By day, Terri Armstrong is a quality regulatory specialist for a medical device company. But by night, she puts on crazy thigh-high socks, a black-and-white, polka-dot tutu, a Mr. Owl T-shirt and roller skates. She puts purple streaks in her hair, sucks on a Tootsie Pop and becomes Harmony Lix, a skating dervish on the Queen City Cherry Bombs, a New Hampshire roller derby team.
Armstrong, 41, originally from Londonderry, became interested in roller derby when two friends had their wedding reception at a roller skating rink.
"One of these friends is in the Boston roller derby league," Armstrong said. "It was my first time on skates since junior high."
Armstrong, now of Raymond, used to skate at Spinning Wheels in Londonderry, now Benson's Lumber and Hardware on Orchard View Drive.
"I checked out New Hampshire's roller derby and joined last August," Armstrong said. "You have to put your time in volunteering at bouts and training before joining a team."
She joined the Queen City Cherry Bombers in February. She also is on one of the derby's two intramural teams, the Granite Skate Troopers.
It's the state's original women's flat-track roller derby league. The women wear quad skates, rather than inline skates.
"It's a skater-run nonprofit organization that promotes women's athleticism while giving back to the local community," said Maggie Giadone.
Giadone, whose skating name in Saly D. Bug, is from Nashua and on the league's publicity committee and street team.
"Picking a name is ridiculously complicated," said Kristin Mahoney, a skater from Derry. "You cannot have the same, or even similar, name as any other roller girl in the world — it has to be unique."
Mahoney, also known as Maxine Kerosene, is new to the state's league, as is fellow Derry skater Lara Hubner.
"We're considered 'fresh meat,'" Hubner said. "You have to pass different assessment levels for safety, learning how to fall, stop and balance. I'm now at a Level 2 and can scrimmage with other skaters."
Worth every penny for equipment
Hubner, who goes by the name Prissassin on the derby floor, said while she rides horses, she never played organized sports. She skated for fun in junior high school and while at the University of New Hampshire.
Hubner, 33, works as a trainer at Paymentech in Salem. She heard about the New Hampshire league a couple of years ago from a friend who also went to UNH.
But she was living in Portsmouth at the time and said Manchester was too far away for derby bouts, and Tyngsboro and Nashua too far for practice.
After moving to Derry, Hubner checked out a practice and that was it.
"I loved the vibe," she said. "I bought my skates and pads, and joined in April without ever seeing a bout. The sport and the commitment are worth every penny."
Hubner's skates cost $450; her elbow, wrist and knee pads, $250.
While the skaters must wear their safety pads, helmets and mouth guards while competing, they have quirky individual "costumes" they wear side-rink to go along with their alias names.
"Part of the fun of being a part of derby is being able to wear things that you can't wear to the office," Mahoney, 24, said.
She works as a quality assurance analyst and technical support for a web-based publishing software company in North Andover.
"I prefer brightly colored tights, wacky-patterned knee socks, and coordinating hot pants," she said.
Mahoney said she learned about roller derby from a reality TV show.
"That was years ago and I was too young," she said. "You have to be 21 years old, with valid health insurance."
After watching the movie "Whip It," Mahoney said she knew she wanted to become part of a roller derby league.
"I wanted to just volunteer and e-mailed (team member) Hazel Smut Crunch, and told her I wanted to volunteer as a non-skater," she said.
Non-skaters can make it, too
With encouragement, Mahoney decided to skate and began training in March.
"I had only skated once before in my entire life a few years prior and absolutely hated it," she said. "I was flat on my rear end within five minutes of lacing on the skates and took them off as soon as I could crawl off the rink. Combine that with the fact that I am pretty much horrible at all sports and you have a pretty unlikely candidate for roller derby."
But she soon was hooked and recently earned clearance to be a contact skater.
"It's a pretty big accomplishment, considering I couldn't even stand up on skates a few months ago," she said.
Hubner and Mahoney meet two to three times a week to practice on their own at a park in Derry.
"It's not your mom's roller derby," Hubner said, referring to the roller derbies of the 1970s that were quite rough and bloody.
You can still get hurt, though. Armstrong said she's had whiplash and torqued her thumb during bouts.
"There is also what I call 'height intimidation,' " she said. "I'm only 5 foot 3 and when I see someone who's 6 feet on roller skates, I go, 'Holy moly.' "
The New Hampshire league has grown to 70 members over three years. Tryouts are held four times a year. In addition to the Queen City Cherry Bombs, a B team on the league, there is an A team called Skate Free or Die! All-Stars. The other intramural team is the Seabrook Meltdowns.
Some members have a "derby wife."
Armstrong said it's your best friend on the league, who looks out for your back.
"Not all members have one," she said. "I do. Her derby name is Sinister StingHer."
To find out more and for a schedule of home bouts at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester, visit nhrollerderby.com.
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Save the date
What: NH Roller Derby Battle of the Bands League fundraiser
When: Saturday, Aug. 7, 7 p.m.
Where: Stumble Inn, 20 Rockingham Road, Londonderry