May 2015 Featured Skater: Dolly Pardon Me

May 1, 2015

Dolly Pardon Me began her derby career over a decade ago with the Mad Rollin' Dolls, skating through the very start of the WFTDA and continuing her career to this day as a free-agent skater and part-time announcer. Dolly has come to represent the resilience of the sport and its ability to not only change each skater, but to allow each skater to change and evolve with their skating career. Learn more about what Dolly's up to and she's looking forward to in the next decade of derby!

May 2015 Featured Skater: Dolly Pardon Me

What is your derby name?
My derby name is Dolly Pardon Me.

Please explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name.
The inspirational country singer, Dolly Parton, is one of my favorites! After coming home from a practice and telling my boyfriend how I bumped into everyone in my first weaving drill saying, "sorry, oops ‘scuse me!" he said, “your derby name should be Dolly Pardon Me.”

What is your number? 925

What is your home league?
I skate with and now also announce for the Mad Rollin' Dolls.

Which team(s) do you play on?
I currently skate with Team Unicorn as a free agent skater. Previously I had skated with the Vaudeville Vixens for 10 years (home team) and the Dairyland Dolls for eight years (travel team).

What is your skate gear of choice?
I skate with Vanilla boots I got a few years ago and the new wheels I got from Mouse at 608 Skate. Still using the plates from my Reidel skates of years gone by.

Do you have a pre-bout ritual? Now that I’m announcing, I get nervous again. I had for years always used bout day to make jello or pudding shots for after the bout. I try to relax and not plan anything else for bout day, other than going to the farmer's market or doing some laundry. I never had any specific ritual before bouts other than to get in the zone as I gear up with my team.

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
I think about how awesome it is I get to actually lace up my skates and play roller derby. I think about my goal for the bout, whatever small or somewhat unrealistic thing it may be, and whatever other things come to mind.

Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
“Do what you feel.”
“Don’t kick your puppy.” by Bonnie D. Stroir
“For the skaters, by the skaters.”

Do you have a theme song?
"9 to 5" by Dolly Parton. In line with pre-bout rituals or motivational quotes, I really like Dolly’s newer song Better Get to Livin’, especially these lines (with a slight modification at the end):
*I said you'd better get to livin', givin'
Be willing and forgivin'
Cause all healing has to start with you
You better stop whining, pining
Get your dreams in line
And then just shine, design, refine
Until they come true
And you better get to livin'.
Your life's a wreck, your house is mess
And your wardrobe way outdated
All your plans just keep on falling through
Overweight and under paid, under appreciated I'm no guru, but I'll tell you
This I know is true.
You better get to livin', givin'
A little more thought about bein'
A little more willin' to make a better way
Don't sweat the small stuff
Keep your chin up
Just hang tough
And if it gets too rough
Fall on your knees and pray [play Roller Derby], and do that everyday
Then you'll get to livin'.

How did you get involved with roller derby?
I attended the Mad Rollin’ Dolls first exhibition bout to watch my friend, Hell Kat, skate, and she talked me into coming to their open skate recruitment the next Wednesday. I tied up some rental skates we called “brownies” and hung onto the walls as I tried to skate down the ramp and around the rink for the first time. The skating I had done as a kid started to come back and I started to speed walk/run on my skates until I was taught by the gracious “Original MRD Skaters” to roll. I went to the league orientation meeting and signed up. The rest is, well, 10 years of my history.

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
I had been playing some inter-mural volleyball and softball with Madison community teams. I liked sports and played volleyball and basketball in junior high, and was on the swim team for a year, but didn't make any of the teams I tried out for in high school. I had really only roller skated at the monthly skate parties we had in grade school at Red’s Roller Rink in Kenosha, WI.

Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
I had to learn how to roller skate and do cross overs, lots of Low D’s to work on basic form, lots of circles, pyramid drills, balance drills. I learned to “bend my knees” and get low while I skated. We started to learn how to hit which made me a bit nervous, until I actually started the drill, and now the hitting hurricane-style drills are still some of my favorites. I’d practice body hits on the grass or in the snow with my boyfriend to build up strength. I was sometimes the only skater from my team at practice.

We had a wrestling coach that would come in to work with us on occasion. I remember working on rolling out of falls and being able to go into the roll safely, building up from kneeling to standing to safely falling with another skater. We had two drills that we always did a lot those first years, which I don’t recommend any longer: Fall Down/ Get Up and Blood and Thunder. We would fall on our knees on the whistle as we skated around the track. We increased the time we did this to build endurance. But hey, we were taught how to fall before we were taught how to hit, and we were told to “shoot the cooch” meaning slide/don’t land on your knees while using your core to land and control the slide and impact. Then we were taught how to hit through the other skater to really send her flying. But I got to start out with everyone else starting out, and didn’t have to try out or even make a draft. I was one of the skaters that got to be asked by the elected captains of the first season to join a team- before we had enough skaters for rosters of 14.

What is your position of choice?
Whatever you need. I like to block!

What is your signature move?
Don’t really have a signature move, but may work to create one, now that you ask. I like to look to the inside and give the jammer a nice outside lane into the turn, then time it and work the angles to hit and drag her with my ass arms to the line and out of bounds, with the possibility of running back to get her to cut.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
Pack player with renegade tendencies. Old school, maybe as I like to go for those last chance, well-timed hits. I like to have fun – on the line I’ll joke around or talk trash. I’m also a motivator giving myself or others encouragement out loud during a jam.

May 2015 Featured Skater: Dolly Pardon Me

Photo by Douglas Otto (Papa-Razzi)

Please share your best derby moment (or moments).
Sooo many. There’s not a best after 10 years that I can say I’ve had, but so many great moments. Traveling by train to New York to play Gotham Girls Roller Derby at the Skate Key and singing to the Dairyland Dolls on the subway platform waiting for the train to the Bronx. I got to skate with my cousin who was in New York for the summer after the bout at their open skate and then on to a crazy awesome night! Playing at East Coast Derby Extravaganza with the DD’s and then jumping into the pool with our dresses on. Jamming at my first tournament, the Dust Devil, against Tucson and getting hit into the announcer’s table by Doe Holiday who had chased me out of the pack over 45 feet, which was legal at the time. I specifically remember that bout’s pep talk given by Derringer and 8 Track who were seemingly Awesome Amazon Texecutioners before the bout. (Derringer, 8Track, Lucille Brawl) Skating at the Bumberbout and then the Roy and then the Coliseum and so many other awesome places along the way. Every derby trip had magical moments and will forever be all mixed up in my memory. Getting nervous as a rookie for the first bout of the season as announcer instead of skating in the bout. The first time someone responded to my "Pardon me, have you heard of roller derby?" with "Yes, (excitement) do you play for the Mad Rollin' Dolls?"... that is so awesome!

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
So many things throughout all the years. I always feel as though jamming without penalty is an accomplishment, executing a nice offensive move with immediate transition to defense. Jumping was a big accomplishment for me too. Hockey stops, backwards skating. Memorable moments on the track include: beating Jenny Knoxville in an overtime jam 9-0 as my Vixen team held her scoreless, while I jammed; winning the league Championships in 2009 with an awesome team of Vixens; pretty much every game I’ve played with all of my awesome teammates throughout the years, except for that one where I lost my shit; playing with the travel team, Dairyland Dolls for eight years; jamming for the Dairyland Dolls in the final jam of the 2012 North Central Region Playoffs in Niagara Falls – I think the last regional tournaments before playoffs for divisions began. Skating in my 10th season of roller derby with the Mad Rollin’ Dolls with some additional metal in my right ankle from a break the previous mid-season.

Off the track?
This nomination. Being WFTDA skater rep for the league for the past several years. Managing the merch committee for four years and building relationships with sponsors for the league. Finding a community of people who work together to make this sport happen and all of the friendships and connections that I have made through the years. Being involved in the management of the league during the first five years. I always win the off the track awards at the Owwies (Mad Rollin' Dolls Awards) like Rabid Teaminess and Most Dedicated Doll. Random thought: I loved that we sewed our own uniforms during the good ole’ days, and remember dress sewing parties with the Dairyland Dolls. Just finishing my first season announcing for the league.

Who are your derby heroes?
The skaters that not only skate but also lead and take on the key roles needed to keep the league running. Our founding Mothers of the WFTDA organization and Crackerjack who helped make MRD a part of that and led the formation of the organization with the founders of the WFTDA. All the skaters and anyone out there living jam by jam, bout to bout, tournament to the next tournament for the love of roller derby. Anyone that gives it all they’ve got and then some: you are my heroes.

What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I am the fertilizer program manager for the WI Department of Agriculture. It has not really contributed to my experience of roller derby as much as roller derby contributed to my experience of getting the job. I started roller derby when I worked in childcare as a toddler teacher–it was a great contrast to my day job. I’ve worked a few other jobs since then, however, none of them in a supervisor capacity. I’ve been able to use my committee management and team leadership experience and work with the Mad Rollin’ Dolls as a resume booster, and it was this experience which helped for getting a supervisory position.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
It’s changed my awareness of myself and my body as a tool/machine that needs proper maintenance. It has instilled in me a sense that I can do anything I want to if I’m willing to put the time and energy into it as well as giving me a sense of reality that I may not be the superstar, but that’s okay. It has provided me with friends, travel destinations, practices/meetings to plan my schedule around, a sense of peace and well-being in a world of chaos sometimes, and lots of drama other times. It’s helped me open my eyes to so many different people and perspectives and also reinforced the aspects of individuality with common values in a community of people that work together to make the sport of roller derby happen.

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
There is no balance. Derby comes first and everything else is second. But seriously, you have to take some time away so as not to get annoyed by the little things. You have to take some time for yourself to be any good to yourself or others. You have to take time with loved ones and things that are important. Balance takes time management skills, and that’s often difficult with everything we have to juggle in life.

What advice do you have for people who want to play roller derby?
Do it. Find a starting point that makes sense for you and believe in yourself. Don’t expect or demand natural talent but realize improvement takes work. Respect those that came before you and made the league what it is today. As Dolly Parton says, “Get your dreams in line and then just shine, design, refine til they come true.” Work hard and give ten times what you expect to get back, and most importantly, have fun!

Do you have a special message to your fans?
Pardon Me, I didn’t realize that I had fans. I love you and thank you for your support.

Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
The Mad Rollin’ Dolls Championships bout in 2 weeks – Championships are always a great display of derby skill from all 4 home teams, and it’s great to see how far the rookies have come. I’ll get to announce all the action.

When you started out as a skater with the Mad Rollin' Dolls, did you ever see yourself skating for a decade? Where do you see your derby career going in the next ten years?
Heck No. I didn’t really know where I was going then, and still don’t, but I feel that during those years of figuring out what to do with my life, I found roller derby, which gave me a team, a league of support, and guidance allowing me to skate in ways that I never would have imagined. Announcing for the league this year made me remember what it felt like to be a rookie–like my first season on the league, or the first bout we played at the Alliant Energy center. All nerves. It’s a lot different talking to the audience the whole night than it is skating in a bout.

I’d like to see Madison get a junior roller derby formed to keep up with building the future of derby. I also may have to open up Dolly Mama’s School or daycare because y’all keep havin’ babies.

We’ll just have to see what the next 10 years bring, and if it’s anything like the last ten, it should be a lot of fun and more hard work.

As a skater who experienced the formation of the WFTDA and the explosive groth of roller derby ever since, what are some of the most exciting things for you to have been a part of in that time?
Played at so many awesome venues against great teams. I got to experience derby from the beginning and watch as the teams changed and the rules changed and then again and again. The bout changed from show to sport, and the explosion of skill level and growth since the first tournament is amazing.

May 2015 Featured Skater: Dolly Pardon Me

Art by Glock Ness/Maggie Gosselar

We love that your Facebook profile photo is a picture of yourself and Mouse looking at cave paintings of derby. What is the story behind this artwork and the artist?
I love this question, because to me, this represents the fundamentals that I know to be derby. MRD has a tradition of sourcing our artwork from within our derby community. An awesome artist and skater on the league, Glock Ness, aka Maggie Gosselar, drew and created this poster for our prehistoric themed bout. We had bout themes during the 2014 season of decades 50’s through 90’s, and then prehistoric and futuristic in honor of our Decade of Derby:10 years of MRD. Mouse and I represented two of the last few skaters still on the league from the beginning, and that history and nostalgia between us inspired Glock to come up with this image.

Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
So many people that I can’t possibly name them all. My family who have supported me and come to see me in bouts all over America. Andy, who retired from derby long ago and waits for the day that I do, but supports me. Sister Mary, who traveled with me and the DD’s in the formative years. To my derby family, current and former, near and far, thank you for coming into my life.

And we just have to know. What is your favorite Dolly Parton song?
If I have to pick just one, it’s gotta be 9 to 5, followed by Coat of Many Colors, and Jolene. Dolly has some great ones like Better get to Livin’ and some good oldies that make me cry like Eagle When She Flies.

Do you know a WFTDA skater who has been around as long as (or longer than) WFTDA? We want to hear about her! Please email and tell us why she should be featured on

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.