TT Spotlight: Bonnie Thunders #340

Wheels of Justice announced their new charter last week and there are some new names on that list. You might recognize some of them. Maybe the name Bonnie Thunders rings a bell?

Things to consider. 

  • In 2016 tournament season, Bonnie jammed 100 times across 6 games, an average of 17 jams per game. The average derby game only has 40 total jams.
  • In the 2016 tournament season, she scored 790 points, about 131 per game. She only had 192 points scored against her (48 of which were by Rose).
  • Her points differential for tournament season was an impressive +598, or around +6 per jam. For those of you who don’t speak sports stats, that means that every time she takes the like, she is almost guaranteed multiple scoring passes.

Ok. Now that all that is straight, let’s hear a bit from Bonnie about who she is and what derby is to her.

In your spare time, what do you do for work? I’m one of the owners/operators at Five Stride Skate Shop, along with my partner, OMG WTF. We have two shops, one brand new location in Portland and a second in Brooklyn, NY.

What is the origin of your derby name? My derby name is an ode to the musician Johnny Thunders, most notably of the NY Dolls band from the 70s. 

When did you start skating? I started ice figure skating when I was 6 years old and transitioned from ice skating to derby when I was 22. I have been skating for 27 years and playing derby for 11 years. 

How did you discover derby? In college I competed with a synchronized ice figure skating club so when I graduated and moved to NYC, I was looking to continue skating. A friend of mine invited me to a derby game and we decided to tryout. Derby seemed like a better fit for me since I wasn’t a great figure skater and could also employ my soccer experience in this new sport. I was looking for a new hobby and group of friends in my new city and derby was a perfect combination for me.

Where did you transfer from? Gotham Girls Roller Derby in NYC

Photo Credit: ESPN

Do you have thoughts on transferring to a “rival” team? While Rose City is absolutely Gotham’s biggest rival, I also have many friends on the team and have known the league well for quite some time. It’s a fiercely competitive yet friendly rivalry and I’ve been welcomed with open arms at Rose City. 

Do you have thoughts on other high level transfers this year and how that is changing the landscape of derby? I think it’s really exciting to see teams change and evolve over time, especially because you end up playing against teams year after year so the shake up keeps you on your toes and never allows you to get complacent. I love watching teams build and grow without much turnover but then add one or two high level players to their roster who help put all the pieces together. It’s really important to acknowledge that integrating those players into the fabric of the team is what drives that success. 

Did you play sports before derby? Freestyle ice figure skating, synchronized ice figure skating, and soccer

What do you love about the sport and what have you learned from the sport? What do I love about the sport: First and foremost, I love being on skates, but I especially love the fierce competition with a group of teammates against an opponent. I’m a bit competitive which I’m sure is no surprise to most people. What have I learned from the sport: Derby has taught me more about myself that I ever expected it to. I found derby at a time in my life where I intended on taking a quick break from school before continuing on to a masters and PhD degree. Derby derailed my entire career and taught me the importance of friendship and family. While some days I do struggle with the fact that I have virtually no professional career, derby has taught me that career is not the only important thing in life. Happiness is not always measured in success. 

How do you balance life and being on TT? Maybe not very well considering derby as become my career and my hobby. 

What derby or skating skill did you or do you struggle with the most? Taking risks. I’m a virgo. I like my life organized and planned so taking risks is hard for me. My life decisions have taught me that there is no reward without risk but I always follow up that it must be a calculated risk. 

Why did you move to Portland? OMG and I have been talking about moving to Portland for about five years now. We were looking to start the next chapter of our lives- buy a house, settle down, have a big garden, raise some chickens. Portland is an amazing city that values environmental sustainability, and I’m a tree hugger at heart. Portland also has a pretty good roller derby team so it seemed like the perfect fit for us. 

Favorite thing about Portland? I’m not sure yet but so far I’m really liking that no one tries to run me off the road when I’m on my bike. And all the chickens.

Favorite thing to do outside derby? Night gardening (this is mostly an effect of not having enough time with work and derby practice which means I often find myself gardening at 10pm on a Friday night)

Who was the object of your most embarrassing teenage celebrity obsession? LL Cool J 

3 Things you want to accomplish in 2017? Build a killer garden at my new house, restart my feral cat trap-neuter-return program here in Portland (checkout Thundercats TNR on Facebook), and win games with my new team. 

Advice for any new skaters out there? Live in your skates. If it truly takes 10,000 hours to master a skill we’re going to have to wear our skates 24/7. But there is really no better way to master the skill than to spend as much time as you can in your skates. Skate around the house, to work, walking the dog, doing house chores. Get comfortable in your skates so it feels as natural as walking. 

Check out Bonnie skating with Wheels of Justice on March 24th at the Purple and White bout at the Hangar at Oaks Park!

Learn Bonnie’s sweet jammer moves at the WOJ Winter Bootcamps – Jammer Clinic on March 4th!

Homepage photo credit: Regularman Photography