Published on October 18th, 2013 | by Andy Frye4
Photo: Sean Hale
The Boys Are Back in Town: 2013 MRDA Championship
Starting Friday, October 18, the Men’s Roller Derby Association will hold its fourth men’s derby championship tournament, with the Sioux City Kornstalkers hosting the eight top ranked teams in MRDA.
Starting Saturday at 8:30 A.M. local time, the Deep Valley Belligerents of Ukiah, California, will take on the current MRDA champions, Your Mom Roller Derby of Des Moines, Iowa, in the opening bout.
Subsequent action in the first round will see the St Louis GateKeepers, last year’s runners-up, take on Mo “Quadzilla” Sanders and the Puget Sound Outcasts at 10:30. MRDA’s matinee feature will be made up of a 12:30 P.M. matchup of the New York Shock Exchange versus Portland, followed by the Magic City Misfits against the Mass Maelstrom at 2:30 P.M.
Ever since roller derby’s reemergence in the days shortly after 2001, women’s teams such as Gotham, the Oly Rollers, and the group of women who started it all, Austin’s Texas Roller Girls, have dominated much of the interest from fans along with the media conversation.
Inspired by the athleticism of women’s derby and the sport’s growing international reach, the last five years has seen a surge not only in participation of men in the sport as coaches and trainers, but also as skates-on participants in the world’s fastest-growing sport.
Jonathan Rockey, a jammer with the New York Shock Exchange, has been involved with MRDA since the beginning. Rockey was one of a few derby enthusiasts who had a hand in crafting the original organization which was titled the Men’s Derby Coalition before eventually changing its name in 2011.
“Men’s derby started as just three teams trying to help the sport grow,” Rockey said. “Now, the Men’s Roller Derby Association has the largest collection of skating talent and highest level of skating competition I have ever seen.”
The first MDC championship in 2010 took place in Maryland and has rotated its locale each year. The championships landed next in New York for the 2011 tourney, before heading to St. Louis last year, and Sioux City, Iowa, for 2013.
In 2012 the St. Louis GateKeepers hosted the tournament at home. MRDA’s 2012 Championships made for an exciting weekend which culminated in a final bout in which Your Mom made up a four-point deficit, to beat the GateKeepers in the a last jam by a single point.
Scott Meyer, who skates for St. Louis as Magnum PIMP, weighed in on MRDA and where men are taking the beautiful game.
“Previously, it was always the guys watching and learning from the girls’ play. The years of experience the women had were a huge asset and the guys were eager to learn,” said Meyer. “Now that the guys have years of play under their belt, they are coming up with strategies on their own that the women are learning.”
Just this week, MRDA added six new leagues to the fold. Leagues from the US, including the Cincinnati Battering Rams, Chicago Bruise Brothers, and Big O Roller Bros from Omaha, Nebraska, were admitted to the association along with three teams from abroad. The Inhuman League from Sheffield joined MRDA this week along with their fellow Brits, Tyne and Fear Roller Derby, a league from Newcastle, in northeastern England. Evening up the roster of new MRDA inductees is Canada’s newest addition, the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs from Calgary.
The evolution of the men’s game alongside the growth of MRDA leads many observers of the sport to think that men’s derby teams will push the sport further in coming years. While the style of play is evolves side-by-side in men’s and women’s derby, Meyer thinks that anyone watching closely will see as much top play within men’s bouts as much as from clashes between the top women’s teams.
“The current state of derby is very exciting,” Meyer said. “In almost any bout you watch, men’s or women’s, there is something you can take away and incorporate into your practices.”