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Published on August 30th, 2011 | by DerbyLife


Meet Team USA: Bonnie D. Stroir

Bonnie D. Stroir

League Affiliation
LA Derby Dolls, San Diego Derby Dolls, currently “retired” and living in NorCal

Number of years involved in derby
Since October 2003

DL: What roles have you played in derby, other than Team USA coach?

BC: Man, a lot of them! Skater, League Founder/Boss Lady, Committee Member, “That chick from the Youtube videos,” International Traveling Coach, “Blogger…” Even moonlighted as a ref and announcer here and there… I get around.

DL: Why did you want to coach Team USA?
I’m just as passionate about coaching right now as I’d been about being a skater for the last 7+ years! And all about elevating our little underground-contact-sports-scene to its highest potential as a professional sport. So I’m always gonna want to be a part of every innovative, new idea that supports this dream.

When choosing between applying for Coaching Staff, or trying out as a skater, I ultimately decided my enthusiasm would be put to greater use as a Coach. And it’s been really gratifying so far!

DL: What was the hardest thing about selecting the team?
The hardest part was not being able to take every skater that’s amazing and give them a jersey like we we wanted to. There’s a lot of skaters at the high levels right now, and the difference between making the team and not making it was coming down to some pretty goddamn specific skills and abilities.

At the risk of abandoning all professionalism, I’m just gonna be honest: That part really sucked. We ended up scheduling way more Skype meetings than planned, hashing and rehashing. In the end, we feel good about the choices. But it was still hard to tell people, “You’re totally amazing, and everybody knows it, but right now that’s not enough.”

DL: What was the most fun thing about selecting the team?
Hands down, the most fun part was seeing new talent and innovative moves being performed in Tampa.

There were some skaters who didn’t make the team because they didn’t know the game just yet, but had SO MANY impressive moves! Next year’s roller derby is going to have this crazy new generation of skaters that have been taking everything our greats are doing right now and evolving it. To see the seeds of that, it felt like I was witnessing something really special.

DL: What is the biggest challenge facing Team USA in connection with the World Cup?
I think our biggest challenge is the same as every other country’s and that’s getting everyone in one place to practice! You want to get together and hang out and develop that chemistry that a team needs to perform as a unit, but…. everyone’s so all over the map!

DL: What qualities make a skater great?
Diversity, versatility, and an overall appreciation for teamwork. It’s not enough to know how to jam, can you block? It’s cool if you can go fast, but can you change your speed at will? Explosiveness, control over your game brain, a heavy off-skates fitness regime…It takes a lot to be at the top right now!

DL: Which skater do you most admire?
Totally impossible to answer!

Everyone on the team, including the Alternates, have a piece of my heart for what they bring to the table. I’m a serious student of the game, so even the slightest skill that makes a skater unique stands out like a shiny light to me. I get really excited over stuff like that. And everyone at this level has much more than talent, they have an INSANE work ethic, too.

You have to. So each skater on the team (and many who didn’t make it) really inspire the hell out of me!

DL: Which coach or manager do you most admire, from any sport?
You know, originally it was Sonny from back in the day TXRG. I remember seeing him at Dust Devil 2006 and being like, “Now THAT’S a coach!” and at the end of the Bumber Bout Tournament in Seattle, many years ago; when everyone in the audience was rushing all the skaters to geek out on them, I went straight to him for advice on being a coach!

These days I really take my inspiration for coaching from MMA coaches. I watch The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV and observe which athlete-turned-coach has the most effective outlook and ethic, and try to emulated them as best I can. Antonio Nogueira was one of my favorites.

DL: What are your favorite non-derby sports to play or to watch?
Mixed Martial Arts, all the way!

I love UFC fights, and the backgrounds on the crazy work ethics of the fighters and their coaches. There’s so many parallels between their sport and ours, including the sport’s fight for legitimacy; and the mental strength, versatility required of the athletes to stay at top level. I love it all.

DL: Do you have any advice for skaters just starting out?
Yeah, just be in love with the sport and everything will fall into place over time.

My biggest challenge as a young skater was all self-induced pressure to perform. As a perfectionist, I really inhibited my learning ability with inflated expectations of perfection from myself. If you can recognize success where it is (being better today than you were yesterday) and just embrace your progress, it adds a certain ironic effortlessness to the process that makes it all much more enjoyable.

DL: Do you have any advice for coaches just starting out?
Man, loaded question!

Coaches need to remember that you’re not just coaching a sport, you’re inspiring a group of alpha women to elevate to their highest potential. And that takes a lot of juice! But…inspired alpha women are pretty much the most incredible creatures on the planet, so bringing out the best in them is like giving the world a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come.

That’s what drives me. But if you want some more concrete advice it would be: stay open-minded.

Today’s strategy will be yesterday’s soon enough, so don’t be too rigid in your thinking. And remember that you’re not there to dominate these women, you’re there to lead. So if you have tough in one hand, make sure you’re bringing love in the other. High expectations, coupled with with lots and lots of praise for every progress will keep everyone, including you, striving towards your goals and enjoying the process together.

Not that I always knew all that, but…you know…Living and learning every day!

To support Team USA, you can make a contribution to their travel fund at Traveler’s Joy.

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