Name: Anja Patellas
Teams: Sea Sirens, Switchblade Sisters
How did you choose your derby name? I thought it was funny. I was going to school for nursing, so it was medical and I actually had some pretty bad knee injuries when I first got into derby. It seemed fitting.
When did you start playing roller derby? I tried out for Detroit in 2009, but barely missed the cut. I planned to try out again soon after until I tore my ACL practicing in my driveway. So I started with a league in 2010.
Tell us about your rookie year, how you found roller derby and how you learned how to play? My best friend joined a league in Buffalo and I thought it would be super fun. I got skates for Christmas and started skating at my local rink in 2009. After I tried out for Detroit that year and was recovering from my ACL surgery, a new league started near me. It was a lot closer, so I went there in January 2010. We were a new league and we didn't have the benefit of a lot of veteran skaters. We did have a lot of tenacious skaters and a coach that put in a lot of work to get us skating.
Do you have a spirit animal? I had trouble deciding, and my daughter suggested a crow, because I'm smart and I pick at things until they are accomplished. I don't even know what to say...
Worst derby injury? I guess my torn ACL was the worst. I was practicing in my driveway and Mean Bean rode in front of me with a tricycle. To avoid her, I hurt myself.
What have been your favorite skate brands/products? I skate with Bont boots with an Arius plate. I'm pretty happy with this set up!
What did you think about as you laced up your skates? I think about how glad I am to be skating. I remind myself that no matter how frustrated I get when I can't perform a skill or I feel like I am letting someone down because I can't accomplish the goal for that line, that we do this for fun. Someday we won't be skating, so I try to live in the moment and have fun.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote? You are either learning or succeeding.
Do you have a pre-derby/sports background? My parents bribed me to not play sports. I was interested, but I guess the logistics were too much with a family of 5 kids. I did get to play softball in high school and when I was in second grade. But that's pretty much it.
What are some of your greatest on-the-track accomplishments? Every time I get out there and succeed or even try something I couldn't do before, it's my greatest accomplishment.
Off-the-track derby accomplishments? I set out to lose 80# to help me play derby better. I almost quit 2 years ago. I thought I was getting too old. My knees were bothering me and I had some autoimmune issues that seemed to be getting worse. I had just bought a brand new pair of skates and I thought I would give one last real push of an effort to make this work because I love playing so much, and I changed my life.
Who are your derby heroes? I really don't follow who is who in derby. So my derby heroes are the people that have kept me moving forward. Some are from Michigan and some are from here in Florida. Too many names to mention. My biggest hero is my super amazing husband, who has never been anything but a cheerleader for me in derby. And I can't forget all of Tampa Roller Derby. I'm really lucky to learn from these people. Really, super-duper lucky.
What is your day job? Has it contributed to your roller derby experience? If so, how? I'm an RN, and a SAHM currently. Both of these jobs really help me with keeping my cool and having patience with myself and with other people when things get frustrating.
Has roller derby affected the way you live your outside life? I am more likely to speak up when I see a problem. My confidence has increased. When you play derby, you really can only focus on derby. When I'm having a bad day, I know that I get a couple hours where I can focus on me and not the stuff that might be bothering me.
Tell us about your favorite derby moments: I had a friend from Michigan who I skated with in a 2 day mixed scrimmage type tournament years ago. We have been FB friends since then, and I was excited to run into her at RollerCon last year. She was so excited to see me and said that skating with me at that event really impacted her in a positive way. That I was one of her derby heroes. That was super cool.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about joining roller derby? Derby has been a life-changing event for me. I thought it would be fun exercise in a group, and it is. But it's so much more. You need to hold yourself accountable for your own learning/actions, but we have all the tools you need to succeed and people who will cheer you on as you do it. Derby offers other experiences also. There are business, creative, technical and leadership aspects to being part of a league that most people don't even realize. You can learn something new or give using the skills you already have! If you are a strong, confident human or want to be, this is the place for you. Whether choose to skate or not! Derby won't save you, but it can give you the tools to save yourself!