Series Created by Sarah Wolfer – Seattle Majestics Player
In celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8th), the Seattle Majestics are excited to launch a series that will highlight the powerful women who make up this Seattle-area Women’s Football team. Every #FootballFriday, a new story will be released where we give you a glimpse into the lives of the inspiring women who are devoted to this game. The Seattle Majestics players and coaches come from all walks of lives with varying backgrounds and experiences who are unified by one common goal – Winning the IX Cup in Denver Colorado this summer.
To kick-off this exciting series, we are bringing you the story of a woman who represents exactly what the Seattle Majestics are all about – Women who are #BreakingBarriers in sports AND in life. We bring you our CEO of the Seattle Majestics (and a former football player with the team herself) – Cyndi Butz-Houghton!
Tell us what it’s like being the CEO of the Seattle Majestics and a female leader in a male-dominated industry such as this?
“I am extremely proud and honored to be the CEO of the Seattle Majestics. It is important to me that the players get to focus on the game and not worry about how the team is run and all the work that goes into it. I also need to recognize Scott McCarron as he is a wonderful COO and Head Coach. He supports me in our mission and I could not do this amazing work without him. We are both passionate about taking Women’s football to the next level and we work great as a team.
Growing up I was a huge tomboy and I loved all sports, but football was always my favorite. Having to conform to what society considered “normal” was never my style. Because of this, I was an easy target for teasing and rarely had female friends who liked sports. It’s sad to me that many of the women playing football today still have to deal with the same thing and are often labeled as “different.”
But they’re not alone anymore.
We are strong women with desire and passion, and as long as I am leading this team it will be a safe place for all. We will be accepting of one another and we will continue to fight for the recognition we deserve. Football is still considered a man’s game and running a sports team is not something people think a woman can handle.
But we can.
And I can.
I still encounter male naysayers who refuse to let a woman tell them what to do, especially in a male-dominated game like football – but that doesn’t stop me. My hope is to change their personal narratives by proving that a strong woman can hold her own in the football arena.
I believe that one day all of this will change. I know that women’s football will soon be everywhere.
Our jerseys will be sold in stores.
Our player’s will get sponsorships.
And our fan base will rival any other.
I will continue to devote my time to this game, to this team, and to this league, until all the girls out there have a chance to be football players. I will lead with a passion for the game and with respect for the fierce women who play it. I know the Seattle Majestics will exceed all expectations and prove that we are the team to beat this year.”
Tell us about yourself and your journey to become a tackle football player with the Seattle Majestics. How did you get started playing football? Why the Seattle Majestics and the WNFC?
“My football journey started at a very young age. I remember being about five years old and sitting down every Sunday with my mom to watch football. Early on I understood the rules and the strategy and I fell in love with the game. I idolized the players because of their mental and physical strength.
I wanted to be them.
I wanted to know what it felt like to wear the helmet and the pads.
To be able to stop someone who was running full force at me.
To catch the game winning pass for a touchdown, or to sack a QB.
I wanted all of it.
In the summer of 2000 I finally got my chance, when I heard of a women’s tackle football league that was forming. I tried out and made the team for the NY Sharks in the WPFL. I lived in Philadelphia at the time, so two days a week I had to leave work early and drive three hours to practice. Fortunate for me, while I was playing with NY, a new league started (NWFL) and they had a team in Philadelphia. Because of this, the Sharks owner allowed me to leave the team and play with the Philadelphia Liberty Belles. My first season with them, I was a starting Line Backer and we won a National Championship! I played a couple seasons with the Belles and then took some time off to have a knee reconstruction. In 2010 and 2011 I decided to play again with the Belles before moving to Seattle and playing two seasons with the Majestics.
When I finished playing, I moved into coaching (Special Teams and Running Backs), and became the General Manager in 2012. I am currently the CEO as well as the Assistant Head Coach, Special Teams Coordinator, LB coach, and RB coach of the Seattle Majestics, and I am thrilled that we were asked to join the WNFC (Women’s National Football Conference). They are the first league I have been a part of that actually works for the teams and players, and they are making huge strides for women’s football.”
As part of the Women’s National Football Conference, the Seattle Majestics are now sponsored by Adidas through the “She Breaks Barriers” campaign. What do you feel are the biggest barriers facing women in sports today? What do you see as your role in changing that?
“Women are still considered weaker and less competitive when it comes to sports. Sponsors are hesitant to support them financially because they don’t have the history of bringing in the crowds, and the crowds mean money. When it comes to sports in general, big companies see the monetary value before they see the actual sportsmanship or abilities of the players. I am beyond excited that Adidas has taken a chance on our league and given us some legitimacy in the process. Women deserve to wear the best gear and to represent football with class and unity.
Twenty years ago when I played my first game, I knew all I wanted to do was play/ coach football and I am dedicated to this game and to these women. Watching the various leagues and teams grow over the years and living with the women who sacrifice so much to play this game, I hope I can be a catalyst in progressing this movement forward. I appreciate Jen Welter, Katie Sowers, and OJ Jenkins for all of their hard work and for driving this movement.”
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give girls growing up today?
“Never be afraid to ask questions.
Never think you can’t do what you want because of any barrier that you think is holding you back – Not sex or race or ability.
Cherish your dreams and believe in yourself. If YOU believe, then everyone else will follow.
Most importantly, if you love football, know that you are not alone. There are other girls and women out there that love it as well and are setting the stage for you to play this beautiful game now and in the future.”
Who is your (s)hero and how did/ does she inspire you?
“My Mom was always the one I looked up to in life.
The one who raised kids on her own.
Who worked to provide for us.
And who never doubted our abilities.
She was the one who told me at the age of 6 or 7 that I can play football if I want to. She told me that I can grow up and change the way the world looks at the game and the women who love it. Then there were all the nights that she came home from work and still found time to throw a football with me in the backyard.
Those are the moments I hold on to.
She taught me to believe in myself and to shut out all the voices of the non-believers. She told me to make my own path and be the person that makes a difference in this world.
As I watch my 3 year old daughter run around with the Majestics because her Mama is a Coach, I know she has gained not only 30+ sisters, but also the knowledge that she is growing up in a time when women play football and it’s considered “normal.” This helps me know that I am on the right path and that our time is coming.”
If you want to see the Seattle Majestics in action, you can purchase your tickets HERE. If you aren’t local to the Greater Seattle area, but want to see these amazing women playing football – you’re in luck! The WNFC recently joined forces with USCREEN and announced “WNFCTV.” Check out more information and watch the games live HERE.