What makes one a leader in this sport? Being an upper belt? Being a beast on the mat? Meh, sure. We should also consider those natural born leaders who see a need and provoke their own call to service. Leadership is not a position…it is your ability to influence. Torrie O’Neil is one such person that answered this call to service.
Torrie is going on three years in her BJJ journey. She is a blue belt out of Grappling Mastery in Mount Dora, FL. In her youth, she was a huge fan of wrestling, which developed her passion for grappling and combat sports.
Torrie is at the helm of Mighty Dames, a group whose inception was based on a blog that she wrote addressing some of the challenges she faced in BJJ while holding a bigger frame. Proper gi sizing, the worry of working with smaller partners, finding women her size for training and having a robust competition pool are just a few of the challenges Torrie and the rest of the Mighty Dames face. Her blog garnered so much attention, opening the door for a lot of discussion. Torrie knew that this topic warranted a bigger space than her blog would afford. The Mighty Dames was just the vehicle for continuing the discussion and creating a movement for women to love themselves as they are.
Torrie’s goal with the Mighty Dames is a simple but not easy one. She wants a support system that provides a platform of positivity and self-love. Too many times, she hears the same excuse, “I’ll start when I lose weight.” She says that it begs the question of why. “What’s wrong with the body you have right now? Nothing”, she exclaims. “Embrace your body and work with what you have! Having a positive self-body image goes such a long way in your overall mental and physical health.”
The positivity and support that the Mighty Dames group has received has caused the number of members to grow exponentially in a span of a few short months. These women are sporting their Mighty Dames gear and engaging in the movement. They are a part of something bigger than themselves. It is wonderful to see women galvanize for the betterment of other women. The community aspect of her group is the most rewarding. Having a diverse group of women with common interests opens the door for friendship and camaraderie. Torrie has a group of energetic women at her gym who help spread the word. Shout out the ladies at Grappling Mastery!!!
Torrie is NOT immune to the very challenges that we all face. She has to work through self-doubt and overthinking just like the rest of us. Her desire to meet and learn from new people drives her willingness to overcome those challenges. Further, Torrie is the wearer of many hats and Mighty Dames is one of the spokes on her awesome wheel. She is a literacy advocate and is involved in multiple local literacy initiatives throughout her community. She is deeply involved in community activities and engages in events and town meetings that increase citizenry involvement. When pressed about how she balances it all, she acknowledges that it is a struggle but her love for these things are what keep her going.
Torrie is a fan of the competition circuit and hopes to increase her opportunity for opponents as women’s BJJ grows. She believes that competition is an important aspect of BJJ development because it will immediately show you your strengths and weaknesses. The anaconda choke aficionado has been working from her back lately. Her size and stature normally dictate that she will play top game but she is working on rounding out her game.
Everything about this chick says growth and empowerment, ladies! Love your strength, your stature, your power and your technique. Embrace everything that makes you uniquely you because no one can do you better than you can!
About the Author:
Girls in Gis staff writer
Sharicka Long-O’Neill, is a blue belt with the Kompound Training Center out of Littleton, CO. She has been a jiu jitsu practitioner since July of 2012. She is a mom and a ten-year veteran of the United States Navy. Her hobbies include fitness, cooking, and traveling with her husband of five years.