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Columbia Renegades Quidditch Scholarship

Columbia Renegades Quidditch announces a new BIPOC player scholarship.

In July 2020, USQ adopted seven pillars for this season’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work. Those pillars not only guide decisions and focus for the league, but have been encouraged to guide teams and their operation as well. Aligning with Columbia College Chicago's mission for diversity and inclusion and USQ’s DEI pillars, the Columbia Renegades Quidditch team is creating an academic scholarship for one freshman Black, Indigenous, or non-Black Person of Color (BIPOC) player every season starting in 2021.  To learn more about this new initiative, USQ reached out to Coach Tad Walters and Captains Niko Banks and Rylie Smedley.

Share a bit about what inspired this scholarship initiative.

Tad: "It was a combination of recently listening to BIPOC players speak about their experiences in their programs and constantly brainstorming ways to increase recruitment at a small liberal arts private school. I’m hoping the scholarship will not only incentivize BIPOC students to try out for the quidditch team at Columbia, but also am hoping it incentivizes them to be leaders on and off the pitch. I want any future students to know that on the Renegades quidditch team they are always welcome and will always have their voices heard. True equality in this sport will come from all players having equal opportunities at all of the different positions on and off the field while also being held to the same standards.  I’m proud to coach for a program with an extremely welcoming, competitive, and progressive team culture started by Ben Peachey, Ally Manzella, and many others, and is being continued by current captains Niko Banks and Rylie Smedley."

Niko: "We are living through an extraordinary time. People are reaccessing how we, as people, can strive to be better. This scholarship is meant as a step in the direction of meaningful change. This scholarship shows not only that we are listening to problems, but proposing solutions for the future and investing in the BIPOC community."

Tell us more about the process to get a scholarship like this started with your school. 

Tad: "It started with emailing the club advisor at Columbia, Monique Maye. Through her, I was referred to Brice Kanzer, the senior director of development of the university, with the idea. It was really fortunate for us that both Brice and Dirk Matthews, senior director of alumni relations, were both extremely enthusiastic about the venture and quickly set up several meetings to discuss specifics and create a game plan. There are different kinds of scholarships funds, with different strengths and weaknesses. We opted to create an endowment, which at Columbia takes more funds to start but also continues to grow over time. We’re hoping that the growth of the endowment combined with the growth of the Columbia team and it’s alumni network will create a sustainable scholarship for years to come."

What expenses are you hoping this scholarship will help cover for the recipient?

Tad: "The base plan right now is for the scholarship to be awarded every year to a freshman after their first semester. It will be a small academic scholarship of $3,500 or $500 a semester for the next 7 semesters, to go towards offsetting the costs of studying at Columbia. Columbia already covers many costs associated with quidditch including equipment and travel, but as we become a more competitive team and start trying to travel out of the region more, it’s not out of the question that the scholarship could also provide a small stipend to go towards those costs."

Rylie: "Our team fundraises hard in hopes of offsetting any fees that could discourage players from joining. However, this is an added incentive and as the team grows could pay for any fees that come up within that."

When are you hoping to hit your fundraising goal of $25,000?

Tad: "Since most scholarships similar to this at the university start with one large donation, to be built on by large alumni donations, we’re in a unique position in that we’re crowdfunding for that “large” donation. Our current goal is to reach at least $10,000 on our GoFundMe by the end of the year. From there we’ll donate that to Columbia to officially form the scholarship at the university, and then that’s we’re hoping it’ll gain more publicity in the mainstream and in Columbia’s alumni network and raise the rest of the funds by July 2021."

What DEI pillars is your team focusing on for the upcoming season?

Rylie: "Some of our major focuses for this upcoming season are equity and inclusion. Equity is something our team has been working on a lot the past season and plan to continue to, especially within our university community. Last season, and I believe this coming year as well, our university had panels on equity and inclusion that the whole team was invited to participate in. Part of equity is making sure everyone gets a chance to play, even if just for a short time. It’s important for anyone at any skill level to feel a part of the team and it allows players to make advancements as they become more comfortable on the field and around their team. Another part of accomplishing our goals for inclusion is by creating a welcoming community through team bonding exercises: watching game films together, playing in our schools Turkey Bowl, and doing potlucks together. Our recruitment events have been cancelled so we will be working from a different angle (possibly through our Columbia app which reaches the entire school population) once we have more information on what is and isn’t allowed from Columbia as far as recruitment and retention go."

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

To learn more about this scholarship or to donate, please click here. For questions, please email tad.walters1@gmail.com.

USQ Mission Moment

USQ’s vision statement shares that “we envision a future where every person in the United States is aware of quidditch as a sport and has opportunities to play and engage at all levels.” We are proud of the work that the Columbia Renegades Quidditch team is doing to further opportunities for individuals, more specifically BIPOC individuals, to be part of our sport. If your team would like to have USQ spotlight any DEI work that you are focusing on this season, please reach out to diversity@usquidditch.org

Additionally, USQ’s development team is currently planning fundraising initiatives for the 2020-21 season, one of which will be DEI related. More details on this program will be shared later this season.