There will be a memorial service Saturday 14 November 2009 at the Doug Fir from 2-4 p.m.
Please visit the Rose City Rollers site for more information, to view a slide show, and to sign the guest book.
The Rose City Rollers community suffered a tremendous loss this past weekend with the death of skater Bunny Lepowski (Becky Verhey). Most of the current GnRs at the very least skated against her in league play, and many of the current and former GnRs are among those who tried out for the league and then practiced with her as part of the large "Fresh Meat" group in 2006. Of course, new GnR Mercyful Kate was a High Roller through the end of the 2009 season, so she and Bunny skated together as teammates.
I do not presume to speak here for any of those skaters, and I can only offer my wholly inadequate sympathy to all those who feel the loss of Bunny much more acutely than I do.
While I knew Bunny well enough to joke with her while we were setting up the Expo Center before a bout or to offer to buy her a drink at the party after a bout, I knew Bunny primarily as a fan. And it is as a fan that I miss her.
No rollergirl that I know plays derby more for any reason other than that she simply loves the sport, and in Bunny that love showed most clearly. At times, she was intensely determined, breathing through tightly pursed lips, and others have pointed out the skill that focus brought to Bunny's game: she jammed, she blocked everywhere in the pack, and she did it all very well. (She did seem to me to have some difficulty finding enough shirt for her boutfits, but that's nitpicking and something that many, many rollergirls struggle with.)
But whether she was jamming or blocking, hitting or being hit, much more often she lit up the track with her bright grin, and I have no doubt that much of the fun I had at bouts actually belonged to Bunny. The fun she had skating was plainly too much for her to hold on to all herself, and all the extra joy just spilled over for the rest of us. What's more, because Bunny skated for the High Rollers, who'd only won a single bout over the first three seasons, it was obvious that her excitement wasn't diluted by such distractions as "winning"—it was pure, born solely from the play itself.
That grin of Bunny's—sometimes wicked, often mischievous, always huge—made her immediately recognizable whether she was all derbied up or not. While I was still having trouble recognizing other skaters without their helmets, mouth guards, and the extra height from their skates, Bunny was impossible to miss at an after-party. And I don't remember her ever letting me buy her a drink; she seemed to think that she should thank us fans for watching rather than let us fans thank her for skating and sharing her excitement with us.
I often hear skaters talk about derby as something distinct from their "real" life, and certainly some aspects of derby have the feel of another life. (Skaters spend a second lifetime in derby-related activities, and no one names themself "Bunny" for a "real" job, well, not "Bunny Lepowski," anyway.) But there are so many real and significant ways that derby impacts the world we all live in: the bottom-up, DIY sensibility; the queer space it creates where gay and straight are both equally bent; and all of the awesome that is junior roller derby. And no less real than any of those is both the joy that Bunny radiated when she skated and the fissure she leaves in her absence.
I was sad to see Bunny retire at the end of the season, and now her absence has become achingly final. I wish I could thank Bunny for sharing her surplus of happiness with me and all my fellow fans and her fellow skaters. Instead, I'll thank all of you who have made, who are making, and who will make roller derby a real, good thing in the world.
Thank you all.