The Denver Roller Dolls roller derby league expanded this week with the addition of a new local squad, bringing the home team total to five: the Orange Crushers will be joining DRD's Bad Apples, Green Barrettes, Shotgun Betties, and Electrocuties (the 2012 DRD Home Team champions) for the 2013 season. But the ongoing explosion of growth in the Denver derby scene isn't the only news here: sports fans will also notice the tribute to a certain other Denver team when the Orange Crushers debut at the March 23 season opener at the1STBANK Center
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"We have a lot of Broncos fans in our midst and wanted to pick a name and colors to reflect our Colorado roots," says DRD spokeswoman Lexie White. "The name is a tribute to the old Broncos defense, and everybody was really excited about it. We can't wait to see what the new uniforms look like when we get them."
The Orange Crushers adapted the name from the Denver Broncos' famed 3-4 "Orange Crush" defensive alignment circa 1977, when Denver Post sportswriter Woody Paige coined the nickname. The "C" in the Orange Crushers logo doubles as a flat track derby ring, with its separate starting lines for the skaters in the pack and the point-scoring jammers.
While the Orange Crushers will be the first Denver derby team to don orange and blue uniforms, the nod to the local NFL squad isn't unprecedented: Pittsburgh's Steel City Roller Derby teams, for example, adhere to the same black and gold color convention as the Pittsburgh Steelers (and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins, and every other professional sports team in Pittsburgh).
"We definitely think there's some correlation there," White says. "Football's a full-contact sport and so is roller derby. If you like one, chances are you'll like the other."
The DRD home teams compete against each other and against home teams from other local leagues in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, including the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (Denver), Slaughterhouse Derby Girls (Greeley), Castle Rock 'n' Rollers (Castle Rock), Choice City Rebels (Fort Collins), FoCo Girls Gone Derby (Fort Collins), Pikes Peak Derby Dames (Colorado Springs), and Pueblo Derby Devil Dollz (Pueblo).
Skaters on each of the DRD home teams are also eligible for competitive spots on the traveling all-star teams Mile High Club (ranked third overall in the WFTDA in 2012) and Bruising Altitude.
White says longtime fans of the Denver Roller Dolls will recognize some names and faces when the Orange Crushers are formally introduced next month: the league "re-drafted" all of its teams to accommodate the expansion. Jessica Rivas and Whizbang Weasely are co-captains of the new team, which also features skaters Atomic Fire, Betty White Knuckles, Jukestapose, Karen Yerassup, Krys Kross, Lethal Llama, Malice N Wonderland, Madge Mayhem, Shebe Dangerous, Taraflying, and TexMex Takeout.
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The Orange Crushers will skate against the Shotgun Betties at the season opener on March 23, and the Bad Apples will skate against the Electrocuties. Tickets are $17 in advance or $22 day-of-bout. Kids 12 and under are free, as is parking at 1STBANK Center.