The Eighth Man

Pace-setter: Shifting the Beater Gender Paradigm

For the past four years, Hallie Pace has been making a name for herself as one of the best beaters in quidditch. At a time when more and more top teams are switching to two-male beater sets, this season, Pace is serving as anchor on the most competitive two-female beater set that quidditch has seen. To kick off our series highlighting women in the sport, we sat down with Pace to discuss her experiences as a beater and a Longhorn.

Joshua Mansfield: Hello, thanks for agreeing to interview with me today. The Eighth Man is currently doing a series highlighting influential women in quidditch, and your name came up as someone who is doing big things in the sport.
Hallie Pace: Hi Josh, I’ve been looking forward to doing this interview. I really appreciate whoever put my hat in the ring for this opportunity! University of Texas has been such a big part of my life, so it’s exciting to know that is recognizable.

Courtesy: Hallie Pace

JM: You’ve been involved with the Texas program for four years now. Tell me what got you interested in the team, and what it was like coming into a team in the middle of one of the most successful legacies in the sport.
HP: My older brother, Paden Pace or “half shirt,” had been playing quidditch for three semesters before I came to the University of Texas, two of which were spent on Texas Quidditch. My family can be a bit unorthodox when it comes to supporting each other, so during these three semesters my parents dragged me to just about every tournament in which Texas played. As almost everybody in the quidditch community can confirm, quidditch can be pretty addicting, and it definitely had me hooked before I actually began playing. Once I started I, of course, noticed there was already a very established team dynamic between the veteran players. Because my brother was still playing on the team during my first year, it wasn’t too tough to feel like I was part of the team. I already had a friend before the season started.

JM: Tell me about your background in sports before playing quidditch. Were any of those sports mixed-gender or was quidditch your first foray into a co-ed sport?
HP: Before quidditch I played basketball, softball and was a captain for my high school cheerleading team. When I was much younger I played on co-ed baseball and basketball teams, but I would definitely say quidditch is my first real taste of all that co-ed sports have to offer.

JM: How did your previous sports background prepare you to join a team as competitive as Texas?
HP: My time with Texas has been quite different from any sports experience I had ever had before. In high school, the coaches were our main source of motivation for working out, but college club sports don’t have as much authoritative presence, which meant the motivation had to come from something else. Because the team was already a success story, the veterans already knew what it would take to win and reminded the rest of the team about it frequently. Their reminders helped me to adapt to the self-motivated atmosphere, and I think I owe a big chunk of my work ethic today to that first season on this team.

JM: Coming from a traditional sports background, how does your experience as a woman in quidditch compare?
HP: I guess I should start by saying my experience in the sport has been a pretty dynamic one. In the beginning of my quidditch career, the female beater positionminus a few lady superstarshad been established as more of a supportive role. This type of role was one that I was comfortable with as I was never seen as the star player in previous sports but, rather, a behind-the-scenes part. As quidditch continues to evolve, my position is beginning to be recognized as more than that. With this growth, I have begun to realize that co-ed sports have much more to offer than the sports I’ve previously played. Females in this sport have a large opportunity to show the level of athleticism women have to offer. With that being said, there is also some backlash to be faced when stepping into a primary role in a sport which is still composed of mostly male players. These are things that I never had the opportunity to experience in my previous sports background, and they’ve increased my level of appreciation for quidditch as a whole.

Credit: Sofia de la Vega

JM: Moving forward, do you think there’s still progress to be made for women in quidditch, either in your own surroundings or the sport at large?
HP: In my experience on a winning team, having women that can change the game is pretty important and it makes strategizing that much easier. One change that should be made is for teams to understand this advantage and begin to utilize these women as much as possible in order to better themselves and better the level of competition in the sport.

JM: This season, Texas became somewhat renowned for its revival of the long-ignored strategy of playing a two-female beater set, oftentimes thanks to your talent anchoring the duo. To the extent that you can, could you explain what led you and the team to decide to return to that set? How is your experience playing in it?
HP: I think the strategy originally was a result of the captains and coaches wanting to show off our talent in the male-chaser department and trusting the female beaters to hold our own. From there I believe our leadership was slightly surprised at just how well the female beater set did, both offensively and defensively. I personally was stoked to be given the chance to play a more aggressive role on the pitch, as well as the opportunity to give a different look to the sport. The set has definitely pushed me and all of our girl beaters to be at our best more often than before, which was a pressure that I didn’t necessarily expect. Pressure aside, it’s been a pretty fun opportunity to shake up the sport a little bit.

JM: Thank you again for meeting with me. Do you have anything else to add?
HP: Thanks for having me. Overall, I think the sport has grown and changed a lot this year, and I’m just really excited to see the level of competition, regardless of gender, at Nationals!

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