October 2011 Featured League: Green Country Roller Girls

October 12, 2011

The Green Country Roller Girls watched every minute of this year’s East and West Region Playoffs in preparation for their first appearance at a WFTDA Big 5 tournament – Show Me Der-B-Q in Kansas City, MO. With a new coach, two big 2011 wins over tough opponents, and a consistent rise through the ranks of the South Central region, they earned their place at the South Central Region Playoffs. This league is not only seriously committed to roller derby, but also to their local community. Read on to learn more about the Green Country Roller Girls…

Photo by Brian Jackson

Tulsa, Oklahoma

How does your season run?
Our season runs February to October, with a charity bout in early December. We usually take time off in November and just after New Year’s Eve. For the past 4 years, we have also bouted on New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma City with Oklahoma City Roller Derby and hope to continue that tradition!

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
Oklahoma City Roller Derby, Oklahoma Victory Dolls, and Northwest Arkansas Roller Derby are all about 1.5 to 2 hours from us. ICT Roller Girls are about 3 hours away, and Dallas Derby Devils, Assassination City Roller Derby, and Kansas City Roller Warriors are all about 5 hours away.

How many skaters/teams do you have?
We have about 35 skaters, including a few Fresh Meat. We have two teams, our All Starz WFTDA charter team and the Thunder Dollz, our rookie team.

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Our league management is set up with a manager, co-manager, secretary and treasurer. This makes up our board, along with all of our committee chairs and our owner. We have a very casual structure with the way we do business and it works just great for us!

How many days a week do you practice?
We have all league practices 3 days a week, but are looking to add 1 day per week to accommodate our Fresh Meat better and allow more time for our other teams to focus on their own training.

Who is Green Country Roller Girls’ biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
Omaha Rollergirls would have to be our biggest rival. We have played them just about every year since 2007 and they have always beaten us. This year, we squeaked by a win at their practice facility in a closed bout.

Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
We would like to give a shout out to the Dallas Derby Devils, for all the training advice and training weekends, judging our tryouts, personal advice, management advice, and general friendships that we have with all those amazing ladies. Green Country would not be where we are today without you all! We love you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

What are the individual challenges of your city?
Currently, we have only been able to bout on Sunday nights in a suburb of Tulsa, so our attendance numbers at our bouts are always kind of small. We pull about 300 to 400 spectators per bout. That will change next season when we move to our new venue in the heart of Tulsa and will bout on Saturday nights.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
As always, our most favorite sponsor is Broken Arrow Roller Sports! Darrin and Heather Johnson, owners, have been so awesome to us in every way possible since we first began in 2006! They are a bit like proud parents when it comes to their derby girls and we love them!

We would also like to thank CB Riley Estates (Christie Morrow and Bobby Riley) for all their awesome and amazing support over 2011! We wouldn't have been able to do everything we did over this last year without everything you did for us. Thank you both so much!

Dr. Michael K. Van Antwerp is our amazing team chiropractor and sports doctor! He keeps us going when we have aches and pains, checks us out when it's more serious and supports us all the way around! WE LOVE YOU, DR. MIKE!

GCRG v Assassination City
Photo by Les Stockton

What are your biggest training challenges?
Our biggest challenge to date has been finding a coach that knew the game of derby, but also knew how to be a coach. We tried several avenues to find one, but being a small league like we are, we can’t afford to pay anyone and getting someone to volunteer that much time is asking a LOT, as most of you know! We found that having a skater do it just didn’t work for our league. Finally, after a few trials and errors, crash and burn, this year, we found someone that believed in us and has led us to where we are today: Robbie Harrington, husband of skater, Bad A. Jenda. He has coached other sports so he has that coaching mentality that we all needed and has been a huge reason why we made it to the playoffs this year! Thank you so much, Robbie for all you have done for us this year, whipping us into shape with those damn bands and pushing us all beyond what we thought we could do! We owe you so much! And thanks to your wife, too, Bad A. Jenda, for making a huge sacrifice, stepping back on her own skating so that Robbie could coach us! We love you both!

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We train at Broken Arrow Roller Sports, a local skating rink in the suburbs of Tulsa. We have also bouted here for the past 4 years. Next year, 2012, we are moving to hold our bouts at the Pavilion at Expo Square, a 4,500 seat facility in the heart of Tulsa.

Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
Our current Manger and Co-Manger, Deadly Iris and Hott Rodd Havoc have done a great job running the league this past year! They are a really great team. Rosie the Wrecker, is awesome at social media and keeps our Facebook page awesome and makes sure our insurance is in order! Dr. Gore, handles all our events and appearances and makes sure everyone meets their requirements! Bounce Her and all the other skaters that help out Street Team and get the word out about our bouts and events! Scarlet Devil, handles all our web site stuff! Brass, our Head Ref for the past 5 years, with 230 bouts on his resume, who is always willing to help surrounding area leagues as guest ref or coordinating training sessions for their refs/NSOs. And last but not least, Elektra Violette, PR, WFTDA rep, Owner, is the glue that holds it all together.

Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
Perkeylicious, for playing clean in every single bout she has ever played in. Most bouts, she maybe gets 1 or 2 penalties in the whole bout! Hott Rodd and Syko Path are crowd favorites because they are so aggressive and hit HARD! Temptress Storm, one of our newest additions, is so agile on her skates, and she is amazing to watch. She will be one of our greats!

We understand that your league has teamed up with Judi Grove of Breast Impressions and TURN TULSA PINK to raise money and awareness for women and children facing cancer. How did this partnership come about and what do you have planned for the month of October? Is it true you are making busts of your skaters to promote the cause?
We have known Judi since we did the first ever Bout Against Breast Cancer and had her cast our boobs in 2008! We have supported her and she has supported us ever since! Judi got the idea to have a full week of events that benefited any cancer charity for women and children and set out on a crusade to get all of Tulsa County to be PINK the week of October 22-29, 2011. There are literally hundreds of businesses on board to have pink lights on their buildings and inside their buildings, too, during that week. We are also asking everyone to wear pink that week. We will be hosting one of the kick off events, our Bout Against Cancer on October 22, 2011, which will benefit Breast Impressions and Oklahoma Family Network at the Tulsa Convention Center in downtown Tulsa versus a team from Dallas Derby Devils. At half time, we will auction our breast casts, which have been painted by various artists. The proceeds from the casts, as well as ticket sales, will be donated to charity. We will have a slide show up of all the casts very soon!

Your league holds open practices every Sunday for new recruits, and allows them to attend the first two practices for free. How did you develop this recruitment method? Do you hold these open practices all year long? What are your aspiring skaters' next steps after attending these practices?
Our Fresh Meat program first came about from looking at other more veteran leagues’ programs and designing something that we felt worked for us. We actually encourage ladies interested in joining to come out to any practice that we are holding to get more information, meet some of the skaters, and see what we do in practice. We have an open door recruiting policy, so we get new girls in year round. We are a small market, so our classes are usually just a few skaters. When ladies decide to join, they must go through a 6-week training period to learn all the basics for skating in roller derby. We allow anyone to do this, even if they do not know how to skate. We teach them how, if need be, and encourage them to work out and skate on their own, too. It normally takes skaters going through the program twice, before they pass their Minimum Skills test. At that point, they are allowed to choose their name and begin skating with the rest of the league doing all the drills that we do. Prior to this, they only work with each other and the people that are assigned to train them. Everyone in our league is required to take a practice to teach the Fresh Meat their skills they need to learn. Once they pass their Minimum Skills, they are required to go through an additional 60 days of training before they are eligible to be on a Thunder Dollz roster. They must play in a min of 4 bouts with the Thunder Dollz before they are eligible to move up to the All Starz.

GCRG v Memphis
Photo by Les Stockton

What are the benefits and challenges of being in the South Central Region?
Some of the challenges definitely are our travel distance between leagues. It makes it difficult to play some teams in our own region. We can’t afford to fly anywhere, so going down to Florida is out of the question unless we can plan way in advance for it and do a lot of fundraising for it. There is also a lack of certified refs in our region, in addition to a lack of game coverage by DNN or other media outlets. A benefit I think, is that we all communicate with each other about these challenges and how we can all overcome them. Another challenge, not just in our region, is getting folks to get our name right!

Green Country has been consistently ranked in the low teens in the South Central Region; holding 12th or 13th up until the first quarter of 2010 when you hit 11th, and then you made the jump to 9th and then 8th in the second quarter of 2011. Overall, this shows a lot of consistency. What has your league done to maintain its ranking? To what do you attribute the recent jump to 8th place in South Central rankings?
Since entering the rankings in 2008, Green Country have been very consistent in our march up the ranks, slowly, but surely...kind of like the tortoise! We would attribute that to a lot of hard work, learning from our mistakes against the teams that we play, watching other upper level teams play, and learning the strategies they use, talking to other derby skaters, coaches and anyone that will helps us out, and bringing in guest skaters and other derby peeps to conduct clinics. We believe our recent move from #11 to #9, then subsequently to #8, all came down to two bouts that we played this year versus Memphis Roller Derby and Omaha Rollergirls. We have played these two teams several times prior to this year and they have always come out on top. This year, we defeated them both.

GCRG v Tampa at South Central Region Playoffs 2011
Photo by Jules Doyle

This year marked the Green Country Roller Girls' first trip to a Regional Playoff tournament, Show Me Der-B-Q, in Kansas City, MO; entering the tournament in 8th place. Congratulations! What does it mean to Green Country to have made your first trip to a WFTDA Big 5 tournament? What did the All Starz do to prepare for Playoffs?
It’s hard to put into words what this means to us. We have been watching the playoffs since 2007, when the Kansas City Roller Warriors won, and have dreamed of one day being good enough to make it. Not sure we ever really thought we would get there. It was kind of surreal to some of us to finally be going. It was so exciting to be there, though! For many of us I would say it was a dream come true, to be sharing the track with some of the most amazing skaters we have watched for years! Truly an honor & privilege!

In preparing for the tournament, we imagine that we did what most other teams did: we checked out video of our first opponent, Gold Coast Derby Grrls, then we tried to figure out what they would do on the floor, and prepared for it. We have all been doing our own training outside of practice also, working on endurance, speed, strength, and agility. We have also been watching the WFTDA’s online streaming video of the other playoffs to see what things we might have encountered, so we would know how to react.

What are your thoughts on how Green Country All Starz performed at Show Me Der-B-Q? Which teams were you most excited to have the opportunity to play against? What has been the best thing about making it to and playing in the Playoffs?

We are very happy with our overall performance during the Playoffs. The first bout against Gold Coast was a tough loss, as a team we didn't feel we played our best derby, and also with Gold Coast being a good team — the combination didn't go well for us. The Tampa Bay bout was about redemption and unity, we believed we could play against any team, and knew if we played hard, played smart and had a few things go our way, we could upset Tampa Bay. The crowd was electric and kept pushing us the entire time. The feelings have not subsided since the final whistles. No Coast is tough, and we were coming off a very physical and emotional win against Tampa. We played as hard as we could, but there was just no more gas left in the tank! The rematch against Gold Coast was something we needed. We needed to validate to ourselves to prove we were better than our first meeting. We were able to correct a few of our mistakes and make some adjustments to their style of play. We are absolutely thrilled to come home with 7th place. The best thing about making it to playoffs and having some success, was proving to ourselves and to others that we can play derby with the best of them. We might not have won them all, but we played hard and we left it all on the floor. We hope derby fans around the world saw the effort and the heart we put into all of our bouts at the playoffs.

Kansas City was the team we were most excited to play against, not having had the opportunity to play against them yet. Playing them would have meant we won our first bout, but that was not meant to be! Gold Coast did awesome!

How did your predictions fair for this year's WFTDA Big 5 Tournament season, particularly at Show Me Der-B-Q?

South Central Region Playoffs were amazing! We predicted it would be Kansas City Roller Warriors, Texas Rollergirls, and Houston Roller Derby in the top 3. We just missed that one, huh?! We love Houston and wish they could have made it, but Nashville is also an amazing team and we are very happy for them. They did awesome at the tournament!

Do you have a special message to your fans?
We would sincerely like to thank all our friends, family and fans, volunteers, refs, NSOs, who have supported us over the years at Broken Arrow Roller Sports. We hope you are all as excited about new things coming in 2012 as we all are!

Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you'd like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact webmaster@wftda.com

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.