No fishnets in this roller derby

Men Derby Maul Bunyan

CDMRD's Maul Bunyan during a scrimmage.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

The first bout for the new local men's roller derby league -- CDMRD -- is this Saturday night at the Washington Ave Armory. It's a double-header -- the men play first against the Utica Quadfathers, and then the women of the Albany All-Stars take on Central NY Roller Derby. Doors open at 5 pm and it's likely the event will sell out.

One of the new men's league founders, George "Mooseknuckle" Dunckley, answers some questions about the new league, men's roller derby in general and what people should expect on Saturday...

Men Derby MuseknuckleMen's derby seems to be growing in New York, is it growing nationally too?

2011 is the start of an explosion in men's derby. About once a week a new men's derby Facebook page shows up and another league is on the way to its first bout. The Men's Roller Derby Association has been formed with teams from Massachusetts to Oregon, and they are planning championship bouts for the entire country. CDMRD has a goal to join MRDA either at the end of this year or next year.

When was CDMRD created? Who makes up the league?

CDMRD was founded in April of 2010. The founders are Myself, Wellen Dowd, Bearly Give a Shit, and The Fox. We have 15 members and 1 brand new ref. Technically we are a club. However, in derby we fall under the category of a league with 1 team. Our league name is Capital District Men's Roller Derby. Our team name is the Capital District Trauma Authority.

How were you first introduced to roller derby?

My wife played for a season with AASRD. When she was done I joined as a ref. Six months later I was beginning to form the men's team. Three of us work with AASRD [refereeing] and 4 work with Hellions of Troy in either ref or NSO [non-skating official] roles.

What are the athletic backgrounds of the guys on the team?

The backgrounds of our members are as varied as the people of New York. We have roller skaters, hockey players, MMA fighters, football players, and couch potatoes like myself.

That's the thing about derby -- you play both offense and defense, so men of all agility levels, body types, and athletic talent can compete. It is a great equalizer sport. Where the 125-pound couch potato can out play a 250-pound MMA fighter.

Men Derby Wellen Dowd

How is men's roller derby different than women's roller derby?

Men's derby is not different than women's derby. We use the same rules.

I went to my first men's bout this past summer; it seemed really physical -- even more so than the women who played after them. Is that typical of men's derby?

It depends on the strategy of the team. If they are using a fast pack and jammers, yes, it can have more action. If they are using "Stopper Derby," holding back the pack to allow for a quick scoring pass by the jammer, then no it is not as physical. Merry Pain, KD Bang, Scarlett O'Hackya (believe it or not) can all play just as physical as anybody on our team. So in that respect it is still very similar to women's derby.

I guess the main difference is the size of the players. It is visually exciting to see a 200-pound guy put a big hit on somebody. I can see where after a few hits like that people would think it's more physical.

Most people seem really supportive of men's roller derby, but I've heard a little bit of grumbling that "men are trying to take the sport away." What's your reaction to that?

The reality is we could not exist if it was not for the help of AASRD specifically. It seems to me that we can not "take away" what somebody is willing to share. Even though we don't have such a strong relationship with The Hellions of Troy, they have been very supportive this year. So I'm going to say thank you to those that support us.

What would you say to someone -- like this small-scale Facebook page -- that thinks it should stay women only?

Well, I just don't care. Men's derby is here to stay.

Mens Derby Up End AtomBoutfits: personalizing your derby uniform is big in women's derby. Will you guys be personalizing your clothes?

We do this sport because it is both hard and fun. Derby names and bout fits also allow for a little personal expression. Take my name for example: "Müseknuckle," the idea of it is awkward and embarrassing but ultimately funny and harmless. It suites me to a tee. The first time I meet people I might make them feel akward but eventually I'll have them laughing.

The other thing about bout fits and names -- you can pretend to be something other than just another average Joe. Great for the person who works for the state doing the tedious work of planning the budget, for example. So, yes, most of us will be planning a custom bout fit.

You're playing Utica for your first bout -- what do you expect from them?

The Quadfathers are going to be a good first bout for us. They have several bouts under their belt and are very good. We have worked closely with them over the last year. Even if they're lucky enough to beat us this Saturday we already have a rematch scheduled for later in the summer.

I hear you have some local derby news to share, what's up?

It turns out that this will be the last bout of the year for Dottie Damage of AASRD. She is a fan favorite an will be very missed by the league for the rest if the season.

This interview has been lightly edited.

There's more about CDMRD on its blog blog.

photos: Rob Gierthy

Earlier on AOA:
+ How to behave (or not) at a roller derby bout
+ Men's roller derby coming to the Capital Region?

AOA has been a media sponsor of AASRD.

Find It

Washington Avenue Armory
195 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12210


Begs the questions; Have there ever been guy vs gal bouts, or mixed gender bouts? Do they still have banked track leagues in this sport?

I know the men's team here scrimmages against women, and nationally I have heard of quite a few mixed gender bouts (I only hear about guy v gal in scrimmages).

Banked track seems to be a west coast thing (though I'd still say the majority out there are flat track). I haven't heard of many banked tracks on the east coast. Well, and then there's the mid-west - I know only of flat track there too.

Thanks Muse! It's true, this will be my last bout of the season with AASRD! One of the things about Roller Derby is that it's not a paying gig...and sometimes "real" life steps in the way of the track. But I'm not hanging up my skates forever, and you'll probably see me around at future AASRD bouts, just not on the track. :)
Come on out and see the boys skate for the first time and send me off in style!

@ Mr. Galt- Men and women have gone against each other in actually bouts, both bank and flat track. Here is alink from DNN, Team Awesome (women) vs. Team seXY(Men). I think team awesome has won 2 out of 3 times. They are both mixed teams made up of players from multiple teams. Besides that there are a few coed-leagues out there and they may play a mix of men and women on both teams. Mostly though most leagues that have a men's league close to them do use them as a REALLY good scrimmage opportunity. Can't wait for this bout!!!

we have a banked track in Philly.

We play some mixed gender games, in Richmond they had a men's vs women's game.

Our men's team, The Hooligans, have played since March 2007. We play flat track and banked track co-ed, men's and old school games.

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