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Litigator enjoys the challenges of roller derby

Jenny Montgomery
September 28, 2011
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Personal injury attorney M. Brady Beyers became a fan of roller derby in 2009, but he didn’t expect that two years later he’d be playing the game himself. Eventually, a friend talked him into it.

“I resisted for quite a while,” Beyers said. “It had nothing to do with the lifestyle or the people. I think at that time, I was 37 years old, and I had made it that far without having to have any sort of bone surgically repaired. And I had a prior car accident myself and have some neck issues and didn’t figure that derby would be the best thing for it.”

But at the urging of another friend, Beyers went to an open recruitment event, and he admits he enjoyed it. “I had never intentionally run into somebody and hit someone on skates before until that day,” he recalled.

After that recruitment event Beyers was hooked, and he joined Indiana’s first male roller derby league, the Race City Rebels.

Not a fake sport – and not just for women

At first, Beyers was hesitant to tell people that he played roller derby.
 

rollerderby-15col.jpg M. Brady Beyers eludes an opposing blocker for the Connecticut Death Quads at the Spring Roll tournament in Fort Wayne, Ind., May 14-15, 2011. (Photo courtesy Tom Klubens)

“I’ve had several people that I’ve told – or who have found out – that I play men’s roller derby, and a lot of them laugh,” he said. “But I think these are people that don’t really have a full understanding of what it is. It’s not the WWF-style stuff that used to be on in the ’70s. It’s a true sport, lots of rules, and for the most part, it’s safe, but you’re gonna have the occasional catastrophic injury.”

Unlike the televised roller derby of the 1970s, the modern version of the sport is primarily played on a flat track. However, a handful of banked-track leagues, like those seen in the fictional film “Whip It,” do exist in other states.
 

beyers-brady-mug Beyers

The sport has grown exponentially in the past decade and has branched out to include not just women’s leagues, but men’s, children’s, and co-ed leagues. About 626 leagues – some with multiple teams – exist in the United States, with more than 1,000 leagues worldwide.

“I would say that derby is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – physically – and it’s a different skill set from anything I’d ever done before,” Beyers said.

To be eligible to compete, skaters must pass a set of minimum skating skills – including the ability to jump over an object at least three inches high and recover from a knee fall in two seconds, without using their hands to get up. And to keep those skills sharp, during competitive season, the Race City Rebels practice at least six hours a week.

Beyers has participated in sports before – golf, baseball, wrestling – but he wasn’t sure what to expect when he started playing roller derby.

“I felt like I was in OK physical shape, but I was not in derby shape,” he said. “Cardio has never been my thing, and there’s definitely a lot of cardio involved in this.”

Anthony “DV Ant” Morris, a coach for the Rebels, recognized Beyers’ natural ability right away.

“I remember seeing him skate at our first recruiting event. He skated harder than anyone else there,” he said. “Some of our vets were getting tired, but he just didn’t stop.”

Beyers primarily plays the position of jammer, the person who scores points for the team. Jammers must be agile, fast, and able to take a beating over and over again. Being small – and able to slip through gaps in the pack – helps, too. Beyers, at 5 feet 5 inches tall, was a natural fit for that role.

Beyers said he doesn’t think he’s ever gone up against a skater smaller than him, and he considers himself fortunate that he’s never been seriously injured, especially considering the size of some of the blockers he has faced. One burly skater for Pioneer Valley Roller Derby (of Northampton, Mass.) comes to mind.

“PVRD had a guy named Mongo, and Mongo killed me one time. But it never hurt,” he said. “He absolutely blasted me into the center of the rink, and I stood up and said, ‘Nice hit.’ We both smiled at each other, and I skated past him.”

The company you keep

Spectators might imagine that the men who play roller derby are brutes who enjoy hurting each other. But while tempers may flare during a bout, most skaters play by the rules and enjoy sharing a beer after the game.

Roller derby attracts a broad cross section of people. Beyers’ teammates include an aerospace engineer, an accountant, a drummer for a heavy metal band, an entrepreneur, and others. Beyers is the only lawyer on the team.

Teammate David “Dave Atonement” Weir, a PhD candidate at Purdue University, is the board secretary for the Men’s Roller Derby Association, which changed its name this year from the Men’s Derby Coalition and has been working to promote the sport and uphold high standards for game play. MRDA has 16 member leagues, including the Rebels, and will hold its national tournament in October. While the Rebels did not qualify for the national tournament, they head to Sioux City, Iowa, in mid-October to compete in the Rolling Along the River Tournament. Beyers – recently named the MRDA “Skater of the Week” – has not decided if he will join the team when it travels to Iowa; he’s currently in the process of moving to Hawaii, where his wife just got a new job.rollerderby-factbox.gif

What’s next

After graduating from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, Beyers worked in the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office from 1998 to 2005. He worked for the Ken Nunn Law Office for one year following that, then as a solo attorney for a few years before rejoining Ken Nunn in 2008.

“It was kind of an easy transition going from being a prosecutor and fighting for people that had been harmed in some form or fashion … I feel like I’m still doing the same thing, but instead of compensating people with somebody going to jail, what happens is I’m trying to get damages for someone for what’s been done to them,” Beyers said. “So I’m still kind of protecting the rights of the injured or harmed.”

While playing roller derby requires the kind of time busy attorneys may not have, Beyers said he worked hard to make time for the sport. And when he moves to Hawaii, he intends to make time for another of his passions: opening a fitness club.

“My wife and I both used to be really into fitness. She still is, but with my schedule – living on the southeast side of Indianapolis and working in Bloomington and with my job taking me anywhere from Gary down to New Albany – it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for other things.”

Asked if he would try to start a men’s league in Kauai, he said he doubted he would. While he hasn’t had any serious injuries, his left knee has sent him several messages that it can’t take many more poundings.

“I’m 38. I’ve got a herniated disc in my neck. So I’ve often asked myself, ‘What the hell am I doing out here?’” he said. “It’s fun – it’s a great time – but it also allows you to stay fit. And to do something very few other people get the chance to do.”•

__________

Editor’s Note: Indiana Lawyer reporter Jenny Montgomery is affiliated with the Circle City Derby Girls, whose umbrella organization – Circle City Rollersports Cooperative – originally housed the Race City Rebels. The Rebels formed their own independent league in 2010.

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  • M. Brady Beyers
    Brady came in to this world a small baby, 6lbs. 4ozs. He has always achived his goals. I may be tooting my own horn here but he has been the light of my life, he's my son and he is a very special human being. Thank you for writing this about my son.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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