Readers of this blog in its prior incarnation may remember the periodic feature “Meet Your Militia“, a series of informal interviews with players. That features continues now as “Renegade Recon”, since my original title (“Reconnoiter Your Renegades!”) was met with firm disapproval. Whatever, haters. So! Let’s do this thing.
Confession: when I first learned that we were having a breakaway banner made (one of those big vinyl things that people are supposed to burst through in dramatic fashion), I didn’t like the idea at all. I felt like with our beyond-limited budget, there were lots of higher-priority things…but mostly I kinda thought it would make us look like pompous jerks. There’s a line between confident and cocky, and I felt like this could easily appear to be over that line. But hey – not my call, and not a big enough deal to make a fuss about.
At the first game, I spent pretty much the entire time working and saw almost nothing of the game itself. But I wanted to watch my team take the field for the first time in this crazy improbable and did I mention crazy season, so I walked to where I could see the field. A few people were holding that goofy breakaway banner and I cringed a little inside. I expected a swarm of Renegades to descend on the banner, but instead, one player ran out alone. I was on the other end of the field and didn’t recognize her immediately – I actually had to check our roster to see who it was: Sue Quimby.
Sue Quimby? This was not one of our rock star players. This was not one of the 2015 season captains. This was not someone who had played for Boston throughout our illustrious career as a powerhouse team. This was a redacted -year-old suburban mom of two who hadn’t stepped onto a football field in over a decade. I processed that for a moment, and as I watched her leap through the Renegades banner and lead the team onto the field, all my apprehension turned to admiration. Sending Sue Quimby out in this role was the first public statement made by the Boston Renegades; I asked a good friend of mine on the team to give me some background on how that came about:
Sue was decided on because she played forever ago with the [New England] Storm. She left, got married, had two kids and came back. She broke her nose at practice and came back. Had a calf tear and came back. We figured, who better to represent what we are all about?
There’s a lot that’s really hard about this season, and there’s a lot that I wish were different. But as I watched Sue take the field, followed by so many amazing players, I thought Holy crap – we’re doing this. WE’RE doing this. This is us. This is who I want us to be.In a bitterly ironic turn of events, after working so hard to get back on the field after so many years, Sue badly injured her knee in the game against Central Maryland and will be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. But I am convinced that football isn’t done with Sue yet, even if her participation doesn’t look like what she thought it would be. On that note, let’s meet the woman that the Renegades chose to represent them as they introduced themselves to the world. Before the Renegades this year, I played in 2003 for the New England Storm out of Medford. I had planned on playing again the following year but the team disbanded and then life got in the way – I was working for two different police departments putting in long hours, I got married, and then I started having babies. I thought my playing days were over. Last fall my son started playing tackle football and I caught the fever again. I wanted to be out on the field like he was! In knew it would be tough to juggle everything, but nothing worth while in life comes easy! Both my kids play flag football in a co-ed league. At times, my six year old daughter was the only girl at the U6 level. Thankfully, she doesn’t care! Also thankfully, I see lots of girls playing in the older divisions. I think today there is a lot more acceptance for girls in any sport. But there is still negative feedback out there which is sad. I still hear little boys say to each other, “That team has a GIRL,” when they see my daughter out there. Its sad. Of course she just does her job and scores touchdowns and pulls flags so she thinks that is all funny! Which is perfect. I love telling the story about when I played in an after school flag football league when I was 11 (so we are talking 1984ish). There were no adult coaches, we just played and a teacher supervised. My good friend (a boy) was the team captain. I repeatedly asked him if I could be one of the two allowed “rushers” and go after the opposing QB. He kept ignoring me and finally said in the huddle, “Sue, girls don’t play football!” I was crushed! How could my good friend doubt me! So that next play I hung back in the secondary, watched the QB and picked off the pass and ran it back the length of the field for a touchdown. My friend apologized immediately, “I guess girls DO play football!” I think girls and women are just always going to have to prove themselves. But that’s ok, we are up to the task! When I came back to playing this year, the biggest thing I learned was that there are some AMAZING female football players around here! The calibre of play is above and beyond what I remembered. These women on the Renegades are serious! And they are not just physically talented, but they really know the game and all its nuances. I am totally impressed! There are a few ways that I feel supported as a football player. The first are the amazing women who took over this team this winter and made the season happen for us. They have put in so much effort into getting us on the field! Then there are all the coaches. These men and women are awesome and show such a huge dedication to their players. Finally, all the support I received from the players, coaches, and owners after all my injuries has been amazing. I have always just showed up at work outs and practices, through the injuries, despite all of my family and work committments because I felt like that is what was expected of all players. I was surprised when people took notice of this. It really made me feel appreciated. I would just love for the sport of womens football to grow and thrive. Getting more fans and publicity of course would be great, but we don’t play for any kind of notoriaty. We play because we love the sport. Unfortunately, its not like playing basketball where you can join a pick up league or running where you can sign up for local road races. Football requires a LOT of people and a lot of time practicing together – a true team sport. It requires a lot of organization and money. Financial support is what is needed most. Bastille, Pompeii. “But if you close your eyes/Does it almost feel like/Nothing changed at all?”
A lot has changed, but when we keep on winning, has anything really changed?