Mild mannered government employee by day, roller derby superstar by night, Bella Lewkowicz is one of the toughest ladies rolling the streets of Hintonburg.
Lewkowicz, 34, is better known in her circle by her derby name, Delicate Plower (or plow’her. Get it?). She is the president of Ottawa’s competitive roller derby league, Capital City Derby Dolls (Double D to the Double C), and she is captain of the league’s travel team, Dolly Rogers.
For those not in-the-know, roller derby is a full contact, team sport where two teams of five players race around an oval track on roller skates – old school, four wheel skates, no roller blades. Each team has one point scorer, or “jammer”, and their job is to speed around the track, lapping members of the opposing team to score points, all while avoiding being blocked, body checked and hitting the floor. At first glance it all looks like chaos, but once you figure it out, the sport is quite exhilarating to watch.
Plower is into her third season of competitive derby. She started playing four years ago, after a friend from her women’s football team suggested they give the sport a try. Lewkowicz was hooked immediately and has been in love with roller derby ever since.
She started in the Ottawa Roller Derby League, a non-competitive team, which has a slower pace, less physical contact and is generally more of a light-hearted good time.
“We wanted to be competitive, we wanted to practice a lot more and we wanted to take it up to another level,” said Plower.
She started Capital City Derby Dolls that year and launched a competitive team. Competitive roller derby is a rough sport and injuries do happen, “Like every other sport, especially a contact sport, if you’re not careful you can open yourself up to injury,” she says, warning that physical conditioning is a must for any player. “You don’t use roller derby to get into shape, you have to get into shape to play roller derby.”
Nicknames are one of the fun quirks to roller derby, Delicate Plower plays alongside ladies that go by, Snarlz, Tank, Sugar & Spite and Bust’er Up, to name a few. “Some people, their personality breeds into their name and it’s just a thing, it just happens,” says Plower.
The Derby Dolls have two exciting events happening this month. On July 6 a double header match will be taking place at Barbra Ann Scott Arena, featuring the Dolly Rogers and their male counterparts, Slaughter Squad.
Yes, men also play roller derby, fun fact. “They lost their girlfriends to roller derby,” laughs Plower. The men do go out of their way to eliminate the feminine glitz from their attire, though. “They’re more finicky about how their skates look than we are,” says Plower. “One guy took his old work boots and slapped plates (wheels) onto those.”
The main event for the Derby Dolls this month will be July 20, when city hall invites them to take over Marion Dewar Plaza and the Rink of Dreams for the day. “They wound up approaching us to do some kind of event and we turned around and said, ‘can we have a whole Saturday?” says Plower. “It’s roller derby day in Ottawa.”
The day’s events will include four matches from noon till 6 p.m. Both the women’s and men’s competitive teams will be playing, as well as house team, The Dollinquents. Skills competitions and mixed matches will keep the fun going throughout the day and the event is being catered by several of Ottawa’s food trucks.