The Washington Blade caught up with Stefanie Dolson who is playing in her second season with the Washington Mystics in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The 6’5” Dolson played center at UConn and the team won back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014. She was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft and began playing for the Mystics shortly after graduation.
During her college years, Dolson stepped forward as a straight sports ally, lending public support to help break down stereotypes, stop discrimination in recruiting and create positive role models for all people, not just the LGBT community.
Washington Blade: You didn’t have a lot of transition time when you went from college ball to the WNBA. What was the biggest surprise you encountered when you started playing pro ball with the Mystics?
Stefanie Dolson: Probably the physicality. In college, I was definitely the bigger of the girls. You know, stronger. So to come into the league and play with these girls like Kia [Vaughn] and Sylvia Fowles, Erlana Larkins—they’re just big, strong women. It was definitely a shock and it is a lot harder than college was. I’m still transitioning to that part. Sometimes I’m not as strong and as big as them but I’m getting there.
Blade: In your second season with the Mystics you are getting a lot more playing time, roughly 10 minutes more per game, and your numbers are looking great. What is keeping you sharp?
Dolson: I would say, coming into this season, I was a little more comfortable with what Coach [Thibault] wanted from me, what he expected from me. So definitely the comfort level and doing extra reps. At the beginning of the season I went in and did more workouts with Coach [Stanley] and did extra lifts. I’ve just been working on my game, making sure I’m never relaxed and complacent with where I am.
Blade: While you were an athlete at UConn, you shot a video with three of your teammates for the Break the Silence Campaign to draw attention to the discrimination that exists regarding sexual orientation in women’s sports. Why was it important for you to speak out on this issue?
Dolson: As student-athletes at UCONN, we had a really big platform to get the word out. I think when you have that platform, you don’t have to, but you have an opportunity to get the word out there for whatever cause. In this case it was the LGBT community, and to just raise awareness for the discrimination that there is in the world and in sports for female athletes. So I thought that was important and I was honored that they asked me to be a part of it.
Blade: The WNBA seems to be still sorting out its stance on lesbian players. Do you think that their efforts to reach out to the LGBT community over the past year are going to bring about some positive change?
Dolson: Yes. I think any opportunity that you take advantage of to raise awareness for any cause will help out in the future and in this case the WNBA has been doing a great job. Nike and Adidas, in general. Nike doing the “Be True” campaigning. You don’t necessarily have to be gay, straight, bisexual or whatever to support it and be a part of it. So to have everyone in the WNBA to put it out there and raise awareness for it, it will definitely help. I’m sure we’ll continue to do it.
Blade: We still get a laugh when we see the pictures of you falling off the podium risers in front of President Obama at the White House with your UConn teammates in 2014. Do you think you will ever live that down and did the dance-off ever happen with the president?
Dolson: No, I will never live it down. I mean, hopefully I will when I’m older and no one will remember it, other than my family and friends. But hey, any publicity is good publicity, right? It was a great opportunity to be there and to meet the president. I had a lot of fun but did not do the dance-off. I was very disappointed. But I hope to have that opportunity with a future president. Obviously it will not be President Obama but hopefully someone else will dance with me.