What can one say about the Queen Bee of darts, Brenda Roush? Competitive? She is definitely that. She is also an intelligent, friendly, fun-lovely person that other dart players enjoy being around. Having acquired the nickname Queen Bee from an avatar she used participating in the sewa-darts.comblog/forum, it is certainly a name befitting to her personality, her success, and her standing in darts.
Brenda, who is currently forty-six years of age, found darts approximately twenty years ago while living in St. Louis and is presently ranked at #2 in the United States, as published by the American Darts Organization’s most current listing going into the final quarter for 2010.
Currently residing in Denver, Colorado, where she has been for the past seventeen years, Brenda juggles her darts, league play, and traveling on the national circuit, with her role as Vice President of Development for The Gathering Place, “a drop-in center for women and children who are experiencing homelessness and poverty by providing a safe daytime refuge, and resources for self-sufficiency”.
Leaving her home town of Takoma Park, Maryland, (which borders along Washington DC), when she was seventeen years of age for college in St. Louis, she ended up living nearby to the famed landmark bar and restaurant Blueberry Hill (www.blueberryhill.com), which is home to the Blueberry Hill Dart Tournament held annually every May; and it is also where Brenda begins her adventures into the world of darts. Being the first bar she ever played for, it is her favorite tournament, and she admits it is the only place where she has ever shed tears of extreme joy for a win, giving her the honor of gracing the winners Wall of Famewith her photo. She also says it is actually her proudest moment to date.
After spending eleven years in St. Louis, Brenda decided it was time to move on and began looking to move into the Seattle area, however life had different plans for her, and after the urgings of a friend to look into the Denver area, she decided that this would be where she would go and has been there every since.
Having for years previously thrown with Eric Bristow darts, she now shoots with 23 gram Paul Lim’s, and has one set of Bristow’s left which she uses as backup when necessary. Although it is comforting to have a familiar set of darts in hand, Brenda says that the darts she uses is irrelevant. In 2007 she won her first national’s event with a borrowed set of darts.
Struggling with practicing on her own, Brenda prefers to have a sparring partner, someone to play against for practice, but notes that she does have a set 15 minute warm up routine that she likes to do before play begins. If she knows that she will not be shooting darts on any given day, she will use this routine as her mini practice. Sometimes if she’s tired or frustrated, she’ll just put them down and not worry about it. She once put them down for an entire month, to overcome burnout and to just simply take a psych break.
For her friends and family who know her, and her schedule, it’s quite amazing she practices at all, as she juggles a full range of interests that she fits into her life. Fortunately she has an employer that is extremely supportive, but for her it’s not just about balancing darts (practice, league and tournaments) with her job…. it’s also about spending time with family, as well as her being a part of an improvisational theater community. Having to balance all these pieces can lead to activities bumping up against each other, and she sometimes has had to choose something to back off of for the moment to it all work, but she says that overall she’s found a pretty good balance in all of it.
Attributing her decision to begin traveling for darts to Chuck Spackman, who many years ago encouraged her to play tournaments in the state of Missouri; and then along with her love of travel and curiosity led her to chose to go on to other places. This is a decision she has not regretted and a decision that has led her into developing a family of friends all over the world, and she says, “in addition to the actual dart competitions that tournaments have, they can sometimes also have a family reunion feel to them.”
For her this molding of friends into a traveling family has been the best and most fun part of participating in tournaments, here in the U.S. and abroad, however it’s also the funny moments along the way that can lead to some momentous experiences, such as one of the years in which she attended an event in Youngstown, Ohio. On that Sunday morning she was in the middle of doubles match, came back from the line and saw a horse standing behind the table. There was a charity event going on for an animal rescue organization. Animals were brought in (miniature horses on Sunday). Brenda said, “It was the most surprising thing I have ever seen at a dart tournament.”
At present, Brenda does not have a consistent ladies doubles partner. She had been shooting with Andrea Taylor for a couple of years, but Andrea is not currently traveling as much as she had previously. As for mixed doubles, she enjoys playing with a number of different partners regularly: locally for the Denver area with Dan Moore; and outside of her local area, most frequent partners include a prestigious cast of characters such as Chris White, Chris Helms and Steve Brown.
Respect and admiration for very specific players is something most dart players feel throughout their career, and the same is true for Brenda. In 1993, she met Francis Hoenselaar for the first time, lost the match to her, but says, “she’s just the whole package, carries herself confidently, is very focused, and has sustained a high level of play for many many years. For me, with the U.S. players the person that fits that description is Bill Davis. When he’s in the dart hall he’s there to play darts.”
In speaking about who she has a high respect for in the game also led to who the biggest brick wall in her game is, and for her, that wall comes in the form of Marilyn “ICE” Popp. Brenda goes on to say, “looking through the history of my finishes and who has knocked me out the most often it would have to be Marilyn Popp. Two out of the three times I finished second in the cricket nationals, it’s been to Marilyn. We trade wins back and forth, but whatever it is, I have lost more to Marilyn than any other player, but it has to be noted…. I love playing her.”
Being a very social person, at tournaments you can often find Brenda hanging out, chatting it up with fellow darters between rounds of each event. Occasionally if she’s having a tough time focusing she’ll remove herself from the social aspect, and sit alone, read, or take a walk out of the hall. If she’s encountered a tough match, and/or has experienced a major loss, she’ll also take time out to take a walk and just clear her mind before moving on with the tournament.
In 2010 Brenda participated for the third time in the Winmau Masters in England. Receiving an invitation for her first place finish in 501 Singles at the Colorado Open. Finishing in the top 16 and losing to Julie Gore, the eventual winner from Wales, Brenda said of her experience, “This time around was the most comfortable I felt, and the first time I really felt that I belonged there.” Brenda did also accomplish taking the first two legs that Julie lost up to that point.
As for the overall experience, and addressing the separation between the men and women, Brenda said, “It was a little frustrating having the men and women in different venues. The men and women are all friends, and although the ladies from the U.S. (Andrea Taylor, Cali West, Kim LeDuc and Debbie Ivey, and not to forget Robin Curry from Canada) all supported each other; I would have liked to have been able to support the guys and the youths.” “Also, food on site was very limited on both options and time.” She goes on to say, “I do understand not having the ability to do it all in one place, but I felt the Bridlington venue in 2007 was a better set up, had better space and food available throughout the day.”
Being a person who loves spending time with people who are new to the game, Brenda feels it is important to give back as much as she can. She says that although she’s not good at teaching things such as mechanics, she enjoys bringing in players to both the steel and soft tip games. She says, “I always have lower division players that I spend time with and encourage as well as coaching the players and helping them make the social connection.”
Giving back also includes participating in the Youth events and she had spent a number of years shooting with youth player Darylann Hardwick, who has since grown up and is now nineteen years old. At the time of writing this article, the two will be partnering up for the Las Vegas Open later this month (January 2011). In addition to her participation in the Adult/Youth events, Brenda has been actively involved in raising sponsorship money and has donated her own trophy’s to be recycled and reused by the Denver local youth.
In a world where she has shied away from sponsorships, never actively seeking monies to help her in her traveling dart endeavors so that she could determine when, where, and how often she chose to play, she is rethinking this option going forward, stating that, “I definitely see myself in the game in five years, I’m interested in traveling more internationally, and it’s the first time I’ve thought about seeking sponsorship, simply because I can’t participate at that level without financial help.”
Though always with a smile and a generous hello to those around her, make no mistake that Brenda Roush is a tough aggressive competitor capable of reaching that number one spot, as well as taking on the international world of darts successfully.