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Making PE “Stack Up” to a Peak Experience

Timber Trail Elementary sport stacking club members, the Howling Stackers, meet Mondays after school to practice speed relays, duos and have fun using the jumbo cups for fun relay games and cooperative building tasks.

Marina Bonello is an active person who relishes exercise and movement. Highly educated, “Dr. B,” as she is known to her students, is the new PE teacher at Timber Trail Elementary (TTE).

Originally from Malta, the island south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, Bonello was named appropriately (Marina means “by the sea”). She spent her summers fishing, snorkeling and walking by the sea shores or riding bikes and playing soccer with the neighborhood kids.

Inspired by her successful mother and grandmother, Bonello initially pursued a path in marine biology, ultimately realizing she did not want be confined to a microscope.

In 1991, Bonello attended the University of Malta, followed by a semester at the University of Utah. She returned to Malta to finish her teaching degree then taught for seven years before pursuing her master’s degree in 2003 from Virginia Tech, followed by her PhD from the University of Maryland in 2009.

Bonello received a faculty position at Manhattanville College in New York City to work as an assistant professor teaching classes as part of an evening master’s program in PE while also earning an undergraduate degree in health education.  Bonello’s mantra is “commitment to making PE a peak experience for kids.”

“I want kids coming to my class to love moving,” said Bonello. “I want them to experience joy through movement, whether it is running, traveling through an obstacle course, learning to share equipment with others, developing leadership skills and confidence, stacking cups, or playing games.”

Marina Bonello and her husband, Larry Goers, modeling oversized stacking cups on their wedding day, paying homage to the sport that brought them together as husband and wife.

During her college years, Bonello became interested in sport stacking (also called speed stacking), a competition where an individual or team stacks 9-12 specially designed cups in predetermined sequences as fast as they can. Stackers race against the clock, compete in relays and often combine sport stacking with fitness challenges as part of PE classes. Sport stacking is like a track meet for your hands and has more than 600,000 registered players worldwide.

“I began attending speed stack workshops because I was fascinated that so much could be done with plastic cups,” said Bonello. She partnered with Bob Fox, founder of Speed Stacks Inc. (and former Castle Pines resident), to become a representative for his company that promotes the sport.

It was through Fox that Bonello met her husband, Larry Goers, CEO of Speed Stacks and Director of the World Sport Stacking Association. The couple first connected over the phone and email, as Goers was helping Bonello with her international license to organize school tournaments.

At the world championship tournament held in Germany in 2016, Bonello met Goers in person, and Cupid sealed the deal. The couple married in July 2017. When not stacking, the couple enjoys an active life together camping, cycling, cooking, and hiking the coastline or snorkeling when visiting Malta.

Today, Bonello has carried her passion for speed stacking to TTE forming a school club, “Stack with Dr. B.” She will also be organizing a team to compete in the Colorado state-level tournaments in March 2023.

By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy Marina Bonello



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