At six foot tall, Josh “Little Brother” Misner is no ordinary roller derby player, though it is not his height that is the most unusual. Today’s flat track roller derby, with its stylistic roots in rockabilly and punk rock counter culture, brings up images of fishnet stockings and push up bras on hard hitting women. Mustaches and protective cups are typically not in the picture.
But, with something as great as flat track roller derby, it’s inevitable the guys are going to want to try to muscle in on the action.
Mixed gender and men’s flat track derby teams started popping up about 2005 in the United States. Today, in Western Canada there are three men’s teams, Red Deer Roller Derby Association’s (RDRDA) Dreadnoughts, Calgary’s Glenmore Reservoir Dogs, and the Vancouver Murder.
Still, men playing derby is relatively rare. When merby in Canada is played, the teams often have to borrow players, both men and women, from others to fill their rosters.
I caught up with Little Brother of the Dreadnoughts, who I skate with, and against, in mixed gender league practices and scrimmages at RDRDA, and asked a few question about being a man playing what is mainly considered a women’s sport.
Unchained Malady: How did you get involved with roller derby?
Little Brother: I got involved with derby through my sister. She started skating with RDRDA about a year ago, and dragged me out to one of the practices, in a farmer’s unheated barn with cement floor, during the winter. In the summer I bought my own skates and gear, and started going to regular practices.
UM: What is it like being a man playing a female dominated sport?
LB: It’s pretty well the same as playing in a male dominated sport. It can still seem odd though showing up at the arena and be surrounded by loud, boisterous, smack talking woman gearing up, and there only being 3 guys… who tend to be the quiet ones!
UM: You often practice with female players. What’s it like playing with the women versus just men?
LB: The women tend to be more strategy and finesse. Men can be all about the big hits and forget about the rest of the game. This isn’t to say the women aren’t into hitting hard too though…
UM: Any problems with hitting girls?
LB: I still have a hard time sometimes letting myself play all out. But the mentality of the woman is usually what is referred to douche bag rules. If she hits you hard it’s an invitation to get hit back, and you’ll sometimes hear cries of “hit the bitch” from the woman around you.
UM: How do your friends and family react when you told them you would be playing roller derby?
LB: After I finish explaining that “yes” roller derby still exists, and “no” it’s not fake, and “yes” men are allowed to play…. then their usually pretty interested. Some come to check out games, and hopefully, I can convince some to come out and skate.
Thank you Little Brother for sharing your insights with us and thanks to all the guys brave enough to gear up and play with the ladies.