Mak­ing his­tory

Derby Dames en­joy­ing sec­ond sea­son, which in­cludes first win­ning bout

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

Veteran and new mem­bers of the 301 Derby Dames roller derby team gained a mod­est re­prieve from the hot, hu­mid con­di­tions for Wed­nes­day evening’s prac­tice at the Charles County Fair­grounds in La Plata, al­though the un­for­giv­ing con­crete floor oc­ca­sion­ally re­minded the jam­mers and block­ers of the sport’s per­ils.

In only their sec­ond sea­son of ex­is­tence, the Derby Dames have al­ready grown in num­bers and ex­pe­ri­ence and after a win­less inau­gu­ral cam­paign the lo­cal squad has al­ready recorded two vic­to­ries this sea­son. But the Derby Dames’ 2-3 record is hardly the fi­nal mea­sur­ing stick of the lo­cal squad’s suc­cess, with veteran and rookie play­ers and their rookie coach ad­her­ing to that be­lief.

“It’s been a great sea­son,” said Kara Ed­wards, known in the rink as “iKar­a­less”. “The new girls have been a great ad­di­tion to the team and ev­ery­one has just fit right in. The wins were great, but even in some of the losses we re­ally grew to­gether as a team. The ca­ma­raderie that we have is just in­cred­i­ble.”

Another re­turn­ing player, Heather Matthews, known as “Just Heather” has dis­played her ver­sa­til­ity in the rink dur­ing bouts and noted she is among the nu­mer­ous skaters who quickly adapt to play­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. Matthews was born and raised in Prince Ge­orge’s County, but she moved to Charles County at a young age and grad­u­ated from La Plata High School.

“One thing that I think sep­a­rates us from the other teams is our ca­ma­raderie,” Matthews said. “It doesn’t mat­ter whether we win or lose, we have a lot of re­spect for one another and our op­po­nents. It’s just like other sports. Once the bout be­gins we’re all fierce com­peti­tors, but once they end we’ll slap each other on the back.”

Last year Ter­rence Gaw­ith vol­un­teered his time as an as­sis­tant coach for the lat­ter half of the sea­son, but this year he is the Derby Dames’ first head coach. Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice, less than a week after the team’s most re­cent bout, a 203-151 loss to Sal­is­bury, was scaled back to al­low play­ers to heal re­cently ac­quired bumps and bruises.

“This team is so fam­ily-ori­ented,” said Gaw­ith, who also does stand-up com­edy. “Even the new girls have such a great vibe. They all want to come in here and be part of the team. We’ve won two bouts and we have also had some moral vic­to­ries. We’ve lost to es­tab­lished leagues by 40 to 50 points, but in those bouts we made a few mis­takes that can be eas­ily fixed.”

Twice each year, Ed­wards and Matthews or­ga­nize boot camps which in­tro­duce new po­ten­tial play­ers to the sport. Ad­mit­tedly, most of the women who try roller derby want to be­come part of the team. Some­times their first eval­u­a­tion of new play­ers needs to be amended as sev­eral adapt to the skills re­quired right away.

Two of the prom­i­nent new play­ers who grad­u­ated through the boot camps are lo­cal prod­ucts and sis­ters, Erin Sum­mers and Kelly Wal­ter, both Lackey High School grad­u­ates. Sum­mers, known as “Blondie” in the rink and Wal­ter, known as “Krazzy Train”, were long­time swim­mers for In­dian Head in the Prince-Mont Swim League who have since traded in their gog­gles for skates, el­bow pads and knee pads.

“Tonight we were on op­po­site teams and matched up against each other,” said Sum­mers, who works as a mas­sage ther­a­pist in Vir­ginia, “but we’re not that com­pet­i­tive with one another nor­mally. We’ve al­ways got­ten along, but I think we both knew from the first boot camp that we wanted to be part of this team. This floor is hard and you don’t bounce. At other rinks at least you bounce.”

“We got in­tro­duced to the league through the boot camps about a year-and-a-half ago,” said Wal­ter, who works in White Plains. “It’s re­ally been great be­ing part of the team. We all have a lot of re­spect for one another. The friend­ships and the team chem­istry is amaz­ing.”

The Derby Dames posted their first win in team his­tory against the Mid-At­lantic Roller Derby (Va.), one which ar­rived short­handed, so many view their nar­row vic­tory over the Black Rose Rollers (Pa.) as their first gen­uine tri­umph.

“They came here and beat us at our place,” Matthews said, “then we went there and beat them. I don’t think we thought it was re­venge. It was just a nice win against a team that we have a lot of re­spect for. We’ve had close bouts with them and good scrim­mages.”

The Derby Dames will travel to Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., for their next bout on Aug. 20 be­fore end­ing the 2016 sea­son by host­ing a team yet to be de­ter­mined on Oct. 8 at the Charles County Fair­grounds. Ed­wards said two teams are in the run­ning to be the Derby Dames fi­nal op­po­nent.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TED BLACK

Left, 301 Derby Dames jam­mer Aubrey Scarza, also known as “Aub Zom­bie” dur­ing bouts, leads her team­mates through another drill in Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice at the Charles County Fair­grounds in La Plata. Right, mem­bers of the 301 Derby Dames take a brief break dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice at the Charles County Fair­groundss to map out their fi­nal drills.

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