Skate Girl Judy Purington

Judy Purington is the president and co-owner of Seacoast Roller Derby, one of seven leagues based in New Hampshire. She was once quite serious about pursuing a career in ballet, but, along the way, Judy exchanged her satin slippers for skates and found her passion for formal dance had neatly transposed itself to the totally anti-formal world of women’s roller derby.

Judy Purington at Dover ice Arena

Photo by David Mendelsohn

In her own words:

  • I began ballet at an early age but stopped dancing after my freshman year [when I] learned that a professional dancing career would be unlikely due my height.
  • I’m 6 feet tall. Normally, female dancers are no taller than 5’6” because of the pairings — the men are surprisingly short.
  • Currently, I’m the head trainer for both the Atomic
  • Angels (junior roller derby) and our “Fresh Meat” crew.
  • “Fresh Meat” is the term that represents new skaters with minimum skills. Our program teaches them how to stand, fall, deliver and receive hits, and protect themselves properly before competing.
  • A roller derby name is something skaters are allowed to choose only when they have passed their Fresh Meat assessments.
  • Mine is “Toy Named Sue,” as I’m a big Johnny Cash fan. Others in our league are Pinky Not A Taco, Allison Chains and Sin Bin.
  • Scrapes, bruises, wipeouts and big hits are the norm. These types of injuries are expected, but, even after the more serious type, like breaks, surgery or extensive physical therapy, the skaters always return.
  • I have personally been knocked out.
  • Since 2001, when the Texas Rollergirls began the roller derby revival, the sport has really picked up steam. What began as a few hundred leagues across the globe has turned into thousands.
  • The most popular version is flat-track roller derby. Although banked-track roller derby is still in existence, it is primarily found on the West Coast, with the exception of one banked track in Pennsylvania.
  • Roller derby is the first sport I’ve encountered that combines both the feminine and tough. Women are allowed to be sexy, yet fierce, which I find incredibly important and empowering.
  • I will compete in this sport until my giraffe legs fall off.

FAMILY RIVALRY: Seacoast Roller Derby currently has three teams — The Poison Pixies (A-team), the Vicious Valkyries (B-team) and the Atomic Angels (junior roller derby) — and one major rivalry with Keene’s Elm City Derby Damez. Purington says that, on June 11, they scored a memorable victory against Elm City. “We were bloody, beaten and absolutely exhausted, but no matter how rough it gets on the track, we all get to bond and enjoy food and drinks together after. Derby is family, no matter how you look at it.”

Categories: Q&A