The Eighth Man

Becca DuPont: 2012 Sportswoman of the Year

For her leadership both on and off the pitch, Becca DuPont has earned the title of 2012 Sportswoman of the Year. Credit: Lauren Carter

For her leadership both on and off the pitch, Becca DuPont has earned the title of 2012 Sportswoman of the Year. Credit: Lauren Carter

With the year coming to a close, the staff of The Eighth Man is pleased to announce the winners of our award for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year. Candidates were nominated by our staff, and then voted on. No criteria for the awards were given, the voters were free to define it however they chose to. We will announce the winner of Sportsman of the Year next week.

 

How do you define a leader in quidditch? You can look to captains, but many just end up with the title because they are the founders of or longest-tenured members on their team. You can look to elite players, but some are quiet, some are selfish, and some prefer to make their mark on the field.

 

Then, there is the rare quidditch player who exudes leadership qualities with everything they do in the community, both on the field and off. Texas A&M’s Becca DuPont, from her role as a chaser for A&M to her role as Southwest Regional Director, has proven time and again that she is indeed a true leader, and the work she has done has earned her recognition as The Eighth Man’s 2012 Sportswoman of the Year.

 

“Her leadership and game play are the epitome of what this sport is about,” Marquette University’s Curtis Taylor said.

 

Becca joined Texas A&M Quidditch in the Fall of 2010, the beginning of her freshman year, and immediately made quidditch a top priority in her life. She made nearly every practice, was always helping with fundraisers or volunteer events, and attended every tournament the team went to. In the Fall of 2011, she took on the role of Director of Operations for the organization –  essentially another title for Vice President, and she helped Texas A&M reach the semifinals of World Cup V and ultimately take home 3rd place. At the turn of the new year, it was easy to see that her drive and passion were setting her up to do some big things in the quidditch world in 2012.

 

The first of those things was becoming the Southwest Regional Director, where she exceeded all expectations. I remember when she was first applying for the role. She was extremely nervous and felt under-qualified, but I told her that her passion for quidditch and desire to help made her more than capable.

 

Without a doubt, that has rung true in the past year. The Southwest prior to Becca taking on the Regional Director role was relatively unorganized, lacked any sort of unity or camaraderie, and had a poor reputation around the quidditch community.

 

But Becca was willing and eager to change all of that. She created the Southwest Region Facebook group, and then facilitated productive conversation to begin a movement towards regional unity. She also made sure to keep the players actively involved, giving them Players a chance to help make decisions and provided input that they knew was genuinely being heard.

 

Everyone knew Becca would fight to make sure the Southwest’s opinions were being considered on an international level. But she took it a step further, and really made an effort to get to know everyone and help them on a more personal level. I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I have seen her talking to and reaching out to people in the community. She has a kindness and sincerity that is truly inspirational. At every tournament Becca attends, she is always going around and talking to individuals or teams, trying to reach out to as many people as possible

 

“She keeps good contact with teams and makes her presence known, but certainly not unbearably known, in the Southwest,” LSU’s Sarah Kneiling said.

 

Her character has helped foster a shift in attitude for the entire region, turning a group of independent teams with tenuous relationships into a friendly, respectful and supportive community.

 

Perhaps Becca’s biggest accomplishment as Regional Director was the membership push that in the end earned the region seven World Cup VI spots though number of official members and 10 spots total – an entire sixth of the total pool.

 

“Her high level of effective involvement [as Southwest Regional Director] was highlighted during the IQA official membership signups, especially in the days leading up to the deadline to be counted for world cup spots,” Kneiling said. “Regions with highly involved regional directors gained the most spots, and the Southwest did especially well, thanks to Becca constantly checking the sheet and keeping teams informed of what pieces of registration they had or had not turned in yet.”

 

Becca has also taken over as the President of Texas A&M Quidditch. She is doing a fantastic job of maintaining the legacy of the organization that those of us that have graduated left behind, and she is pushing for changes where needed that will improve the groundwork already put down. She doesn’t fear change, and she is actually doing great at adapting to it and making decisions that will sustain the organization well into the future and not just be successful in the short term.

DuPont has quickly earned a reputation as one of the country's chasers of any gender. Credit: Lauren Carter

DuPont has quickly earned a reputation as one of the country’s chasers of any gender. Credit: Lauren Carter

As impressive as Becca is off the pitch, she may be even more impressive on it.

 

“Becca is a force on the field,” said Taylor, who played against her recently at the Collegiate Cup. “As a chaser, she is always in the right place at the right time. Her movement is what you want out of your girl chasers, and her finishing is that of a seasoned pro. What sets Becca apart is her ability to take a hit and even give one. She’s not afraid of any player on the field, and her confidence is contagious. Lastly, Becca plays a game with a skill and respect that all players should. She is truthful with bludger hits, tackles cleanly, and praises those on field that do the same.”

 

I have seen Becca grow into such an amazing player in her time at Texas A&M, but this past year she really hit her stride and developed a confidence anyone would be envious of. Making all of this even more impressive is the fact that she has almost no competitive sports experience prior to quidditch. She was in marching band in high school, and her only team sports experience derives from some volleyball in middle school.

 

But the way she can now play the game, you would never guess, largely because of the incredible amount of effort she has put in to become the player she is today. Not only has she dedicated herself to giving 100 percent in every practice and game, no matter the stakes, but she’s put in many hours working out outside of quidditch to build up her strength, speed and stamina to get to where she is now.

 

“Through all of my travels I can’t name four players better than she is, male or female,” University of Kansas’ Ronnell Sharp said. She is headstrong and fearless on the pitch and her team absorbs that swag. Becca is a major part of why A&M is the best team in quidditch.”

 

Becca is the type of player that inspires you to work harder when you compete on the field alongside her. She never gives up on a difficult game, instead harnessing her frustration in those situations and rising to the occasion by making big plays and motivating her teammates to do the same.

 

“[Becca] embodies what the term “team player” should mean. Not just a person who isn’t selfish with the ball (which I think is most people’s definition of the word), but a person who does everything she can do to be the best player she can be for the sake of her team, and not for her own personal glory,” said University of Texas’ Jacob Adlis, who chose her for the green team at the Southwest Fantasy Tournament and then named her chaser captain. The team finished second.

DuPont has always been willing to travel for quidditch, and attended this year's Western Cup as a mercenary member of the Utah Crimson Fliers. Credit: Lauren Carter

DuPont has always been willing to travel for quidditch, and attended this year’s Western Cup as a mercenary member of the Utah Crimson Fliers. Credit: Monica Wheeler

On and off the pitch, Becca is a true leader and role model to more people than I think she realizes. She has never sought out this type of recognition, but she deserves it regardless for her passion, hard work and dedication towards making quidditch a long-lasting sport. It has been an honor to play on the same team as her for two years, being inspired by her attitude daily. The is no doubt that she is setting the bar very high for future Sportswomen of the Year.

 

“Whether it’s studying opponents’ strategies, hosting tournaments, training to get in peak physical condition, or taking leadership roles in the IQA, Becca does it all without any expectation of fame,” Adlis said. “That is an admirable quality indeed, and one for which she deserves to be recognized.”

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