Photo by Craig Lammes
Photos by Craig Lammes, Cynthia, Inc Photography
Posted Jun 23, 2009
Tell us about yourself and your alter ego.
Dolly Rocket is confident and aggressive. And let’s not forget extremely stubborn. Danielle is all of those things, but to a much lesser degree, though Danielle is willing to apologize sometimes.
I don’t really see my roller derby personality as an “alter ego” so much as just one side of me. The really competitive and controlling side. I’m interested in lots of other things, and sometimes those personality traits come out in other aspects of my life. And sometimes outside things bleed into my roller derby life, making my roller derby persona seem more… human.
What is your favorite position to play and why?
I really like to Pivot, I am definitely most confident there. I’m trying to learn some new positions right now, though that position is pretty engrained into my brain, so it’s hard to break my pivot habits. I like pivoting because it really forces you to think about the pack holistically. You have to know how your every move will change the pack dynamics, and affect the people around you. You also have to react to what is going on in the game and communicate that with everyone. It’s definitely a high stress position, which I like, and I like the multi-tasking. Plus, I’m a complete control freak and I like telling people what to do. And that stripe is so slimming!
I also like jamming, though I don’t get to do it very often anymore, since we’ve lost some pivots this season on our travel team and I’m having to pick up some more playing time in that position. But jamming is really fun. It is definitely a high-pressure position, but its way more calming than being in the pack. You spend half of the jam by yourself chilling out and doing laps. If I need a break from all that thinking and getting pounded, I ask to go in and jam. Of course jamming requires a lot of thinking and getting pounded, but it’s a different kind. Mostly you can just rely on your reaction time and footwork, and all you have to worry about is the clock and one other girl as opposed to nine.
How do you balance your real life with your derby life?
Uhh, I don’t? Ha! Well, here’s the math:
Practicing 4-5 days a week + dating a rollergirl + the insane schedule CCRG has made for its players this year = not a lot of free non-derby time.
But, I consider those non-derby nights really precious and try to use them wisely. I make sure to do fun things on those nights (baseball games, yoga, open skates, football games, going out to eat, dancing, drawing, cleaning the house in my underwear, movies, shopping), and insist on a time limit for the amount of derby Joy and I can do together so our relationship doesn’t become totally about derby all the time. I also try not to do so much derby admin while I’m at work, but it’s hard when the computer is right there in front of you.
Have you played for any leagues/teams besides the Charm City Rollergirls?
I played for Providence Roller Derby from 2005-2007. I played with New England Roller Derby (NERD) that one time. And I played with the Boston Derby Dames on the Boston Massacre once. I’m playing with the Flying Shiny Object Posse at ECE this year! Beware the Persian cat with wings.
I’m a bit of a derby hoe. I’ll play anywhere with anyone as long as they will have me.
Who is your favorite rival team to play? Do you have a rival rollergirl?
Well, Joy Collision and I won “Best Rivalry” for the CCRG 2008 season.
But my favorite team to play would have to be my Providence girls. I am really proud of them; they came back from a really difficult year last year to improve leaps and bounds. It does make me a little sad to not be playing in a Riveters dress anymore when I see them all (especially out on that dance floor, they can school anyone), but they are a really great, positive group of girls. And I like lining up against Craisy Dukes, ‘cause I know how happy it makes her.
What is your best move on the track?
Well, I think the best thing a pivot can do would be to catch a jammer 19 feet in front of the pack, and slow her down until you are 19 feet behind the pack. Then, bump her and dump her to the ground. Get back into position, and do it again. I’ve been known to do that once or twice. My fav though is a two-parter. I catch the jammer and pull her into the pack and then scream “hit hit hit hit!” until one of the blockers comes and makes her fall down. Its all about the teamwork. I also like yelling at the refs and tapping my head when they don’t give me my grand slam points.
Where do you see flat track roller derby in 10 years?
Well I’m hoping in 10 years roller derby is a legitimate professional sport. It takes a lot out of us girls to do what we do, and it would be amazing to see skaters in the future playing professionally, being compensated for their hard work and bringing the sport to the next level. If rollergirls could focus on roller derby full time, the skating and the admin, there are no limits to where the sport can be taken. I don’t see how audiences could not find the sport to be the most exciting thing ever, it was designed that way.
Strangest fan encounter?
After I had been living in B’more for about two months, I was in a clothing store looking for cuteness, when someone started yelling, “Dolly Rocket?!” I was surprised that someone would recognize me after only having played one or two games with CCRG, but that wasn’t the case. He was in Baltimore and had recognized me as a skater from PRD! He was all sad that I had moved, and he and his friends wound up giving me some T-shirts with rocket ships on them that my former league mates mailed to me later.
Or there was the time some guy showed up to a CCRG event with a neon yellow T-shirt he had made that said “Dolly Rocket & Joy Collision-Jamming Without Lube” that had little drawings of both of us on it. He had the shirt made by a T-shirt company in New York that the founder of CCRG was working at the time. She was the one who took the order, and obviously immediately called Joy and I to tell us about this weirdo. Despite the crude shirt, he wound up being a very nice guy, and gets very excited when he sees either of us around town. He had us sign the shirts and said he was going to have our names embroidered over the signatures. Small world, right?
Or there was this time a really cute rollergirl I’d never met before sent me a fan email after seeing my team play at ECE. We’ve been dating now for two years.
What is your best roller derby memory?
Other than that fan email? I would say the one skating moment I look back on most fondly was Dust Devil ’06. It was the first ever roller derby tournament, and it was really awesome to see the scale what all of us rollergirls were creating. It was a great moment of validation for me, and for all rollergirls that were there I’m sure, to feel that all of your care and hard work was amounting to something bigger than just you in your hometown. Plus it was really inspiring to see all of these other more experienced teams and skaters play for the first time. I went home with a lot of new drills ideas and a big desire to work my butt off and get better. My whole team was really invigorated by the event, and it changed the face of roller derby.
Why are you a rollergirl?
I like sports. I’ve played sports my entire life, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, cross country, softball… you name it. And if I was on the team, I was probably the captain of it. Sports was always a really big part of my life. After high school, I went to the Rhode Island School of Design, which was an arts college that had no competitive sports teams. By my sophomore year I was about 20 pounds heavier and miserable. I really needed some kind of physical outlet to keep me sane, and I wanted to meet people outside of my really narrow social circle at art school. I started looking into local sports teams, and wound up seeing a poster for Providence Roller Derby in my school cafeteria. I thought, “why not, I’ll give it a shot”. Well I tried it, and it was better than any sport I had ever played. It was faster, harder, and more intense, and the people were way more interesting. It was nice to finally find a sport where you could be a jock but also be creative. I felt like I had finally found something that covered all of my interests, forced me to meet interesting people (I’m usually a hard core introvert) and was constantly challenging me physically and mentally. I still feel that way today, so I guess that’s why I’m still around.
Any advice for newbies?
1. Go to practice. When you are at practice, focus. Give every drill your full attention while you are there, you can goof off after. There is no point in doing a drill half way. The girls that can attend practice the most and can focus the most while they are there are the ones that improve quickly. The ones that improve quickly get placed on teams and get more playing time. The ones that get more playing time/experience, get better. See how that works?
2. Care. You should want to become an expert at what you are practicing. Watch a lot of footage, look at pictures- and not just of your league. Expose yourself to as much derby as possible. Especially the rules!
3. Every experience is a learning experience. You got your butt kicked? Learn from it. You kicked someone’s butt? Learn from it. You just watched the two best teams in the world play each other? Learn from it. You just watched the two worst teams in the world play each other? Learn from it. You can learn what to do from good examples and what not to do from bad examples. Using every experience as a learning experience also helps to keep things positive.
4. Set manageable goals for yourself. Like, if your goal is to “Be totally bad ass!” (yes, I’ve had skaters that tell me that was their goal before verbatim- I won’t name names), try to break it down into something more simple and tangible, like say, being able to sprint for two minutes straight, being a more aggressive and physical blocker, or learn how to cut to the inside line. Write down your goals for the practice, goals for the week, goals for the month and goals for the season, and review them before every practice. It will help you remain focused during the practice, and help you not get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you have to learn before reaching your ultimate goals. Don’t get discouraged if your bad ass-ness it doesn’t happen right away. Learning how to play a sport takes time!
5. Have fun! Don’t ever forget your original reasons for joining roller derby. Even though it’s a really fun sport, it can also be stressful and time consuming. Make sure you don’t let the work parts take over the fun parts.
Anything else you want the derby world to know?
I’m actually very nice. I’ve gotten some hate mail before from fans and other skaters, I guess they don’t share my sense of humor. But, ask anyone that knows me; I’m nice dammit!