Columns Varla Vendetta by Axle Adams

Published on July 5th, 2014 | by Hale Yeah

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Varla Vendetta by Axle Adams

World Cup Retrospective: Team USA’s Varla Vendetta

The 2nd Roller Derby World Cup is being held in Dallas, Texas, this December. To help give everyone a better idea of what this international event is like, we asked World Cup 2011 coaches and skaters to recount their experiences of the inaugural World Cup and extend some advice to those thinking about participating in next year’s effort.

Hale Yeah talked to Varla Vendetta, skater for Team USA.

Hale Yeah: When you were chosen to be on Team USA for 2011, what was your reaction? How did you find out? Who was the first person you told?
Varla Vendetta: Elation. I found out when everyone else did, when Derby Deeds read down the roster of names in August of 2011.
It was the culmination of 7.5 years of derby skating (at the time) and such an enormous honor. When we played at the first Dust Devil tournament in 2006, when we thought 20 cities competing was a huge deal, I never dreamed flat track would be an international sport competing with national teams at a World Cup in Toronto, just five years later. It really put my entire journey in roller derby into perspective. And I was beyond excited to play for the World Cup!

HY:What was the most difficult part of your trip to Toronto? Is there anything you would have done differently if you had to do it again?
VV :I would have packed lighter. But those who travel with me, know that’s impossible.

HY: What was your favorite moment while on-skates at the World Cup? What was your favorite moment when not on-skates?
VV: There were a ton of great memories from Toronto.
Team New Zealand performing the Haka before our game with them.

Getting teary listening to the 13 national anthems being sung as I looked out at each team holding their flag.

Being moved by what a selfless person Urrk’n is both as a teammate on the track and off the track. She gave a bunch of gear to some of the South American skaters who were, at least at the time, struggling to acquire proper gear.

Forming the base of a human pyramid with Slaydie at the top.

Team USA pre-World Cup, pool party bonding.

HY: What are the two best pieces of advice you would give to skaters going out for next year’s World Cup?
VV: ONE: Savor every second. Games and practices go by so quickly. This is such a huge step for our young sport – when you think of all of the people who have built flat track derby from the ground up and all of the athletes training around the world, it’s a humbling and inspiring to be fortunate enough to represent your country.

And TWO, in the words of Walter Payton: Never Die Easy. Work your ass off to be the best that you can possibly be in all facets of your game: skills, head and heart. Whatever challenges come your way in your training, bouts, or tryouts, face it head on, embrace it, and know you put every ounce of yourself into every attempt.

HY: What were your team’s goals and your personal goals for the tournament? How would you expect those goals to change for the next World Cup?
VV: Of course the team’s goal was to win the first World Cup, but to do so by being good ambassadors for our sport and our country, putting forth sportswomanship, talent and determination. The goal of winning the 2014 World Cup will not change for Team USA.

What is changing, and rapidly, is the international playing field. For athletes from some countries that competed in the first World Cup, those games were not only their first international games but their first games ever. For the past two years, there has been an explosion of international play and tournaments, like Track Queens in Europe, that has accelerated the development of teams across the world. Less than two years ago, opportunities to bout or train outside the US were scarce, and far fewer teams were continent-hopping to play.

Team USA flew to Europe to play in Helsinki and London and host a bootcamp. Windy City just got its first opportunity to play internationally in the UK against Berlin and London and also host a bootcamp. London is currently making an impressive statement as are Victoria. Finland and Germany are both holding national Championships within their own countries. Training camps and conventions like Derby Revolution are opening dialogues and spreading knowledge and skills amongst teams and Europe. Any gaps in experience are narrowing and access to competition is sky-rocketing. So much development has happened since the last World Cup and it’s barely been 2 years. I’ve trained skaters in four different countries outside the US since 2011 World Cup and what is brewing abroad is really exciting.

I think overall, with one Cup in the history books, all teams have a leg up in that they have a better idea of what to expect, lessons learned, time to fundraise, and thoughts on new ways to collaborate and gel with skaters so spread out geographically for some countries.

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