August 1, 2014
Don't let the name fool you: the Mad Rollin' Dolls' Mouse is a skater who uses her smarts, size, and speed to dominate the track. A member of the Dolls since the very infancy of modern roller derby, Mouse has been a dynamic force for her league both on the track and off the track. Learn more about what keeps Mouse constantly working to improve herself, her league, and the sport.
What is your derby name? Mouse
Please explain the inspiration and story behind your derby name.
It came from my Mom and Dad, way back when I was a treat-nibbling kid who hid under the furniture when company was over. Lucky for me, not too many derby names existed yet when I started, and it wasn't taken.
What is your number?
My number is 4, like the seasons, the elements, the directions on a compass, the wheels on a skate.
What is your home league? Mad Rollin' Doll in Madison, Wisconsin.
Which team(s) do you play on?
Home: Reservoir Dolls, Travel: Dairyland Dolls
What is your skate gear of choice?
I got a custom pair of skate boots handmade by happy union workers in Redwing, MN. The stitching was done with machines built in the 1940's and 50's, that are still going strong. The boots have cheesy yellow cutouts, and they even stamped my name right on the bottom!
Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
I used to have routines, even some superstitions, but not anymore. I've learned that you can't get too attached too much to habit, because things don't always go your way on bout day. But simple prep includes good food, good tunes, breathing, stretching, giving thanks, and telling my teammates how special this day is.
What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
When I lace up, I'm just making sure everything feels good: laces snug and secure, gear all in its place, water full, tools in the bag, I'm ready to go. Feeling present, breathing, maybe a little visualization.
Do you have a favorite motivational quote?
"Success is what happens when you get up once oftener than you fall down." Unknown source.
Do you have a theme song?
Haha yes! "Here I come to save the daaay!"
How did you get involved with roller derby?
A flyer made its way to my coffee table thanks to my roommate at the time and bestie Jill. MRD's first ever recruitment, July 11, 2004. It read: "Hey girls, feel like gettin' hard core?" Yes, yes I do.
What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
Just fun! My sister let me try on her skates when I was tiny, and I begged and begged until my folks finally took me to a rink when I was maybe 3 or 4. I was hooked. I also lived near a pond growing up and got to ice skate on it every winter, emulating Olympic speed and figure skaters with my walkman, and playing hockey with my brothers. I just love the feeling of gliding along; there's nothing like it.
Please tell us about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby.
Ah, 2004. Well, a few days after the recruitment, Hydra happened to be in town for work, and made time to show us some drills and skate tech. Crackerjack was our head coach and I got to be her first demo ragdoll when she introduced us to hitting. That was only after most of us finally got helmets and mouthguards, as they weren't mandatory for practice quite yet. None of us knew how to play derby yet. We were taking cues from Texas where we could and writing the rest as we went along.
What is your position of choice?
Wherever I'm most needed. I'll do it all, just put me in!
What is your signature move?
I do like sneaking through small holes, and also making friends with opposing jammers.
How would you describe your derby playing style?
Oh, jeez. I'm told by others that its clear I'm having fun out there, and that I'm very passionate. These are true facts.
Please share your best derby moment(s).
There are moments individually that I know I will remember as being really awesome, but the best times are when the whole team and especially the whole league is glowing with pride for weeks, months, years after. Our first interleague bout vs Gotham, playing at the first WFTDA tournament ever, Tucson's Dust Devil, then 3rd place at Seattle's Bumberbout, hosting Derby in Dairyland in 2008, "making it" to a big venue after 4 years in a little rink, gosh there are too many. I'll write a book someday, I promise.
What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Getting up! But seriously. I don't like making these lists. I have my awards from past years in a box because I like to look forward instead of back. But I'll try: My home team has won 5 out of 10 years of championships, my travel team is currently ranked 29 in the world, and I did have a really fun time making the scrimmage cut for Team USA both times I tried out last year. And I lost the running tally I had been keeping, but I think I've played around 150 or 160 games in my career so far. More fun to come!
Off the track?
I'm very proud of the connections and work that my league has done in the community over the years. My personal favorite cause is Special Olympics Wisconsin, for which we've raised I don't know how many thousands of dollars every year by taking the Polar Plunge. We all are very privileged and gifted to be able to use our bodies in such a strong, fun, skillful sport, and the athletes we support are very grateful for that same opportunity to grow and be challenged as a human.
Who are your derby heroes?
The volunteers. People without names or numbers on their backs, that just love the sport and want to help out in any way they can. Thanks, MRD! GG, Crackerjack, Pam Demonium, Bloody Mary, Hydra, Lucille, (basically all of the O.G. Texas Rollergirls), Jewels, Ching, Hack, Paine, Ivanna S. Pankin and Trish the Dish, Val, Helen/Sheriff, Bonnie D, Bonnie T, Suzy, Varla, Rebel, all my O.G. and current Mad Rollin' Dolls leaguemates for building this dream together, all the Moms, all the students and the teachers; everyone who has been told in life, "You can't do that" and they go, "Watch Me."
What is your day job? And how, if at all, has it contributed to your experience of roller derby?
I work with adults with special needs. It has helped me to constantly appreciate the opportunities I'm presented with, and not take myself too seriously. I work with some really awesome people with great senses of humor and beautiful outlooks on life.
How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
I'm always learning new things, psychologically, physically, emotionally. It has helped my self-perspective and made me feel connected to my place in this world, by challenging my ways of thinking and forcing me into uncomfortable situations. I see walls, I want to go through them.
How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
I didn't ever "find" it, but I'm working on making it. Balance means feeling happy, and I'm learning how to get in tune with what that means for me. It's different for everyone. The sacrifices you make to be competitive or to be a leader or to get shit done for your league are only worth it if you enable yourself to feel satisfaction, whatever the outcome. And satisfaction can only be found in gratitude, and I think gratitude comes when you make time to reflect.
As one of the skaters who has been around since the beginning of modern derby, the formation of the first 30 league, and WFTDA itself, what has it been like to see the sport evolve and a change? Where do you see yourself in the next decade of derby?
Its been a whirlwind romance-turned-long-term-relationship, to say the least. I'm proud and thankful that Derby is still so beautiful and smart and strong, and I think the development of the WFTDA has been instrumental to that evolution. I love the model of democracy, inclusion, self-propulsion and female empowerment that our Org was built on and continues to be. Rock on, WFTDA. Where do I see myself? Skating, entrepreneurial ventures perhaps, who knows?
Your derby career was immortalized in 2011 with the release of the video game" Jam City Rollergirls" as a playable character for the Mad Rollin' Dolls. What was it like to play yourself in a game and how have things changed for you since then?
The folks at Frozen Codebase were really fun to work with, that whole process was a blast. I didn't get to do the motion-sensor animation like I'd originally thought, so they humored me and went out and got ping-pong balls and tape and we pretended. To this day I still get the urge to jump over a tractor whenever I see one, and when I get lead jam, I like to think I'm glowing and have super turbo capabilities.
Not only are you the overall Top Point Scorer for your league, but also maintain the Highest Total of Lead Jams Earned and Highest Percentage Lead Jam on your league. So we have to know: what's your secret?
Teamwork! Lead jam comes from great packs, and great relationships with them. I can't take credit for something that 4 other people worked so hard on. I'm just happy when it all works out, and I try to do my part to make sure we go into games feeling connected and ready to make magic together.
What advice do you have for girls who want to join roller derby?
Go for it! Soak in the wisdom and stoke of others, but try not to compare. Your best is the best. I'll see you out there, I hope.
Do you have a special message to your fans?
Thank you! Thanks for everything. You keep me going.
Do you have any upcoming bouts that you’re really excited for and why?
I get jitters for every bout, no matter what! But I'm super stoked to play SoCal at playoffs in October, because fellow O.G.'s Ivanna S.Pankin and Trish the Dish will be on the track--not too often you get to see 20+ years of experience on that side of the jammer line.
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
Mom, Dad, Gretchen, Craig, Nate, Donut (love of my life), Jill, Tanya, Crackerjack, Pam D, all my teammates, all my leaguemates, all my WFTDA friends, Freedom Skateshop, whoever invented the roller skate, the Creator of this beautiful world (whomever or whatever you might refer to it as), lots of friends and supporters that I would list if I could, I love you and thank you for everything you bring to life!
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.