ILNews

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.”•

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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. Im very happy for you, getting ready to go down that dirt road myself, and im praying for the same outcome, because it IS sometimes in the childs best interest to have visitation with grandparents. Thanks for sharing, needed to hear some positive posts for once.

  2. Been there 4 months with 1 paycheck what can i do

  3. our hoa has not communicated any thing that takes place in their "executive meetings" not executive session. They make decisions in these meetings, do not have an agenda, do not notify association memebers and do not keep general meetings minutes. They do not communicate info of any kind to the member, except annual meeting, nobody attends or votes because they think the board is self serving. They keep a deposit fee from club house rental for inspection after someone uses it, there is no inspection I know becausee I rented it, they did not disclose to members that board memebers would be keeping this money, I know it is only 10 dollars but still it is not their money, they hire from within the board for paid positions, no advertising and no request for bids from anyone else, I atteended last annual meeting, went into executive session to elect officers in that session the president brought up the motion to give the secretary a raise of course they all agreed they hired her in, then the minutes stated that a diffeerent board member motioned to give this raise. This board is very clickish and has done things anyway they pleased for over 5 years, what recourse to members have to make changes in the boards conduct

  4. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  5. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

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