I have been around for awhile. I have watched roller derby grow up and demand to be recognized. I have worn fishnets. And tutus. And knee highs. And underwear with my name on it. And I have started on the pivot line. My uniform and strategy may have changed significantly over the past 8 years of this sport, but I have taken each new rule change and evolution in stride and embraced it. That is why I love this game that we play- it is always fresh and challenging. One change that is the biggest challenge for me personally is saying goodbye to skaters who have moved or retired. How could someone quit this awesome sport? Or leave our wonderful league? It is hard for me to get my head around that, but it happens. And then we get new faces and teammates that I grow to love and become attached to.
I have seen many skaters come and go and I have a place in my heart for all of them. But there is one skater who I will have a particularly hard time saying goodbye to- the legendary Bettie Kruger. If you know Kruger, you know she has a tough exterior, is a fearless player and is a feared opponent. If you don’t know her, you may not know she has a soft heart and is a truly lovable gal. I know I fell in love with her the very first time I saw her skate and she will always have a special place in my heart.
Every so often, I look through old derby pictures. I tend to always focus on myself in these pictures- my stride, my form, my stance, analyzing how I have changed as a player. Last night, I went through this again and slowly zoomed out, and looked at the big picture. And I realized how many pictures had Kruger in them, realizing that she has truly been a part of almost every great derby memory I have had over the past 8 years. It is pretty overwhelming to think about our teammates like that. We have so many wonderful moments together. I have years filled with the laughter of my teammates, and if you have heard my team laugh, you would know what a glorious sound that is.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to a great teammate, a wonderful friend, and someone I will truly never forget. And I would be remiss if I did not thank Bettie Kruger. I don’t know if she understands how much I have truly appreciated her years of support and guidance on the track. Thank you, Bettie Kruger, not only for your dedication to Tampa Roller Derby and years of service, but for pushing me to be a better player and recognizing in me something I questioned I had.
I wish the best for you. I am proud of you. And your next league is lucky to have you.