Arizona Derby Dames Get Down, Dirty, and Back Up Again

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These chicks are the definition of badass. Bruises and sweat are common occurrences for the women of the Arizona Derby Dames roller derby league. The league was founded in 2004 and continues to be a tough women’s haven to this day. They pride themselves on the danger of injury and the wounds that they do get during their vicious, bloody bouts. With this year being the tenth anniversary of the league, the ladies are busier than ever and embracing every second.

Dolly Spartan and Rowdy Roulette of the Bombshells roller derby team spoke with College Times about what it takes to make it on a team, the worst injuries they can remember and what they’ve given up to give the derby their all.

College Times: How long have you been a part of the AZDD league?

Rowdy Roulette: From the very beginning, I’ve been a part of the league since before the first bout. I’m the only one left! I love to play it, I love working with the girls that come in. I love the sport.

Dolly Spartan: I’ve been a part of the league for two years now.

What led you to choose Roller Derby over other sports?

RR: Roller derby kind of found me. A friend had told me that this league was starting up and I got interested. I wasn’t out looking for it. One day I got the message and that was it.

DS: I’ve had friends that are in it and it’s just a ton of fun. When I first started I realized it’s pretty demanding, and I would go watch the games and it looked so fun. I just didn’t [have the]dedication for it. As soon as I had the time for it I tried out and loved it ever since.

What type of girl does it take to make it in the league?

RR: People with strong minds, definitely. Someone with a strong heart. It’s a very taxing sport because of it being full-contact, but you end up being friends with the girl that nailed you on the track. Somebody is going to rough you up one minute and the next minute you’re going to be laughing with them. You can’t really take things too personally.

DS: I think anybody can do it. You just have to have a lot of dedication.

What sacrifices do you have to make to be a part of the league?

RR: Time commitment is number one. People come in and they start, but then they quickly find out how much time we put into it. Roller derby is something that is here because we do all of the work. We don’t get paid to play.

DS: Time, work, family. It just kind of takes over! You need the time to do it, but it’s all worth it.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself while being in the league?

RR: My overall personal strength and willpower. It’s definitely taxing on the mind and body. I’ve had breaks and surgery. My will to keep playing is pretty strong.

DS: Probably how strong I am mentally and how much I like to be a part of a team.

Would you recommend this sport to someone?

RR: I would recommend this sport to every single person I meet. Not everyone that is a part of roller derby skates and plays. We have people that referee our games, and if we didn’t have our refs, it wouldn’t be possible. We have photographers, volunteers, and it is completely open to the community. It’s really a place where anyone can come and be themselves.

DS: Definitely. All the girls in the league are super, super nice and everybody gets along. You’re a part of a team. When you’re playing the game everybody wants to be hard, but when it comes down to it, everyone is sisters in the league. Everyone is there for the other person.

What advice would you give to a person who’s interested in joining?

RR: Be willing to work and to know that you’re going to fall and you have to get back up. That’s part of the game. We fall down and we get up and we learn from it.

DS: Don’t give up. I think a lot of people give up. The “Fresh Meat”[training team]usually starts with about 50 girls and by the end of it there’s maybe six left.

What was your favorite bout? Why?

RR: My favorite bout is the bout we just played Saturday night. It was our season opener, it was a more than sold out house, and our team went into the game playing against the team that went to championship last year. We knew that it was going to be really tough. We had girls get ejected but our team stayed remarkably strong. We pulled together and embodied what a team is.

What teams have the biggest rivalry?

RR: Some of my closest friends skate for the Runaway Brides,and I feel like when we play that team, it’s like all-out. It’s a fun game. It’s never necessarily a dirty game, but it’s an aggressive game.

What was your gnarliest injury?

RR: On May 18, 2011 I suffered [a]trimalleolar fracture, which means I literally shattered the bones in my ankle. It was three weeks before a national tournament and I didn’t get to play. It was pretty tough. They told me five to six months before I could be back on skates but I was back on my skates in 12 weeks.

DS: I didn’t break anything, thank God. I fell on a nail and also fell really hard. The nail went in my butt, so I have like an indention in my butt forever. I was bruised for months and it’s still there. One of the girls [in the AZDD]is a doctor and she said the fat was damaged so it’s forever going to be this hole in my butt.

Are there ever really dirty games?

RR: Yeah, there are. Saturday night’s game was pretty dirty. Whether it’s some of the actions that take place when the refs aren’t looking, or maybe the shit-talking that happens when the girls are lining up to take off, it gets nasty out there sometimes. I think it’s part of any full-contact sport. If somebody’s going to elbow me or trip me intentionally, I’ll be waiting in the wings and I’m going to get them back.

Keep up to date with the Derby Dames and find the league’s schedules at arizonaderbydames.com

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