Pick Your Team: The Hell Marys

Veteran coaches Dagger Deb and Punk Rock Phil say hell yeah!

Dagger Deb and Punk Rock Phil:
Dagger Deb and Punk Rock Phil: "We always have a developmental plan for all the skaters." (Photo by Richard Whittaker)

When the Hell Marys announced their surprise recruit for the 2011 Texas Rollergirls season, it wasn't a skater. Nope, it was adding the legendary coaching couple of Punk Rock Phil and Dagger Deb to the bench. The winningest duo in TXRG history came by to talk about how the Hells are building their future.

The Score: Everyone thought you'd moved on to pastures new, but you're back out of retirement. What happened?

Punk Rock Phil: We had been gone, and then I was contacted by the Hell Marys. They asked for help, because they were in the situation that they had been in for multiple years: They get a crop of new players, they don't do well, and then they leave, and then they get a crop of new players, and they don't do well, and then they all leave. And with the move to Convention Center, I was more compelled to say, 'We can't let this continue. They need someone to come in and help them from an outside perspective.' With the historical perspective that Dagger and I bring, we can get them on the right track with training and coaching and what that looks like, and what success looks like from that angle. So I dragged her back in, because it doesn't work me solo.

TS: So what is that you bring as a pair that you wouldn't bring separately?

PRP: She's much more organized than I am. I'm much more on-the-fly, get a feel for what's going on. She'll say, 'I have an idea for a drill, but I don't know how to construct it.' But because she's come up with the idea, I can make a drill that re-enforces what she's trying to get at. That's how it works at practice, but on a game basis she's really good at the perception of the emotional player. She knows when someone's coming off and they're having a bad time, and are in they're in their own head. She's able to mitigate that and get them into a more positive space. Whereas I won't recognize that, because I'm a man. If you're on the track, I expect that you're ready to roll.

Dagger Deb: Being a former player, just like he has an outward perspective, I have an inward perspective on the things he's trying to ask of the girls. Like, 'I think that's possible, but let's make a call this way, so they understand the point we're trying to get across." I was a skater, and I knew what it was to win and to lose. When we started with the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, we lost a lot of games, but then after that we had a three year run. Then I went to the Hotrods, and we didn't win our first championship that season, and then after that we won.

TS: The Hells have had a rough couple of years, with a lot of lost players and a lot of lost bouts. How do the 2011 Hell Marys differ from the team of 2010?

PRP: Some of the players have moved on to other teams and some of the players have retired, so we had a core of six players. Then we had the influx of all the new players, all the top draft picks, so that's very exciting. Sinnerfold was quite a sensation in the rec league. Bexcalibur came from Louisiana and skated a whole season with a league there. Notorious D.I.E came from Windy City and skated six months there. Smarty Pants, obviously, coming from the banked track and has an enormous wealth of knowledge. She travels around the country and trains both flat and banked track leagues. So she hasn't played the flat track game, so it definitely doesn't feel like a first season for her. Most of them have had at least some derby experience, so that got us over the initial skills part of the training, and right into the derby part.

TS: Talking about experience, the Hells are already filling up their travel schedule. How important will travel bouts be?

DD: We're immediately traveling. We're traveling right after the round robin. We want the opportunity to skate not only here in Texas, but to travel and see other styles.

PRP: One of the goals for the new players coming in from other leagues is, 'I wanna go to Texas, I wanna learn, I wanna be a Texecutioner within the first month.' For the Hells coming in, what I try to get across is, 'Let's be a great team first so the Texies will want you.' So we always have a developmental plan for all the skaters, based on what they've expressed to us of where they want to go. So we always have it in our mind at all times that this is part of your development path. So last year, with the Honeys, our goal was to have every skater jam, pivot and block, and throughout the season we had the opportunity to get that done. So having all these skaters come into the league who want to be Texecutioners, we need to travel, we need them to know what that experience is like.

Texas Rollergirls season opener, Feb. 20, 5pm (doors 4.30pm.) Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. $12-$15, kids under 12 free. www.texasrollergirls.org.

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Hell Marys, Punk Rock Phil, Dagger Deb, Bexcalibur, Smarty Pants, Center Fold, Notorious D.I.E.

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