by Sarah Goad
Editor’s note: This is somewhere between an op-ed and a reflective piece. Any inaccuracies are inaccurate because I’ve had too many concussions and don’t remember precisely what happened and/or—in the case of bureaucratic nonsense at USQ—because I was a basic member of volunteer staff and didn’t quite know what was going on above me.
When people ask how long I’ve been involved in quidditch—which is a question that inevitably arises if I talk to someone new long enough—all I usually do is crinkle up my forehead so these age lines get real obvious and say “Long enough.” I have a secret for you people: I know I look like an ageless beauty with an ass that won’t quit, but I’m old as dirt. Seriously, y’all—I’m not as old as some of the people we have hangin’ around this sport—here’s looking at you, Quidditch Over the Hill—but I’m old enough to get hurt every other time I go out to a tournament. Dan Shapiro has probably got it right: he just retired, and he’s two years younger than me.
I’ve been playing quidditch since 2011, and I’ve been involved in quidditch media since the Quidditch Lens was alive and kickin’. Younger, more ambitious me likely thought it would look good on a resume or something; I was an English major and wanted to plump up my extracurriculars since I was getting a degree in reading books and talking shit, and these days people don’t give you a job just ‘cause you can throw some shade.
Yet here I am with a whole lot of shade to throw, the right degree to make the words sound real pretty, and no desire to put any of this on my resume. Let’s get down.
Early 2013 to mid-2015
Copy Editor & Staff Writer
I applied to be a copy editor sometime in early 2013 because I’m a masochist who likes to torture herself. I remember interviewing with Andy Marmer, who was brought on in January of that year, for a copy editor position and feeling nervous. Lol.
Anyway, I got the position, because despite a lackadaisical approach, I can be a good copy editor when I try (and they were desperate). By April 2013, I was hired in copy, but also as a staff writer, penning such illustrious pieces as “Quidditch Tattoos,” in which 1) I ask Duston Mazzella about his big, black beater bat 😉 and 2) there are zero accompanying photos of the tattoos. Quality stuff.
Copy editing was just as much of a clusterfuck as staff writing, but that fault was probably shared: my own for being inexperienced and my managers’ for not training me. While my managers did not teach me, they also probably never learned how to do their own jobs correctly. Failure breeds failure. It’s cyclical and, unfortunately, has been the norm for as long as I’ve been volunteering.
Negligently trained, I performed negligent copy editing. I never really read USQ’s style guide or followed it since at the time I was working as a writing and grammar tutor at college and I assumed, as all twenty-somethings do, that I knew everything.
Really, I was just flirting and making word art. You’re welcome to all who were affected and ayyyy to all who flirted back. Also, I was so new to the community, I had no context for who any of those people were, just that most of them didn’t know much about punctuation. Jamie LaParis? Stephen DiCarlisle? The fuck are they and why is Stephen on a reality show? So clueless. Can’t be bothered, bruh.
Eventually, I stopped writing and just copy edited. I sort of did the nose-goes thing for a while and let slightly less inebriated people than myself do all the work, especially during that power “shift” at USQ. Awkward. I don’t remember a whole lot about this time period, just that Andy, Lindsay Garten, David Hoops, and Amanda Dallas were playing chicken over who was the *~MOST~* in charge.
Not cute. Not my problem.
I barely worked for a year and still got to eavesdrop on some hot goss and scribble down some volunteer experience. What up.
The Quidditch Post
Mid-2014 to mid-2016
Editorial Director, South Regional Editor, & Chief Quality Officer
Sometime in 2014, USQ decided that its editorial department wasn’t going to actually, y’know, editorialize much anymore. This, it seems, was thanks in large part to Dallas gathering her baes into T8M (I don’t know how that staff does it; Dallas both barely spoke to and somehow managed to scare the shit out of me during my brief stint on her staff) and throwing up major deuces as she resigned the position of editorial manager at USQ. I’ve been told more than a handful of times during frustrated, late-night Skype recollections what exactly took place during that awkward, bickering transitional period. Whether intentional or no, there was a standoff of sorts between independent quidditch media and USQ, but it was both boring and complicated, and not nearly as much fun to talk about as the word “standoff” implies. I know Dallas offered some kind of T8M position to Andy, which he turned down. I believe Lindsay received an offer, as well, but she did not accept. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to remember since it’s drama I wasn’t directly involved in.
I know that Andy said some mean things during a conference call and received a very conciliatory email from Benepe telling him he was being let go from USQ. Andy, Lindsay, Kristin Backert, and I started QP on the sly. I stayed on at USQ and didn’t do anything for as long as possible just to see how long it would take them to terminate me. Needless to say, it took months.
At QP, I copy edited what I wanted and had nearly no responsibilities but held the title of Editorial Director. Typical SG: upholding the tradition of letting far more dedicated persons than she do everything while she leans back to drink in the glory!
When Kristin went back to school, I had to actually start making shit happen. This is when I started working 40 hours a week. I mentioned I was a masochist, right? In a way it was perfect. I found fulfillment in volunteering for the first time by partnering with Paulina Pascal—who is a bad bitch and was my co-director for almost a year—to write an organizational style guide and more. I worked too much, but I was having a real effect on the dissemination of quidditch media for the first time ever.
I decided it was a good idea to take up another position concurrently by becoming South Regional Editor. Which was fine, really, since my fam below the Mason-Dixon never does much of anything. So I wrote like, two articles. Sorry, dolls, you know I love most of you. Good thing I’m moving up north where I hear everyone’s as big a dick as I am.
At the end of a very long year and a half, my motivation started to fizzle. I was frustrated as hell because no one seemed to realize we weren’t moving quickly enough or publishing content the community wanted to read; QP Comics do not a happy reader make, and my opinions felt undervalued. I applied for a C-suite position and, after an interview process spanning an excessive amount of time, was promoted. I thought I was at last in a place to confront the tantamount issues I’d openly questioned but had not yet been given the power to resolve.
My months on the C-suite were unhappy. Finally at the top, I pushed for standardization of content quality, departmental competencies, training workshops, and manager training, things I had fought for since I was Editorial Director but now had the power to introduce and enforce. Some of these projects were successful-ish considering I wasn’t around long enough to ensure middle management spread them, but I guess I’m glad I left knowing I tried.
After over a year of nonstop work, my anxiety was through the roof, and I was tired of having little say in the content QP produced. A few final conversations occurred in which I requested creative freedoms to push us in the direction I thought was best. I was told no. Being impulsive, I told them I was starting my own website, quit on as reasonably good terms as possible, and coerced a few numbskulls into writing for me.
We’ll see how it works out, I guess.
So yeah, I’m unhappy with my experiences. That said, I do think it’s important to acknowledge that things need to change—have needed to change—at the organizational level across the board in terms of the way volunteers are trained and their skills implemented within our community.
But it seems like things always need to change. Someone’s always unhappy, someone’s always complaining about something. ATR would die without curled lips and rolling eyes.
Despite any unhappiness I have with my time at IQA/USQ or the Quidditch Post, in the end, I take away a few positives. I got to meet lots of cute girls, get into the past two nationals for free thanks to a press pass, and hang out at Ref Haus. If there’s one thing good that I can say for volunteering, it very definitely gets you those good connex and, if you’re lucky, some superb smoochin’.