Maine men’s roller derby ready to roll

Posted Sept. 30, 2013, at 8:36 a.m.
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Amy Martin, &quotPunchy O'Guts," Jodie Keenan, &quotBrannigan's Law," Chris Ziobrowski, &quotFearUs Oxide," and K.T. Long &quotKTNT." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo.
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Amy Martin, "Punchy O'Guts," Jodie Keenan, "Brannigan's Law," Chris Ziobrowski, "FearUs Oxide," and K.T. Long "KTNT." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo. Buy Photo
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Sam Ellis, &quotZeldangerous," Ryan Arnold, &quotMilhouse VanBouten," Chris Ziobrowski, &quotFearUs Oxide," Opie Helstrom and K.T. Long, &quotKTNT." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo.
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Sam Ellis, "Zeldangerous," Ryan Arnold, "Milhouse VanBouten," Chris Ziobrowski, "FearUs Oxide," Opie Helstrom and K.T. Long, "KTNT." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo. Buy Photo
A.J. Caron stretches before practicing with the Casco Bay Gentlemen's Derby in Portland Sunday night. Caron founded the men's roller derby team three years ago with friend Anthony Oddi. The team will have its first Maine bout Saturday night at the Portland Expo.
A.J. Caron stretches before practicing with the Casco Bay Gentlemen's Derby in Portland Sunday night. Caron founded the men's roller derby team three years ago with friend Anthony Oddi. The team will have its first Maine bout Saturday night at the Portland Expo. Buy Photo
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Erica Davis, &quotSweet Peacock," Dana Hayes, &quotGrim D. Mise," Jodie Keenan, &quotBrannigan's Law," Chris Ziobrowski, &quotFearUs Oxide," Tony Richards, &quotFoul Plague," Dylan Rohmam, &quotBroseidon" and Amy Martin, &quotPunchy O'Guts." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo.
Women roller derby skaters help members of a new men's team get ready for their first bout in Portland Sunday night. From left is Erica Davis, "Sweet Peacock," Dana Hayes, "Grim D. Mise," Jodie Keenan, "Brannigan's Law," Chris Ziobrowski, "FearUs Oxide," Tony Richards, "Foul Plague," Dylan Rohmam, "Broseidon" and Amy Martin, "Punchy O'Guts." The Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby is set to play the Vermont Mean Mountain Boys October 5 at the Portland Expo. Buy Photo
Alek Maliski of the Casco Bay Gentlemen's Derby stretches on the floor before practice in Portland Sunday night. The new men's roller derby team will host its first in-state bout Saturday night at the Portland Expo.
Alek Maliski of the Casco Bay Gentlemen's Derby stretches on the floor before practice in Portland Sunday night. The new men's roller derby team will host its first in-state bout Saturday night at the Portland Expo. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — For the first time since roller derby was rescued from history and re-imagined as a legitimate sport, Mainers are getting a chance to see men bump and roll around a flat track wearing wheels on their shoes, just like the ladies do.

The “Not So Jolly Rogers” of the Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby are hosting the Mean Mountain Boys of Vermont at the Portland Expo Saturday night, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. Before the men take to the track, the bout will start with a intersquad contest between the “good” and “wicked” forces within the all-women Maine Roller Derby.

Flat track roller derby has its origins in the 1930s and was revived as a modern sport at the start of the 21st century. Since then, it’s been dominated by women. Currently, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association boasts 212 full-time leagues on six continents. Their male counterparts, the Men’s Roller Derby Association, has only 32 leagues. Maine alone has four women’s leagues. Now the Pine Tree State has a men’s league, too.

Having enough players to finally host a home bout will help the Gentlemen’s Derby meet the requirements to join the MRDA.

A.J. Caron of South Portland started the Gentlemen’s Derby three years ago with friend Anthony Oddi.

“We were picking out names before we had even put skates on. We thought it would be a breeze and everything would come together,” said Caron in an email. “I hadn’t been in skates in twenty years. It was a battle to keep my balance at first on the rental skates at Happy Wheels. We looked like idiots but we didn’t care.”

The pair wore T-shirts with their mostly fictional team’s logo at local open skate sessions to recruit members. They reached out to the experienced competitors at the Maine Roller Derby and other Maine women’s leagues for training and advice.

“We initially started practicing Wednesday nights after Maine Roller Derby practices,” wrote Caron. “It was great because a lot of the skaters from MRD would stick around and help us after their practices.”

Roller derby is played by two teams of five skaters going around a flat track. Each team has a “jammer” with a star on their helmet. The jammer tries to lap the field to score points. The rest of the team, by force and physical contact, tries to help their jammer make it around while at the same time blocking the opposing jammer.

“It takes a lot of thinking and a lot of skill,” said Caron. “And, you know, it is a full contact sport. It’s like a full contact chess game out there with all the things you have to think about.”

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