Author Topic: 2013 MRDA Championships Coverage  (Read 1379 times)

Offline Jonathan R

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2013 MRDA Championships Coverage
« on: November 02, 2013, 07:43:21 PM »
Ready to Roll
From the Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | In the tough world of men’s roller derby, Saturday and Sunday will be like the Super Bowl, Final Four and World Series combined – only on roller skates. And with guys nicknamed “McKilla Guerilla” and “Shreddy Mercury.”

As many as 500 players and fans are expected at the Long Lines Family Rec Center for the 2013 Men’s Roller Derby Association Championships.

Eight teams will be competing in the elimination tournament, starting at 8:30 a.m. The groups are the top-scoring teams in the 34-member league, comprised of squads like the Puget Sound Outcasts, of Tacoma, Wash.; St. Louis Gatekeepers; and New York Shock Exchange. Deep Valley Belligerents, of Ukiah, Calif., will travel the farthest to compete  -- 1,783 miles.

Other teams are Your Mom's Roller Derby, of Des Moines; Magic City Misfits of Jacksonville, Fla.; Mass Maelstrom Roller Derby, of Lancaster, Mass.; and Bridgetown Menace, of Portland, Ore.

Sioux City Kornstalkers, which didn’t finish in the top eight, is playing host. Team member Ryan "Camel Joe" McClennen, 28, of Gayville, S.D., said Sioux City is the perfect venue for the big championship. He’s heard of hotels being booked solid and hopes the event will earn some respect for the sport, which still is mostly associated with female teams.

"Isn't that a sport for girls?" McClennen said with a shrug. "That's what people say after learning I'm on a roller derby team."

But it’s serious business, in which two teams of five members simultaneously skate counter-clockwise on a track. Teams have a designated jammer -- a scoring player -- and four blockers. The jammer's job is to out-lap members of the opposing team on the track.

It sounds simple, but the game can become rowdy and aggressive -- one of the reasons it became popular on television in the 1980s, a kind of combination hockey-professional wrestling. Shouting at opposing players is expected. Over-the-top antics and nicknames are standard.

McClennen became interested in the sport when his girlfriend, Melissa "Sum Mo Payne" Dittberner, helped found the Roller Dames, a Sioux City women's flat-track roller derby team, in 2008.

"I became a referee and coach for Roller Dames, and then Mo became a referee and coach for the Kornstalkers," said McClennen. "It's unusual for women's and men's roller derby teams to have such a close alliance, but that's always been the case with our teams."

It’s a common trend, said Erich Bennar, president of the Men's Roller Derby Association, formed in 2007.

"The female roller derby teams are better established because they've been around a lot longer," he explained. "Since men can participate in other competitive sports, the women feel like we're encroaching on their turf."

Dittberner said that isn't the case with Sioux City's teams.

"We've played against one another and have gotten better because of it," she said. "The Roller Dames may play with more finesse, but the Kornstalkers have taught us to be more brutal on the track."

McClennen said the Kornstalkers can be forceful at times, but roller derby is more than a bunch of players crashing into each other on skates. The Kornstalkers started about three years ago.

"The sport is definitely aggressive," he said, "but it attracts many really impressive athletes who love what they're doing."

The sport also attracts athletes who are willing to play for free and pay their own travel expenses. The 2012 championship was held in St. Louis. The first tournament, in 2011, was in New York.

McClennen said he’s looking forward to seeing the competition. He said the players are true athletes.

"Men's roller derby is filled with brilliant athletes who can skate ridiculously fast and know how to play the game with both aggression and skill," he said. "You'll see the best of the best at our tournament."
Jonathan R
MRDA Director of Games
New York Shock Exchange