Dan (Dan-O-Mite) Zimmer takes a break from practice with the Harbour City Rollers at Beban Park’s Centennial Building. Zimmer and a teammate recently qualified for Canada’s men’s world cup team.

Derby dudes

NANAIMO – Roller derby isn’t just for women, as Team Canada men's world cup athletes can attest.

Derby doesn’t discriminate anymore.

Roller derby used to be just for women, but there are increasing opportunities for men to get out on the track, too.

It’s noticeable in Nanaimo, where two members of the Harbour City Rollers – Dan (Dan-O-Mite) Zimmer and Kris (Gingerdeadman) Bennett were named last month to Canada’s 2016 men’s world cup team.

“It’s kind of a role reversal between the way a lot of sports work,” said Bennett. “It was built mainly as a women’s sport and men quickly realized that it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”

He got involved in roller derby a few years ago in Red Deer, Alta.

“As I was getting older, playing hockey was kind of losing its shine,” he said. “Especially in Alberta, it was just turning into which redneck has the most testosterone.”

So he tagged along to his wife’s co-ed roller derby practice, donning his rollerblades.

“I got taunted into buying some quad skates and it pretty well went from there,” he said.

Zimmer started much the same way, as an ex-girlfriend’s enthusiasm about roller derby caught his interest.

“I’ve been skating forever, so I thought, well, I can probably skate,” he said. “And then I just kind of caught the bug.”

Men were limited to refereeing at first, but more programs are becoming co-ed and men’s teams are forming. Both Zimmer and Bennett coach and skate with the co-ed Rollers, and also play for the Vancouver Murder men’s team.

Women’s roller derby is a rough and tough sport; men’s derby, more so. But violence isn’t necessarily the name of the game.

“Strategy is taking over very quickly,” Bennett said. “Still, the hits tend to be a lot harder in men’s derby, [but] no real malicious hits.”

For example, he said he’s never seen a roller derby fight except on YouTube.

“It can get extremely aggressive and it escalates quickly, but it’s not as scary as you think,” said Zimmer. “A lot of times, if you have somebody clean your clock, you’ve got enough protective equipment on that you’re not going to get injured. You’ll get bumps and bruises and you’ll be stiff and sore and what not.”

But all that is worth it, especially for the two Rollers men who are now bound for the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Calgary next summer. Making Team Canada was a long-standing goal for both men. Tryouts were held in three locations across the country and there were 80 guys at the Vancouver tryouts.

“Not everybody is going to get to be able to have that in their life, where they get to represent their country in a sport that they love to play,” Zimmer said. “I’ll definitely embrace every minute of it.”

For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/harbourcityrollers.


Just Posted

This year’s Maple Sugar Festival will be sweet

L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo hosts 17th Maple Sugar Festival this weekend

Adopted pet pig gets killed and eaten

Animal was adopted out by SPCA staff in the Cowichan Valley

Snowfall in Nanaimo creating slippery roads, causing flight disruptions

No snowfall warning in effect, but snow forecasted to intensify

UPDATE: 13-year-old Nanaimo boy located

Chaas Mearns, 13, had been reported missing Jan. 30

UPDATE: Suspect and Mountie bitten by police dog during arrest south of Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

All 19 events are underway across Kamloops, where five to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

This year’s Maple Sugar Festival will be sweet

L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo hosts 17th Maple Sugar Festival this weekend

Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Tina Fontaine was pulled from a river in 2014, her body wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks

Maritimes want their own CFL team

Their biggest hurdle is getting a stadium commitment in place

Wounded Warrior Run BC makes it to the Comox Valley

Day four of the annual fundraiser saw the team stop in Courtenay and Comox

Sask. school shooter to be sentenced as adult

The man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed four people and injured seven others

Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

The Trudeaus’ eight-day visit has been dogged by various controversies since it began Feb. 17

Most Read