Women's History Month Spotlights

To honor the women that came before us in quidditch and to hopefully inspire those that will come after, we reached out to a few women who make this sport as wonderful as it is in order to ask them to talk about their experiences in quidditch.

Women’s History Month can trace its beginnings back to Santa Rosa, California. In 1978, The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration. This week was chosen because March 8 was already International Women’s Day. The movement quickly spread as other communities held their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year. In 1980, the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women's History Alliance) lobbied for Women’s History Week to be celebrated on a national scale. President Jimmy Carter signed the first proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In 1981, Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Over the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” 

These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the often-overlooked achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. Two women who were instrumental in the establishment of Women’s History Month were Molly Murphy MacGregor and Mary Ruthsdotter.  Ms. MacGregor is one of the co-founders of the National Women's History Project, which became the National Women's History Alliance. Ms. Ruthsdotter was a feminist activist who co-founded the National Women's History Project, for which she produced curriculum guides, teacher training programs, and videos on women’s history. She played an influential role in obtaining Congressional resolutions and Presidential proclamations designating Women's History Week and later, Women's History Month.

To honor the women that came before us in quidditch and to hopefully inspire those that will come after, we reached out to a few women who make this sport as wonderful as it is in order to ask them to talk about their experiences in quidditch. 

Brittany Lee joined the quidditch community in 2018 when she started playing for Boston University Quidditch. She is also a volunteer for Major League Quidditch’s special projects team.

Caitie Probst joined quidditch in 2013 when she transferred to Lockhaven University. After graduating, Caitie took a short break from quidditch before Philadelphia Freedom blossomed as a team. Caitie dove right back into quidditch and became the General Manager for her team. She was elected as Head Coach for the upcoming season. 

Ellie Lisec is a current captain for RPI Quidditch and has played on two different MLQ teams (Rochester Whiteout in 2019 and New York Titans in 2020). She was also a member of the USNT Developmental Academy. Ellie is also proud to be AR certified! 

Payton Gallery has been on Iowa Quidditch for almost four years now. 

Sequoia Thomas started to be involved in quidditch back in 2010, where she started the Utah Crimson Flyers after talking to the captain of another local team. Sequoia also became actively involved in the referee scene after being inspired by the referees she saw at the first unofficial Western Cup. She canceled a trip to a Harry Potter convention to go to QuidCon in 2012, where she became part of the first class of certified refs.After that, she became involved in IQA with the Referee Development Team where she worked on creating training materials for quidditch referees. She also served as Executive Director for the International Referee Development Program. 

How do you believe being a woman has shaped your experience in quidditch? 

“I feel like being a woman in this sport has made me try harder. It's given me added incentive to prove myself and make my presence known.” - Brittany

“For the majority of my freshman year I was very much put into a box for my role on the team as a female chaser, this is something that has been slowly improving with awareness. My job was to solely play behind hoops and be in the right spot to score when they were ready to pass to me. This led to our female chasers being some of our top scorers which on the outside may look like a positive but was actually a negative in that our current skills were being underutilized and it stunted the development of new skills by doing the same thing over and over again. One thing I want to emphasize is this leads to boredom and if you are not challenging your players or teammates they might not want to come to practice or even play anymore.” - Ellie

“My team has a tendency to never play more than 2 female/non binary athletes at a time, so I get less play time and feel the pressure that if I drop a pass or miss a goal, it might be my only shot in the whole game. On one hand, that motivates me to work harder, but it would be nice if I didn't have to work twice as hard to get on the field.” - Payton

“It is more difficult to be a female and non-binary referee, and especially a fememine presenting one because you are, for many societal reasons, taken less seriously. Any mistakes made by  female and non-binary referees are held against them for a lot longer than they are for male referees.” - Sequoia 

Do you have anything to say to the women who are just starting out in the sport or are interested in trying?

“My advice to women just starting is to go for it. Don't feel intimidated by the full-contact aspect. I was unjustly nervous about it when I started, and now I feel confident in my ability to take down someone twice my size.” - Brittany

“ Give it a shot! There’s a place for almost everyone here and you don’t have to be super competitive or a super hardcore nerd to find where you fit.” - Caitie

“It can be intimidating playing against people twice your size, but being successful in this sport is not determined by your size or your gender. A quote I was always told as a kid which is still relevant now is ‘it's not about how big you are, it's how big you play’.” - Ellie

“It's not a perfect sport or community, but it is worth it to play! A ton of people are working to increase equality, and this is still the only sport that lets you brag about tackling guys twice your size. Advocate for yourself and your abilities, because you deserve to play just as much as anyone else.” - Payton

How have the other women in the sport impacted you?

“My female and gender nonconforming teammates on Philadelphia Freedom have inspired me. From an organization outlook, I admire Sarah Woolsey for the way she has progressed this sport. I also think Mary Kimball is doing a wonderful job.” - Caitie

“There are so many strong women in this sport who are great role models for women just starting out. I try to take aspects of their play style and morph it into my own. Play defense like Kaci Erwin, shoot like Julia Baer, have driving vision like Lindsay Marella, and on field leadership like Rachel Heald. Along with that I was able to play strong RPI women as well like Morgan Bertram, who took me under her wing her senior year and taught me so much, and Fiona Wisehart, who has so much drive for the sport and cared so much for everyone's success on the team.” - Ellie

“I really look up to all of the women I've met through quidditch. Iowa had all-female leadership my freshman year, which was so important for having a more equal team that first year. Our founder Lily Neumann helped me grow as a leader, athlete, and person, even helping me plan our tournament after she graduated. She was truly a mentor for me in quidditch. I also got to attend the Great Lakes Femme Fatale, where I learned so much to improve how I played and moved on field.” - Payton

“The referees, the players, every person involved in this sport who is female and non-binary has taught me that I can actually do anything a male person can do. Especially these powerhouse feminine women who are playing in this sport at the level OR HIGHER than their male counterparts. They taught me that I can have confidence in myself and that is not something to shy away from or be afraid of.” - Sequoia

How has your experience in quidditch shaped your life outside of the sport?

“Quidditch has improved my confidence so much in my day-to-day life. This sport helped me discover just how strong I am. It also gave me a home away from home in my team” - Brittany

“As a college student, we are always thinking about future internships and jobs. Quidditch is a topic that has been brought up in job interviews because it is something I am passionate about which leads to very relaxed conversation for the rest of the interview. Through this sport I have met people all around the United States and even in Canada who I feel comfortable contacting not only in respect to quidditch but also in a network situation or to ask questions about their job experiences and location.” - Ellie

“ When I decided to be on leadership for my team, I also decided to make quidditch a central part of my time in college. I've learned to lead, listen, organize, and plan well enough to keep my team running, and those skills are all useful for my future profession. Quidditch has given me some of my best friends (including my roommate of over 3 years) and allowed me to travel. I almost always manage to relate things back to quidditch because it's easily my favorite thing I do.” - Payton

“Quidditch has allowed me to network with and interact with people from all over the world. It has also given me the opportunity to work on cross-continental projects. But the main thing that I have retained from quidditch, are the friendships I have been able to build.” - Sequoia

What is your favorite quidditch memory?

“I have so many cherished quidditch memories. It's hard to choose just one, but the top part of the list would definitely include my first dogpile after a win. After the snitch catch, we all ran out and piled on top of each other on the pitch. That was the moment I realized how close I would become with my teammates.” - Brittany

“Oh gosh I have so many! Maybe my last regionals with Lockhaven in fall 2015. Throughout the season we had scrimmaged with Penn State, but was never able to beat them. We had a game against them that regional tournament and we were able to beat them!” - Caitie

“My favorite quidditch memory is being selected for the USNTDA and being able to spend a week playing with and learning from some of the most talented players in the US.” - Ellie

“2019 Midwest Regionals was really incredible. Iowa won three games on day one, and I think those were our first ever official wins. After putting in so much work to improve, it felt amazing to finally get a win. I'll never forget the image of my teammates running screaming to congratulate our seeker when that first win was called good.” -Payton

“My favorite quidditch memory was when I refereed the western regional finals between UCLA and the Lost Boys. It was the first major game that I had taken on and it was the first time where I left the field and was like ‘This is something that I am good at’”. - Sequoia

Anything you’d like to add or shout out?

“I want to shout out the female and non-binary people who are in the sport who I see and feel inspired by. Including: Alicia Radford, Amanda Dallas, and Rachel Heald.” - Sequoia

“I would like to thank everyone who saw potential in me, worked with me and took the time to answer my many many questions. I am very grateful for everyone who put effort into making me a better player” - Ellie

“I want to shout out Jonyull Kosinski, the person who got me involved in quidditch.” - Caitie

“I want to shout out my BUQ family. Love you fam!” - Brittany

Best pump up song before you play/or volunteer/ref/snitch?

“I usually play Taylor Swift, which is why my team never lets me have the aux!” - Payton

“I don't really listen to music while I am at tournaments. When we are down for brooms, all I can think about is Lightning Mcqueen from Cars before a race saying ‘I am speed’ so that repeats in my head too.” - Ellie

“Erybody But Me by Tech 9 and Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj.” - Caitie

“I have a whole pump-up playlist, but the top three songs would be Stigmata by Grandson, Bodies by Drowning Pool, and Motivated by NF.” - Brittany

We want to thank those who were able to talk to us about their experiences in quidditch. We also want to thank every woman who has contributed to quidditch, whether it be by playing, coaching, refereeing, or organizing. We would not be where we are today without all of you.

Editor’s note: USQ would like to acknowledge that the majority of women interviewed for this article, as well as those they mention as positive influences, are white. We understand that it is on us as an organization to continue making strides towards improving the experience of women of color in this sport, so that their experiences are highlighted more and centered in these conversations. For more information about USQ’s efforts in this area, please see the diversity, equity, and inclusion page on our website or email diversity@usquidditch.org.