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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. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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