Columns Buster Cheatin' by Hale Yeah

Published on June 27th, 2014 | by Hale Yeah


Buster Cheatin' by Hale Yeah

World Cup Retrospective: Team USA’s Buster Cheatin

The 2nd Roller Derby World Cup is being held in Dallas, Texas, this December. To help give everyone a better idea of what this international event is like, we asked World Cup 2011 coaches and skaters to recount their experiences of the inaugural World Cup and extend some advice to those thinking about participating in next year’s effort.

Hale Yeah talked to Buster Cheatin, Manager of Team USA.

Hale Yeah: During tryouts, what were the top skills you looked for most from the skaters?
Buster Cheatin: Versatility was the number one thing we were looking for. So many of the skaters trying out were relied upon primarily as jammers in their home leagues. It was very important for us to see that they could reliably block when called upon to do so. Also, seeing how well people could work together with skaters they were unfamiliar with was important. Some skaters just have a way of making their teammates better. Its an intangible thing but you can sometimes just tell when someone is a good teammate.

HY: Before the tournament, what did you find were the best ways of training so many skaters who were so far away from each other?
BC: The tryouts themselves were one early opportunity for a lot of the skaters to work together, though, since it was still a competition, there was not much emphasis on “gelling” at that time. After that, we were able to get the full team together for a practice and scrimmage the day after the 2011 WFTDA Championships in Denver at RMRG’s practice space. We were also able to practice a bit at the World Cup venue in Toronto prior to playing. Other than that, all the magic had to happen over email. This is why we’ve decided to hold tryouts much earlier for the 2014 team.

HY: How did you get your team to gel so quickly at the tournament? How did you handle any particular rivalries within the team?
BC: As I said, our first practice was the day immediately following the 2011 Championship Tournament so emotions were definitely a little raw. I think the East/West rivalry was really at a peak at that time as well. There were definitely issues. That said, once everyone received their Team USA uniforms and we talked about nothing being more important than those 3 letters on the front of the jersey, the team started to come together. At our first scrimmage, everyone had so much fun playing with and against one another that any animosity was quickly replaced with excitement and pride. When we got to Toronto, the Captains and Co-Captains did an excellent job of bringing the team together through some “mandatory fun.” Through pranks, games and an insane human whirlpool, we all broke boundaries, made connections and became friends. We became a real team.

HY: How did you decide on the strategy for your team?
BC: We had a big meeting with the team prior to playing. I wanted to make sure that there was room for different ideas and strategies but also wanted to make sure that whatever the play, everyone on the track was on the same page. The team’s track leaders had autonomy to dictate strategy before and during each jam with their teammates but also checked in with me at the bench and sometimes mid-jam.

HY: What were your goals for the tournament?
BC: Of course we set out to win and to showcase the immense talent we brought to the track but really, our greater goal and our driving mission has been to be international ambassadors of the sport and to inspire new skaters around the world. I feel like that has been our biggest contribution and is the reason Team USA is so important to me.

HY: Looking back, what was your favorite bout?
BC: There were so many great moments. New Zealand performing their Haka, the tough final against Team Canada, Scotland fighting through the whole bout, our Stars vs. Stripes bout decided by just one point… the whole event was a series of favorite moments.

HY: What advice would you give to skaters training for the 2014 team?
BC: Focus on your fundamentals! Even the most seasoned rink rat can always improve skills as basic as plow stops. Beyond that, strive to be an excellent team player who makes those around you shine as well.

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