Wednesday, November 11

In Memory of Bunny Lepowski

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.

Bunny Lepowski
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.)Bunny Lepowski
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.
Bunny Lepowski
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.
Bunny Lepowski
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.

— grant


  1. Bunny, you are deeply missed and will never be forgotten.

  2. I love that photo, Gwen'nich. Nicely chosen.

  3. My apologies to the photographers whose images I screwed with to make them black & white and to fit my own aesthetics. Please forgive me. :)

  4. I feel so blessed to have had Bunny as my teammate in 2009. With her giant grin, her playful antics, and love of the game-she was someone that I always looked up to and admired. She always came to the track with a postive attitude and a willingness to help others to be the best skaters they could be. Bunny believed in her team and all the skaters that we a part of it.

    I am deeply saddened by this loss, but grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from all of RCR, and the larger derby community as a whole. This reminds me of how lucky we are to have such a great network of people who really care about each other's lives. Even though we may play for different teams, we are still just a really big family of sorts. Times like these serve as reminders of just how lucky we are to have each other and this great sport that we all love.

    Bunny will always be in my heart and mind, I only wish that I knew how limited my time with her would be, so that I would have got to know her more, to have been a better teammate, to tell her how much I appriciated everything she taught me.

    She really gave her all to her team. I think it is such a gift that she fianlly got to see her beloved High Rollers in the Championships. We could not have done it without her. Not only was Bunny an amazing skater, but she truly was one of a kind; a shinning star.

    My heart goes out to the High Rollers and all of the lives that have been touched by this amazing woman. You will be truly missed, Bun Pow.

    Mercyful Kate