2012 MRDA Championships Preview: #3 New York Shock Exchange
One cannot talk about the history of men’s flat track roller derby without extensively referencing the #3-seed New York Shock Exchange. The Shock Exchange participated in the very first men’s flat track derby bout (against Pioneer Valley) and are the only MRDA-founding team to qualify for the 2012 MRDA Championships). Winners of the 2011 Championship, the Shock Exchange earned a trip to this year’s event by amassing an 8-2 record in 2012 including victories over three other qualifying teams. But, the defending champs will have their work cut out for them this tournament season.
The Shock Exchange were stunned in their first bout of the 2012 Spring Roll when upstart and current #1-ranked Your Mom Men’s Derby handled them 199-150. “Playing Your Mom was fun because we had been hearing about them, and it was inspiring to see the things they can do,” Shock Exchange’s Abe Drinkin said. “So many of them have been skating for a long time in different disciplines. It’s an inspiration for me to try the skills they’re using and build up that skating skill.”
Later that Spring Roll weekend, the Shock Exchange narrowly avoided a loss to the St. Louis GateKeepers by coming from behind on the final jam. In August, the #2-seed GateKeepers avenged that loss in New York, 197-141. To wash the taste of defeat from their mouths, the Shock Exchange went out the next weekend and won the Mohawk Valley Cup, an eight-team tournament hosted by the Quadfathers.
In addition to Spring Roll, Abe Drinkin’s other favorite moment of 2012 was visiting the Men’s European Roller Derby Championships: “There were so many interesting things happening and so many great guys. The best part was that they have a lot of the same strategies we do, but they also do a bunch of other things. There were a lot of fresh takes on the sport, and I was able to bring that back to try with my team.” Next month, the Shock Exchange travel to the UK as a team to see how they stack up against the European competition.
In the meantime though, the Shock Exchange are playing hockey. You heard right. In an effort to prepare for Championships, Abe Drinkin said the Shock Exchange are trying a unique approach. “We’ve been playing a lot of street hockey. More than anything, it’s just fun to watch my teammates find fun new ways to work together. Some of the guys never touched a hockey stick before but are now scoring machines.”
Two traits that make the Shock Exchange dangerous are their mastery of the rule book and their experience. The Shock Exchange are the only participants in this year’s Championships to have played all the other teams in the past two seasons. “We have a little familiarity with everybody, and no matter who we play, we are going to have a great time,” Abe Drinkin added.
First on the docket is Portland Men’s Roller Derby. The Shock Exchange dominated Portland at Spring Roll 270-82. But, Portland has matured a lot since then. “I’m very excited to see the progress Portland has made since Spring Roll,” Abe Drinkin said. “They were a lot of fun to play against and were definitely improving throughout the weekend. I think they’re going to bring a very strong team to Championships.
They have such smart and skilled players who bring a lot of intensity to the game.” Fans can expect to see two teams who use the rule book to their full advantage when Portland and New York meet. Think full-contact chess.
In closing Abe Drinkin offered this anecdote: “I love derby fans. Last year, I had a bunch of fans tell me after the tournament that my underwear was hanging out all day. This year, feel free to tell me sooner…unless, of course, you like my underwear hanging out. If that’s the case, you should buy me a drink instead of just staring.”
Tickets are still available for the MRDA Championships “Gateway to the Best,” taking place October 20-21 in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit Brown Paper Tickets for more information. And, keep your browser refreshed at MRDA for more team profiles and interviews.