A SUNY Broome Health Sciences student and personal trainer during the week, Kristine Northrup has a different identity once Friday rolls around and she straps her helmet under her chin.
Then, she becomes Bomber – or #39 – for the Penn Jersey She Devils, where she rules the rink in the rough-and-tumble sport of women’s roller derby.
The Binghamton native also skates with Team USA Roller Sports and will head to Barcelona, Spain, this July to compete in the 2019 World Roller Games – the top level of derby. The ultimate goal: to have roller derby achieve the ranks of an Olympic sport in 2020, and go for the gold.
“It’s a recognized sport throughout the entire world,” said Kristine, a current Health Studies major who has been skating for nine years. “It’s awesome that the derby community is able to get to this level. They’re finally getting recognition.”
While it has recently experienced a resurgence, roller derby actually has its origins in the 1930s and used to be featured on television with a banked track. Back in its heyday, it earned the reputation as both playful and aggressive, and – although this is slowly changing – has largely drawn female athletes.
“Now it’s very professional,” noted Kristine, although the sport retains its tradition of flashy style and fanciful player names; some of Bomber’s teammates on the She Devils, for example, include Glitz ‘N Slam, Misfortune Cookie and Parks & Amputation.
‘A wild ride’
A Union-Endicott High School graduate, Kristine Northrup earned a bachelor’s degree in photography from SUNY Purchase. While in college for the first time, a friend introduced her to roller derby.
Life took her across the country. She headed west to California, where she worked at an art gallery until it was shuttered by the economy. While living in Virginia, her interest in derby reignited and she joined her first team, transferring to another team when she returned to the Southern Tier five years ago.
A little over three years ago, she tried on a new role: entrepreneur. Drawing on her interests, she opened KNorth Fit, which offers personal training and nutrition coaching, as well as skate clinics and even “sip and art,” a combination of painting and happy hour.
On top of that, she decided to return to college and opted for SUNY Broome. Currently in Health Studies, she is preparing to transfer into the challenging Physical Therapist Assistant program.
“The focus is on promoting health and helping others. It was very complimentary to what I currently do for my business and I want to broaden my horizons,” she said. “I chose SUNY Broome because it was local and it was a good way for me to get my foot in the door. The courses I have taken on campus were excellent, and the professors are great at guiding students.”
Juggling coursework with a business enterprise and roller derby – which essentially amounts to a second job – can be grueling, but Kristine makes it work. She’s able to schedule classes around her derby games, and meeting clients at their homes and online allows her to be flexible with her career, as well.
“I’m away almost every weekend, flying somewhere. It’s been a wild ride,” she said.
Long-term, the future has all the glitz and glam of a roller derby rink: maybe a Ph.D. in a health-related field, even a shot at the Olympics. In the meantime, she’s giving it her all – in the rink, where she’s working to master new forms of skating; in her business as a personal trainer; and, above all, in the classroom, where she’s working hard to achieve top grades.
Just over the horizon is Barcelona, and Kristine “Bomber” Northrup can’t wait,
“It’s absolutely mind-blowing. You can’t go any further than that — it’s the top of the top, representing the U.S. in something I love so much,” she said. “I’ve been trying to do this for a very long time.”
Want to help send Bomber to Barcelona? There will be a fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. March 24 at Touch of Texas, located at 1240 Upper Front St., featuring the Rhythm Hill Blues Band. Tickets are $5 at the door.You can also contribute to her GoFundMe here.