Published on August 30th, 2011 | by Varla Vendetta0
Meet Team USA: Varla Vendetta
Windy City Rollers (Chicago, IL)
Derby: 7; I skated as a kid at our local roller rink and rollerbladed when it was cool in the early 90s
DL: What was your previous athletic background, if any?
VV: I grew up riding horses and also did some ballet/tap when I was really young – all of which kept me very flexible. In high school and college I ran a lot, rollerbladed, lifted, and did yoga. I was athletic, but didn’t do many team sports outside of gym class. I did try to play football with my brother when he’d let me.
DL: Why did you want to be on Team USA?
VV: I had the great fortune of stumbling into flat track roller derby relatively early on which has allowed me to walk through a lot of our history. Before there was WFTDA, all the leagues convened in Chicago for the first national meeting of the minds. My team was able to attend the first multi-league tournament, the Dust Devil in 2006. I witnessed the first RollerCon.
If even briefly, we were able to be a part of the first Nationals and then every one since. I recall signing onto DNN for the very first time in its early incarnation. The rate at which flat track derby has organized and evolved consistently blows my mind. From maybe 20-some leagues having a budget sufficient to send a team to Arizona to 13 countries holding tryouts to field a team for a World Cup?! That is just staggering and makes me proud of what our small (well, ever growing) community has been able to create together – fueled by minimal funds and an abundance of passion.
I know that derby careers are just a sliver of time in our lives. I was set on working hard to make the most out of every memory and every second I’ve been lucky enough to experience it. I want to tackle every challenge I can within derby as long as I’m able to play. When I heard about World Cup, I knew that was going to be a tough but rewarding challenge.
DL: How did you feel when you found out you had made it?
VV: It floored me. I was so honored. I also received incredible support from my teammates, leaguemates, family, friends, my work, and my derby wife for making the team. That encouragement meant a ton. Literally, years of practice are culminating in this piece of history for a sport that we’ve all molded and that is totally humbling and exciting.
DL: Which skater inspires you most, and why?
VV: Ugh, there’s no way to narrow it down to one! There are so many flat track skaters that I respect for different qualities – whether it’s skill or work ethic or just their composition on the track. I remember seeing the Tamaccio sisters’ leg whip at the very first Dust Devil in ’06, and it blew my mind…as did everything they did in the wake of their blonde ponytails. I think Racer McChaser was one of the first speed skaters that I saw jam and she made it look graceful and effortless.
Of course there are skaters like Tannibal, Atomatrix, and Bonnie Thunders who just amaze me with their technical prowess and athletic gifts within this sport. I think they set the bar higher for everyone who plays this game and that’s been such a boost for the sport as a whole. Joy Collision is pure excitement to watch with her speed and accuracy. I always know she’s going to do something that makes me ooh or ahh.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Roxy Rockett who brought me into the FSOP team and gave me the opportunity to play with many of the aforementioned skaters and is an outstanding skater. I’m amazed by some of the things Psycho Babble and DeRanged can execute on skates. The women with whom I’ve skated on in the WCR inspire me.
Athena DeCrime is my derby wife and has been alongside me in Windy City since day one. I would not have survived the emotional times that accompany this sport without her inspired wisdom and inspiring work ethic.
DL: Do you have any advice for skaters just starting out?
VV: Skate as much as you can, especially if you didn’t grow up in a rink or speedskating. I think the more comfortable I felt in my skates, the easier it became to concentrate on the strategy of derby. Go to jam skates, go to every practice, skate outside. Find the fastest, meanest, hardest hitters on your league and test yourself against them as often as possible. As the great Walter Payton said, “Never Die Easy.” Finally, crosstrain and lift. Build up your hamstrings, core, hip flexors, shoulders, etc. so your skating is more solid and you are less injury-prone.
To support Team USA, you can make a contribution to their travel fund at Traveler’s Joy.