright Future
an addendum by Orbitball
The Indigo Stars entered the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers with high hopes of a better year. Unfortunately, the Indigo Stars became the newest victims of the supposed “fourteenth place curse”, failing to qualify for the main tournament. Their top-half finishes in tenth and ninth during Block Pushing and the 5 Meter Sprint were not enough, and the Indigo Stars finished the Qualifiers in seventeenth overall.
“It was for sure disheartening,” Coach Ringo remarked, “And after a forgettable performance last year, our team, Gogo especially, took a huge hit. We all took a few weeks off to recover from it, but we also knew we couldn’t let it affect us too much.”
While the main tournament was taking place, Stynth visited the Stars as they were preparing for the 2020 Marble League Showdown:
After Indie picked them up from the airport, Stynth met up with the rest of the team in the Bright Hyu Bubble, where they toured their arena and training facilities, which were fit to hold a Marble League’s worth of over 10,000 attendees.
“We made sure that our arena was up to world-class standards,” Coach Ringo said, recalling the Bubble’s construction plans. “Although we weren’t chosen in 2019 or considered for this year, I am hopeful that we will have the opportunity to host in future seasons.”
During their hike on Isle Hyu, Montoya put into words what the island means for the Indigo Stars: “Isle Hyu is a place that frees us from the marbles we think we are. It is a space so pure that it renews us and gives us hope…and when we have hope, we have everything.”from “Offseason Moments – ML2020 Showdown”, by Stynth
The Indigo Stars found a reason to have hope after the 2020 Showdown, where they earned a bronze medal in the Halfpipe with a combined score of 58.12 seconds.
“We have a sick Halfpipe course in our training facility, which I feel contributed to our success in the Showdown,” Coach Ringo revealed.
After the Halfpipe, Bingo and Indie garnered seven additional points in the Black Hole Funnel, and with Gogo’s finish of seventh in the Sand Mogul Race, the team was saved from another year of the Showdown. The Stars advanced to the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers in sixth overall, just ahead of Team Primary and the Rojo Rollers.
“The Black Hole Funnel was the most fun I’ve ever had in an event,” Bingo said excitedly, “I was dizzy after, but I would gladly do it again given the opportunity. It felt so… satisfying.”
Despite their performance in the Showdown, the Indigo Stars did not receive an invitation to participate in Marbula One Season 2 nor the Marble League Winter Special. The Stars took their time off to find their grounding as a team and clear their minds. The team even started a conservation effort on Isle Hyu to help protect the isle’s wildlife and natural beauty.
“Isle Hyu is our home and a big part of who we are as marbles. It’s almost as if I discover something new I love about the island every time I’m here. This place is truly one of Marblearth’s last untouched beauties,” Indie recalled, looking out over the waters of Lavender Bay during a promotional video. “That’s why we decided to start the Isle Hyu Conservation Foundation with the time we had off. It’s actually been a big success.”
The team’s new foundation focuses on protecting Isle Hyu’s wildlife and making sure any new developments on the island don’t pollute the area. Much of the team’s unused funding goes to their program, and members of the Isle Hyu communities contribute as much as they can.
Indie continued, “It’s cool seeing everyone come together for an effort that we all care about. It’s really helped us clear our minds and has helped us to get rid of anxiety. We’ve become more ‘zen’, I guess you could call it.”
Aside from keeping their minds (and Isle Hyu) at peace, the foundation has had other benefits as well. The team met their manager, Mango, at a rally held in the nearby city of Binglyu in late November. They hit it off almost immediately, and it was clear that Mango shared the same ideals as them.
“We needed a team manager, Bingo and I were practically the only ones handling the ‘behind-the-scenes’ organization, and I was doing all that as the coach as well!” Coach Ringo divulged, looking exasperated. “After meeting Mango and seeing their passion for both marble sports and the environment, we knew they would fit right in, so in February, we hired them as our full-time manager.”
“I’m honored,” Mango beamed, “The Indigo Stars represent our home well, and while I’ve always supported them, I’m proud to be able to be able to support them as one of the team.”
Other teams have also joined in to help support their cause, such as the Green Ducks, who traveled to Isle Hyu after their race at the Arctic Circuit to meet with the Indigo Stars and draw media attention to their foundation.
“They may be seen as our rivals or our ‘opposites’ by fans, but we’re happy to support the Stars, and we always have been,” Quacky of the Green Ducks noted. “Traveling to Isle Hyu was a beautiful opportunity and I feel like they’re making a difference there. Plus, it does help to get the attention of Cable Marble Media.”
The team has come a long way from even their 2019 selves. Their efforts have helped them become more in-tune with each other and their training performance has substantially improved. The Indigo Stars, while maybe not always a formidable opponent, are passionate about what they do, and are a team that should not be overlooked. Indie’s stellar performance and gold medal in the 2021 Practice Race prove that they can compete with the top teams at a high level.
Indie and the team walked through the large crowd of reporters and fans after the race, hoping to catch their plane in time. Their preparations for Marble League 2021 were still very much in progress.
“This is just the beginning,” Indie told the press through winded breaths, “We hope to see you all soon.”
In RetRollSpective, the Indigo Stars are a team that is just getting started. They may have had a forgettable entrance to the Marble League compared to their foils, the Green Ducks, but with hope and perseverance, the team will have many successful seasons to come. Best of luck to the Indigo Stars in the near future, and keep on rolling!