Double Dutch champ Sharrice Perkins remembered in memorial tournament

Will Taylor, Special to the Reporter
Mar. 27, 2014

Sharrice Perkins, one of three victims in a horrific 2012 shooting on Harlem Street, was remembered last Saturday at a Double Dutch tournament in Roxbury, an event at which Perkins would have felt quite at home. Perkins was a state championship jumper herself, traveling with her team to the worlds championship competition as a middle and high-school student.

Perkins was just 22 when her life was taken in a parked car. Two other women—Kristen Lartey and Genevieve Philip— were also shot dead and a fourth woman was left wounded. The case remains unsolved.

A year and a half later, her family and friends are still grappling with her sudden loss. Saturday’s ceremony at Madison Park High School was both a somber reminder of Perkins’ untimely death and a fitting celebration of her memory and legacy. The tournament, which has been held annually since 2010, will henceforth be called the Sharrice Perkins Annual Tournament.

Perkins was an all-around athlete, according to her mother, Angela Francis. She excelled in basketball, cheerleading, and dance. Plus, “She used to say she was a football player,” recalled Francis, chuckling.

But competitive Double Dutch, which she discovered after attending a workshop with her friends in elementary school, quickly became her passion.

Perkins’ mother matched her enthusiasm for Double Dutch, which is a comparatively obscure sport in the Boston area, and the pair, along with Perkins’ friends, readily jumped into the competitive double-dutch world.

“I didn’t get into it until she went to a workshop…and from there I went to the principal and said I wanted to start a team,” said Francis. “Basically we did it together.”

Not long after that, Perkins and her teammates were traveling to Sumter, South Carolina for the Double Dutch Worlds competition, where they eventually became the first team from Massachusetts to place for a medal.

Double Dutch is a sport in which two “turners” spin jump ropes in opposite directions, while one “jumper” jumps in the middle. Teams are judged on speed, consistency, and tricks. Perkins was involved in the sport until her death, judging tournaments in Boston and assisting her mother as a coach even after she was done competing. Francis continues to coach jumpers in elementary through high school. She, along with Samantha Pitts, Perkins’ old teammate, were both judges at the tournament on Saturday.

Although coaching and judging can be a painful reminder of her daughter’s death, Francis feels connected to their daughter through the sport.

“I felt like she would have been mad if I stopped…because she knew how much I loved it, and she loved it,” said Francis.

Pitts remembers Perkins as an energetic and vivacious person, who was always seeking new experiences. Pitts says it is highly appropriate for Perkins’ to be recognized through Double Dutch, a sport to which she gave so much of her energy.

“I know we were a part of people seeing Double Dutch and not only [as] something you do at recess. It was something we’re getting trophies for, we’re getting medals for, we’re getting recognized for…and I feel like for her name to be recognized at this tournament was extremely appropriate,” said Pitts in a phone interview.

“I know she’d be happy,” said Pitts. “She’d be like ‘yeah, that’s right.’”

For both Pitts and Francis, Double Dutch is a connection to Perkins and a reminder of her loss.

“She always helped me, whenever I needed her, or whenever she had a minute. She always came to Double Dutch,” said Francis. “So that was something we probably would have grown old together with.”

“She wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Francis.