At 3:22 p.m., February 20, the world lost Niki Vodraska, a sweet girl who loved drawing, styling hair, and spending time with her friends and family.
She also loved roller derby.
At the Burning River Roller Girls, we knew Niki as Luna Lovewound, #329, one of our newer recruits and a member of the Pyromaniacs. You may remember her as one of the top four finalists in Full-Contact Musical Chairs at our November charity bout, her big debut in the roller derby world.
Her name is a play on the Harry Potter character Luna Lovegood, a kind, light-hearted wizard who always saw the best in others and the world around her. It was a fitting name for a young woman who often skated with a smile on her face, an eagerness to learn and a love for life.
That life was cut far too short when a brain aneurysm took over the 36-year-old during a derby practice Sunday night.
While it could have happened anywhere, at any time, we are comforted to know that Luna’s last memory was of doing something she loved with a group of women who cared deeply for her.
Though she was no longer conscious, first aid responders, medical crews and doctors kept her alive long enough for her family and friends to be able to say goodbye.
The avid artist was a member of the creative team for the Burning River Roller Girls, a group of skaters who volunteer their services to designing programs, signs and more for the league.
Her most recent contribution was a logo for the Pyromaniacs. Her design featured a phoenix coming out of the ashes, a symbol she felt represented the rising athletes on the team and which she said had personal meaning for her. The league is now sharing that design as a tribute to Luna.
Please feel free to share your own memories of Luna or give your condolences to her friends, family and teammates here in the comments.
We will be retiring her number, 329, from the league and will keep you posted on more ways we plan to honor her in our upcoming season.
We love you, Luna. You will be so missed.