Kathleen Sandelin, aka Skull Lady
Kathleen Sandelin, aka Skull Lady, is among a number of Oakland Raiders fans who add excitement and delight to attending Raiders games.
My name is Kathy Sandelin, aka Skull Lady. I have been a Raiders fan all my life. I grew up in a small California town of approximately 400 people. We had four groups of families that were Raiders fans in this small town and every Sunday we would go to a different family's house to watch the Raiders game together.
One special memory happened at the Cooper's house. The Raiders were losing to the San Diego Chargers in the final minutes and everyone went into the kitchen to get food and drinks because they thought the game was over. I remained sitting on the ground in front of the television, still watching the game, and saw them hike the ball to Ken Stabler.
As Kenny was getting sacked, he fumbled the ball forward where Pete Banaszak grabbed it, fumbled it again, and Dave Casper fell on it in the end zone and the Raiders won the game. I remember calling for my dad and asking, "Does that count?! Does that count?!"
Everyone ran back in the living room and screamed when the referees called the touchdown good. This play was later named the Holy Roller and is still my favorite play to this day. Because of that play, my dad and I will never leave the game until the clock ticks down to zero.
I have been Skull Lady and a Raiders season ticket holder since 2000. It all started when I went to a Raiders versus Rams preseason game in 1995 for my honeymoon. My husband and I snuck down to the lower section of seats where we ran into the super fan, Violator.
My husband grabbed him as he was walking up the stairs, told him that we were on our honeymoon and asked him if he would take a picture with me. The Violator asked him, "How did you get her to let you come to a Raiders game on your honeymoon?"
My husband told him, "It was her idea!"
The Violator got the biggest kick out of that and took a picture with me. Later my sister and I scored tickets to the Raiders versus Dolphins playoff game in 2000 and decided we were going to go to the Halloween store and buy face paint to paint up like the Violator.
As we walked in the store, my niece Taylor, who was four years old, pointed to this costumed mannequin and said, "Aunt Kathy, you need to wear that to the Raiders game."
My sister convinced me into buying the costume by promising me she would make me a custom-made Otis Sistrunk (my favorite player) jersey to wear with it. We went home, put the costume and face paint on and left for Oakland. As I was walking into the stadium, the first super fan I saw was the Violator. We then ran into Spike, who named me Skull Lady.
From that point on I have been dressing up as Skull Lady. I have only missed one Raiders home game since I bought my season tickets in 2000. Over the years I have had so many great experiences being Skull Lady.
I have traveled to many stadiums: Tennessee, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, and even England.
I love going to the away games and meeting Raiders fans from all over the world. I have met so many people that have touched my life. They have put me in magazines like Sports Illustrated, People, and Lowrider. My picture was in the book with the Raiders players the year we went to the American Football Conference playoffs with the Tennessee Titans. They have put me in several commercials and they even put my picture in the Hall of Fame. (That was an honor.)
One of my favorite memories was when my mom painted her face, along with my sister, sister-in-law, niece Nicole (aka Skull Baby), and a friend. Everyone loved that three generations of female Raiders fans went to the game.
Our seats are in front of the Raiderettes. Over the years I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of these girls. During a game in Oakland, my favorite Raiderette, Adrianne, aka Mama, told me not to leave after the game and that she had something for me. After the game was over, she walked up to me and started crying. She said that this was her last year of cheering and that she was retiring and wanted me to have these; she handed me her pom-poms. I was so excited that I left the stadium cheering with those pom-poms all the way into the parking lot. Everyone must have thought I was crazy because the Raiders had just lost the game.
As Skull Lady, I have been involved in charity work, from golf tournament to 5k runs, to helping disabled veterans to fighting cancer. My favorite charity is the Children's Tumor Foundation. This one hits close to home because my niece, Dakota, was born with a tumor on her brain and diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF) when she was a baby. Our family is very involved with this charity to help find a cure.
I go to every Raiders game with my brother and my dad and we begin our tailgate five hours before game time. My favorite thing to do at tailgates is to paint up the little kids in the parking lot. I have had parents bring their kids (now teenagers) and show me pictures of my painting their faces at their first Raiders game.
I had one experience where a lady walked up to me and showed me a picture of me sitting on the lap of an older gentleman in a wheel chair. I told her I remember taking that picture on his birthday. She told me that he had passed away and one of his last favorite memories was meeting Skull Lady at a Raiders game. They had that picture on the board at his funeral. I never realized that dressing up at a Raiders game would ever lead to so many positive experiences and touch so many peoples' lives in such a positive way.
My goal as a Raiders fan is to make every fan enjoy the Raiders experience, from the tailgate to the actual game. We are the most loyal fans in the world and I love my Raiders family.