It’s been a little more than two months since the South Side Derby Dolls lost their teammate Louisa Kalimeris, known by her derby name as Hack Kerowhack, due to complications related to asthma. I never met Louisa, but I knew her as the founder of the Roller Derby Compendium for Freshies Worldwide, a Facebook group members more than 4,000 strong, dedicated to helping derby’s “fresh meat” find their way. I have regularly read – and continue to read -- the questions and advice in the Compendium, as I slowly fight my way through my league’s “meat grinder.”
Louisa herself was “Raw Meat” and, in her own words, “still almost a total beginner” after a year of skating. Yet, she was not only the group’s leader, but also a cheerleader for those who were having an off day or frustrated that they felt they were falling behind. It is no wonder then that Louisa has since been dubbed “The Patron Saint of Fresh Meat.”
As others before me have pointed out: the legacy of roller derby lies in the next generation of skaters. There are few legends in this sport, and not many names will survive the ages, but skaters can make a lasting impression by how they treat those that will follow them. It is important that we treat Fresh Meat with respect and reciprocate their commitment by investing in them, irrespective of their skill level. I have seen a struggling skater who displayed such fierce determination that she left me with no room to question the future of her success in roller derby. Personally, I feel fortunate to be a part of Southern Maryland Roller Derby, a league that has celebrated my hard work and small victories and never made me feel like less than a full member because I’m not yet ready to bout.
Tonight, my league begins its next round of Fresh Meat Boot Camp. I am excited to meet the skaters, teach them those skills that I’ve mastered, and also to learn from them. The girl quaking in her skates could be the next Suzy Hotrod. Or, a year from now she may be still almost a total beginner, inspiring other fresh meat as the next Hack Kerowhack...and wouldn’t that be something?
This article is a contribution by Amber McDonald. Amber is a guest blogger for SISU guard. A talented writer and a legal professional, Amber skates for the Southern Maryland Roller Derby.