Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Summer is winding down and soon the leaves will begin to turn, which means local football teams are preparing for the upcoming season.
But it’s not just the boys that are strapping on pads and banging heads. For the past three years, the Roswell Destroyers women’s football team has been teaching local ladies to play, and succeeding, winning the New Mexico Adult Football League championship in 2016.
Megan Patterson is one of the Destroyers’ captains and is ready to take her squad to the next level as they join the Women’s Football Alliance, a national organization advertised as the top professional tackle football league for women in the country.
With a title under their belts and a tradition of winning, the Destroyers are now looking for more community support.
“When we approached some local businesses a couple years ago, they kind of laughed at us,” Patterson said. “All of our equipment is donated, which is hard on us because most of it is not catered to fit women, especially the helmets and shoulder pads. We very much appreciate those who donated, but with more support, we could buy better, safer equipment.”
The Destroyers have held three open tryouts in recent weeks and have one more planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Cielo Grande. As a member of the WFA’s Division III, the team must have at least 25 players, meaning the small team must expand and bring on some newer, inexperienced players.
“My message to women who haven’t played before is to not be intimidated,” she said. “You don’t need to know how to play. We will teach you. Don’t let your fear hold you back, because women can play this sport and dominate. We want to show everyone that we can be equals to men on the athletic field.”
The Destroyers lost a few players to another recently formed women’s team in town, the Roswell Sugar Zombies roller derby squad, but Patterson said she’s glad there are more opportunities for women to compete and stay in shape without boring jogs on a treadmill.
“I started out on the offensive line and didn’t care for it much, but when I started losing weight, getting faster and more agile, I moved to the defensive line and I love it,” she said. “It’s also a nice hobby for women and a big stress reliever. And of course, it’s a lot of fun.”
Patterson has always been confident — she went out for her middle school team years ago even though she was a bit intimidated — but said others have noticed an even more self-assured person since she began playing football.
“My husband thinks I have more confidence than before,” she said. “Doing anything that you think you’ll be made fun of or bullied for can be intimidating, but once you go out there and do it, you can speak up for other women. It’s very fulfilling.”
Patterson expressed confidence in her team as well, which is still taking form, and her coaches — Bradley Bailey, Rick Melancon and Aaron Werts.
“We love our coaches and they are all back,” she said. “I don’t help coach yet, but I’d like to. Women from the WFA have moved on into NFL coaching positions and we’re very proud of them.”
After wearing mostly blue for the first three seasons, the Destroyers plan to add a lime, or “alien” green accent to their uniforms. The logo features the Zia symbol with an alien head in the center.
The Destroyers want to be a part of Roswell’s community fabric, which means connecting with the public and giving back. After the first tryout of the season a couple weeks ago, the team gave away four backpacks loaded with school supplies to local children.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a truckload of backpacks to give away, but we did find some kids that were very in need,” she said. “We got to meet the kids, give them hugs and just seeing the smiles on their faces was really touching. The younger kids may or may not know the difference between a men’s or women’s team, but they know it came from people in their town that care.”
Papa John’s and Panda Express are on board, helping the Destroyers with a discount night once a month and donating part of the proceeds to the team. Patterson hopes to get other restaurants involved soon.
The season doesn’t start until April, which gives the team plenty of time to practice and get rookies up to speed. When the season arrives, the Destroyers hope to continue playing at DeBremond Stadium. Tickets will likely stay at their past prices of $5 for adults and $3 for kids ages 3-12.
For more info on the Roswell Destroyers, visit roswelldestroyers.com. For more on the WFA, go to wfaprofootball.com.