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Dirty Verde Roller Derby training to compete
Members of the DVRD team
lean into a turn during a sprinting drill Friday at dusk on the flat track at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. VVN/Sean Morris
7/14/2012 2:00:00 PM
By Sean Morris
COTTONWOOD - Derby girls learn on a curve. With a deluge of points jammed against permeable defenses, established roller derby squads flush new teams like Arizona monsoons. If you observed one of the Dirty Verde Roller Derby's bouts in the first few years, you saw them slaughtered by tactful teams notching tallies with ease.
That doesn't happen anymore. Entering their third season, the derby girls donning lime green have learned some things--what works and what doesn't--against the better teams in the state.
"We're still a new team, only three years old. A lot of the teams we play have been around for 10 years or more," said Jenna Snoke. "We've improved so much in the last year. When people come out to see us, they'll be amazed. We've grown by leaps and bounds-the longer we're together, the more we learn, the better we're going to be."
At the state championships in April, DVRD lost by 50 points to teams they once lost to by 200. Opponents took notice and complimented the Verde girls for their improvement.
DVRD won "Romp in the Swamp" June 30, an away bout in Flagstaff against High Altitude Roller Derby (HARD), 152-120.
"I still hurt from hitting those girls a few weeks ago," said Bam Wow.
The Verde girls were evenly matched with HARD and they duked it out at the Flagstaff Athletic Club. Both teams woke up sore the next day. Winning eased the pain for Verde.
"It was probably the most intense, hardest hitting bout I've ever been a part of," said Ghostface Crilla. "It was awesome."
HARD is a relatively new team too, but DVRD members said HARD has veterans who used to play bank track in Phoenix. Tasting victory has DVRD members motivated to progress further.
"Staying together and having a strategy has been huge for us," said Ghostface Crilla. "We never really had a strategy before. Communication is really important."
Aiding the team's improvement is head coach James Herrera. DVRD officially brought Herrera in as the head coach in April. He hadn't coached roller derby, but he played a lot of sports, including middle linebacker in college at Western New Mexico.
"I can't take the credit for the team improvement--it's more in the design of bringing the team together, making them function more as a team--that's my big focus, the little things, the techniques, and team. That's why I think they've seen success," said Herrera. "I don't care how much talent you have or don't have, if you're not functioning as a team, you're not going to be successful. My mentality as a coach isn't based on winning and losing--it's about competing as a team. I don't bring derby skill, what I bring is the team attitude."
DVRD girls said it's a benefit having a coach not on skates because it's hard to coach and skate at the same time. Herrera gives DVRD direction, and they're heading toward competing at a higher level.
They're also heading toward Las Vegas for RollerCon 2012. Nine DVRD girls plan on attending the five-day event at the end of this month geared toward roller derby networking and skills training (with a little bit of a party in Vegas).
"It's a huge roller derby convention where you learn things like setting up your organization, training, reffing, scrimmaging," said Crilla. "We're hoping to learn some new skills, new techniques, and network with other teams."
Some of the faces have changed since the team formed, but DVRD now appears stronger than ever, poised to make more of a name for themselves next season.
DVRD's next home bout is against the Desert Dolls September 22.
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