August 2010 Featured Skater: Bonnie Thunders

August 1, 2010

As a blocker, when you hear "Bonnie Thunders" being called as the opposing jammer hitting the line; you get a little nervous. Of course you'd be just as nervous when she sets up next to you in the pack as an opposing blocker. Learn more about this 2008 WFTDA Championship MVP and skate shop owner here...

Photo by Joe Rollerfan

Name: Bonnie Thunders
Number: 340
League: Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Home Team: Bronx Gridlock

What is your (roller derby) position of choice?
Jammer, of course

What is your skate gear of choice?
Riedell 595 boots with custom mounted Powerdyne Reactor plates, Bones Swiss Bearings, Radar Blue Zodiac wheels, 187 Gel Knee Pads (why did they have to discontinue these?!?), and a Triple 8 helmet.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
Vitamin B12 drops just before the bout starts.

What are some of your best/favorite moments in roller derby?
Beating Texas at ECE in June 2008. That was only their 4th loss ever and their biggest loss at that time. I remember looking up at half time and wondering if they had swapped our scores. Of course that was also where the Slayride was first debuted – how could it get any better?

Who are your roller derby heroes?
My all time favorites are Cheapskate, former TXRD and GGRD skater, because she could play every position spectacularly and was a huge inspiration as I was developing in my second year of derby; and Sparkle Plenty, former TXRG skater, who is just an amazing derby godmother who I have exceptional respect for on and off the track.

Do you have a motivational quote?
"You can do anything for two minutes."Kandy Kakes

What goes through your brain as you lace up your skates?
I mostly focus on clearing my head to make sure my laces are tied perfectly tight.

Do you have a signature move?
People say it looks like I’m in the matrix when I skate through the pack.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in roller derby?
Roller derby is the best community I have ever been a part of. I highly recommend it!

What’s it like to be the captain of one of the top WFTDA leagues internationally?
It’s invigorating to lead a team of some of the hardest working ladies I’ve ever met but always a challenge to defeat the latest and greatest strategies, or better yet discover them as we work through practice. My biggest challenge is keeping Fisti Cuffs away from shiny things such as jewelry or antique treasures.

Oh Bonnie, when you’re jamming, you bounce off blockers like rubber, and when you’re blocking, you hit like a freight train! What’s the secret to your derby success? Was it the synchronized figure skating experience that helped you along the way?
In synchro, if you fall out of formation but get back in within 10 seconds, no points are deducted. I always keep that at the back of my mind. More importantly are the edges in ice skating. They are more precise and smaller so it’s much easier to use my edges in roller skating. I do think edges are incredibly important in roller derby. I’m also double jointed which helps me maneuver through tight holes!

Photo by Joe Rollerfan

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Like a cheetah – quick and daring, yet graceful.

What’s your current record for the most points you scored in one bout, and how did you feel after that accomplishment?
88 points. Last year in our league championships my team, the Bronx Gridlock, came back from a 42-point halftime deficit to defeat the Manhattan Mayhem, 116-105. We only had 10 skaters in that game so I was jamming every other jam. I was so proud of my defense because they shut down the opposing jammers and let me whiz around the track to an 88 point record.

So, you now own a skate shop. Tell us all about how you live and breathe derby in both your personal and professional life?
When I find something I love, I dedicate myself to it – so what better way than by opening a skate shop! I opened Five Stride Skate Shop with the help of OMG WTF. We both have a passion for getting people in equipment that fits them properly and is right for their skating style (and budget). As a figure skater I was very knowledgeable about equipment so when I started playing derby the only thing I was familiar with was the Riedell brand – I had worn their artistic boots since I was 7 years old. I made it a point to learn as much as I could about derby equipment and after four years of derby I finally felt knowledgeable enough to open a shop.

What was it like for you to be a part of the 2008 WFTDA Championship winning team from Gotham, AND to be named tournament MVP?
It was surreal, especially after winning by such large margins. The games felt almost robotic. I think winning MVP gave me a vote of confidence that I could really excel at the sport. I loved roller derby before that tournament but when I went back to NY it changed for me – I took roller derby more seriously, trained harder, and stepped up my game.

Looks like Gotham is taking a trip to the Northwest in August 2010 for a triple header weekend. Who are you playing?
We’ll be playing B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls, Rat City Rollergirls, and Rose City Rollers.

Any big expectations for this trip?
I’m hoping for the same outcome as when we played in Portland in 2008 – three big wins!

What do you like the best/least about derby travel?
I like staying at hotels but I always hate the flight home because it means I have to go back to my real life responsibilities.

Any travel advice for other skaters?
Make sure you eat well while on the road. When traveling I always stay at an efficiency so I can cook my own food. Also, never put your skates in your checked luggage!!!

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments?
Besides winning games and awards, I’ve been really proud of working with the WFTDA Tournaments Committee. Although it's been a challenge to work in an all volunteer organization, it's amazing what a group of dedicated and passionate people can accomplish together.

Anyone you'd like to take the opportunity to thank?
Oh, I have lots of thank yous but most importantly I want to thank my team for always pushing me to work hard and working hard themselves so that we all can improve.

Would you like to be the WFTDA Featured Skater of the month (or nominate one of your fantastic teammates)? If you are an active skater on a WFTDA full member league that has a dazzling derby career, please contact and let us know what makes you shine.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.