Most of us who have known her for many years refer to this 45 year old long time national circuit player as “Doe” and remember her in the early days, as Doreen Sweeny. That would be pre-marriage to hubby Darrell, fourteen years ago. Doreen is a strong, firecracker of a personality, that never hesitates to let her opinions and voice be known when it comes to darts, the organizations, strategies, and well just about anything else about darts that she can think of.
Currently living in Bumpass, Virginia, after recently relocating back to the area from Colorado where she and Darrell had made their home for the past few years, Doreen is best known as hailing from the state of Virginia, however, her original hometown is actually Aston, Pennsylvania.
Her career is in Accounting & Invoice Resolution at Shapiro & Burson, LP, a law firm providing mortgage lenders representation with regard to foreclosures, bankruptcies, evictions, etc., and her employer is fairly flexible on the schedule. “When I relocated back to VA, it was a job transfer, and I was to be working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 13 hour days, however when I got back here they said that they needed someone more full time, so they gave me a computer to work the other days from home. My only obligation while traveling is that I check emails and be available for phone conferences during normal business hours on Fridays and Mondays.”
Shooting a 26gram dart, Doreen readily admits that she has no idea what brand her dart is. For many players it’s a matter of balance, grip, and shape of barrel. A general generic dart meeting basic criteria’s for certain players is all that is needed. First meeting Doe back in the mid-90’s and watching her shoot with simple no-named big brass darts, this interviewer clearly remembers thinking… how the heck does she get those things in the triple.
Doe’s interest in darts originally started during her first marriage. He husband at the time was in Navy, and he and his buddies would play on the board in the family room. When they wanted to play doubles, she’d be recruited in as the fourth person. Doreen said, “It started when I was pregnant with my son Bear, and for two years after he was born, I played with a baby on my hip.” It wasn’t long after that in 1992 while working at Mailbox etc, Peter Rourke a Bud Light League Director/Franchise Owner in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, walked in to drop off information regarding a handicapped dart league (the Bud Light league later became the American Dart Association). Joining a team out of a bar called Cadillac Jacks in Lexington Park, Maryland, this became the first league Doreen would participate in. Doreen had also participated in a Soft tip league at one time, the ADA Express League in Hampton, Virginia, that featured three-man teams, however she stated, “I didn’t really get into the soft tip tournaments.”
Participation in league is one part of darts, deciding to travel to different cities across the country puts you in a whole other mindset, so in asking Doreen what made her take that first step, she quickly gave full credit to “The boys at OCI” (Old Country Inn in Piney Point, Maryland) for leading her in that direction. For those who want to know who those boys are, they consist of Bob Evans, Ray Brown, and Jamie Jordan.
Doreen doesn’t have the luxury of having financial assistance however she continues to participate in at least one tournament a month. She regularly shoots ladies doubles with Niki Carey (another long time circuit player), but as for mixed events she tends to make that one up as she goes along.
Being a consistent name in the game for roughly 15-16 years now, Doreen doesn’t travel as often has she did earlier on in her career, however she did manage to finish 2010 (as per the most recent ADO website numbers) at number 31 in the country. She has held a constant presence in the top 10 national ranking list through the years, with her strongest finish being 4th nationally to end the 2005 year. She continues to practice at least three days a week ranging from four to seven hours on those days, and certainly believes in the statement that “practice makes perfect.” Staying sharp on many levels is the key to her success and she believes in balancing both technical practices (solo), and practicing with fellow players, stating that “both are equally important.”
With all this practice going on, it makes absolute sense that when she speaks about her proudest moment in darts, that she is reminded of the time, “I opened a game of 501 with the first seven darts being perfect”, first handful a 180, second handful a 180, third handful started with the T20, however, while thinking of wanting to shoot the T17, a quick change of mind to the T19 led to a fly dart into a S16. “It wasn’t my nerves that made me miss it was last minute change of mind, and I’m still working on NOT doing that in the future.”
Wanting to know who had impressed Doreen early on and through the years, after some hesitation to think and give this serious consideration, she finally said, “for the men, thinking about this as all round through the years, it would have to be Roger Carter, and on the ladies side that would have to go to Mary Jo Chesney.”
She then discussed who she felt was that one force or wall that she struggles to crack at the line, and she said with full respect and high regard, C.J. Slater (most recent rank on the ADO website for 2010 is #13). Doreen went on to explain that one of two things happen when she’s playing against C.J., “either I take that time to just make a bad strategy decision or she just plain out shoots me in that moment. For some reason, I’ve blown legs against her. I have great respect for her, but I have to really think about my overall strategy when I play her and start to re-adjust.”
Given Doreen’s high passion for the game and her spirited nature, this seemed to be a perfect lead in to talk to Doe about how she handles frustrating matches and losses. She said, “I leave the dart hall immediately. This year I’ve been doing well, and if I feel that redness building, I leave the hall. I’ve learned what’s done is done, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I may go to my room if it’s in between events, but if it’s the last event of the evening, then I go out with friends, maybe have a drink, and just relax, the next morning I’m in the hall two hours early practicing and getting myself mentally prepared on the board.
It’s certainly no secret that Doreen Sweeny-Berry loves winning, as any fan watching her matches through the years can testify to, and she’s not afraid to share this sentiment. When asking her what she felt was the most fun part of darts she gave and good chuckle and responded with one word, “winning”. She does follow this up with the fact that she loves comeback stories and says she herself has had a few comebacks during her career, but what really jazzes her up is watching one of the older generation players like Larry Butler come in, unknown to the newer players, and then he (Larry) smokes them.
Doe continues to see a future in darts and hopefully down the road will have grabbed her first 501 National title, however, she does say that, “right now my job is my priority, however I do have flexibility to travel, so I can still do a couple of events a month, but given the payouts on the ladies side aren’t there, and expenses continue to increase and payouts do not, if we don’t find a next level to the organization, I’ll probably still be where I am now.”
Doreen feels that sharing wisdom with the newer players in the game is important, and urges them to, “listen to the people who have been in the game; watch the professionalism that there seems to be now, and urges everyone to simply stay away from emotionally draining people.” She continues with, “I think the newbies really need to watch, chalk and take it all in.”
On a personal front, Doreen admits, “I am a workaholic, I am a producer (if I’m not productive, I’m not happy).” “I strive to make my family unit a happy healthy family unit. We live in the country, we like living in the country.” She also shares that her priorities now days list her family first; her job second; and her darts a distant third.
Doreen is not just a dart player. She is a Mom, a wife and career woman. Sadly a few years back she lost her son Brian in a tragic accident, he was 22 at the time. Her daughter Crissi is now 26 and has just graduated medical school, her son Joseph aka Bear is 21 and pursuing a career in rap music, and lastly Bobby is 11 and is currently into computer creations using Pivot and Flash programs. On the weekends when not heading off to a tournament Doreen says, “I’m either going to work, or having a family outing, we have breakfast, go grocery shopping, run errands. We like to veg out. We also just bought bikes so the family can bike ride together. In downtime I like to read a book, and we have season passes to Busch Gardens and such.”
It is definitely safe to assume that whether you call her Doreen or Doe, consider her a Sweeny or a Berry, this is one woman who won’t be disappearing from the dart scene anytime soon.
By: Tina Digregorio
All rights reserved. Copying or other use is strictly prohibited without permission in writing from the ADC.