Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Five Things We Learnt From Hateful 8

By Fraser Posford and Ashara Peiris
Editor’s note: Ashara Peiris is a player for London Unspeakables. On the weekend of Jan. 28 and 29, the Hateful 8 tournament took place at Warwick University. With the top four teams from both North and South regions in attendance, this tournament provided us with a progress update for the status of elite quidditch in the UK. The tournament was split via a community/university divide into two groups of four for Day One, playing a round robin from which the top two from each group entered an upper bracket and the bottom two entered a lower bracket for Day Two. Here, we reflect on Velociraptors QC’s tournament victory as well as some other key observations from the tournament.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

USQ Northwest and UBC Adjust to Life Apart

By Jordan Kubichek

This past year, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Sports Club (UBC) of Vancouver, British Columbia has pulled up stakes from the Northwest region of USQ. This is due to a new ruling by USQ to remove the team from the region; there has been a recent push by the organization to include members only within the United States. The region has adapted to the change, but there have been ripples felt throughout the Northwest region in the wake of UBC’s removal.

Some players lament the loss of a friendly rivalry. 

“UBC was one of the most competitive teams (it  came in third last year at [the regional championship] and has played in two national [championships]),” said Megan Boice, president of the Western Washington University Wyverns (WWU). “Playing good teams makes all teams better.”

The UBC Thunderbirds pose for a team photo with the Canadian flag at USQ Quidditch Cup 9. | Photo Credit: Monica Wheeler Photography
Wyverns coach Jacob Keith had similar sentiments to share.

“With the expulsion of UBC from USQ, the Northwest region lost a founding member,” he said. “[UBC] brings both a passion and love for the game that I admire.”

It has become increasingly apparent this year that while UBC may be gone, the team is far from forgotten. The Rain City Raptors of Seattle, Washington enjoy competing against the Thunderbirds whenever they can. 

Siri Rigsby, a beater for the Raptors, recalls fond experiences.

“I loved having [UBC] in my region and I think it brought a lot of the competitive spirit we need,” she said. “I’m happy we still get to play with and against [UBC] frequently.” 

Teams throughout the Northwest are still encountering UBC at scrimmages and tournaments largely due to the organization of the Quidditch Conference of the Northwest (QCON), which includes teams across the Pacific Northwest and Canada. 

Austin Wallace, the club lead of UBC, has not noted a huge change since the move. Even with the team’s affiliation with Quidditch Canada (QC), he says the tournaments the team regularly attends have not changed much.

“We always go to all tournaments possible, regardless of what league we are in,” he said. 

For the most part, UBC is able to keep up with US teams through invitations to nearby tournaments.

“With the addition of two Utah teams, and Boise not coming to Subdued Excitement [Bellingham’s annual tournament], I think it is pretty clear that we are missing out on a unique competitive opportunity by not being able to compete at USQ regional [championships],” said Wallace. “Overall, though, we have been able to build up our skills and we are happy with our competitive growth this year. The biggest difference for us will be going to Quidditch Canada National [Championship] instead of [US Quidditch Cup], especially since maybe only one team from Eastern Canada will send a full-strength roster.”

The budding organization QCON has proven useful for the US as well. Boice praised the collaboration.

“QCON and other cross-border play have helped us grow west of the Cascades,” she said. 

For the most part, Boice views the removal of UBC in a positive light, noting that it has helped to develop Western Canadian quidditch. 

Wallace also commented on the increasing quality of Canadian competition, noting that UBC had its first loss to any Canadian team this year against the Edmonton Aurors, who are consistently beating UBC in quaffle points. Additionally, the change in organization seems to be keeping the Thunderbirds on their toes.

“While we are technically the highest-ranked team in Canada, we certainly are not the favorites,” said Wallace. “We need to train really hard in the next few months for us to be able to hang with the major players from the east.”

It has not always been smooth sailing for the Thunderbirds. Directly after the move, they experienced backlash about the change to QC, and for a time it looked like they might lose their status as a Thunderbirds Sports Club.

“We were accepted as a Thunderbirds Sports Club on the assumption that we would be in USQ,” said Wallace. “When we were kicked out, QC didn’t meet all of the university’s standards as a national governing body, so we were put on probation.” 

Wallace feels that as long as UBC stays organized, the team should not have a problem keeping its club status. He noted that keeping its status will help maintain the support of the university with things like financial funding and recruiting.

He also remains concerned about the effects a loss of club status could have, highlighting a potential disconnect to competitive quidditch on a larger scale.

“[Leaving USQ] could contribute to lower retainment as people don’t have a cross-country trip against the top teams in the world to train toward,” Wallace said.

The distance between teams in QC is also a problem. Two big hurdles for every Canadian team to overcome are challenges inherent to Canadian geography as well as a lack of cashflow. 

“This country isn’t designed for students to compete in a countrywide league unless they are substantially funded,” said Wallace. 

Despite the hoops to jump through, Wallace remains optimistic about the current quidditch climate.

“For QC, the league is definitely growing and maturing,” he said.

And although UBC is ranked among the top teams in western Canada, “I can’t say with any honesty that UBC is the clear best team in the region anymore,” said Wallace.

UBC players defend the hoops against WWU at the 2015 Northwest Regional Championship. Both teams were instrumental in the founding of the region| Photo Credit: Tasha Kiri Photography

If the quidditch climate is carried effectively through independent organizations like QCON, teams are likely to crop up in more areas, which would do wonders to strengthen the region. According to Mitch Hatfield, co-commissioner of QCON, the long-term sustainability of quidditch in the Northwest is looking up. 

“Our hope is that this conference will help new teams dip their toes into semi-competitive quidditch before diving into USQ or QC competitive quidditch,” he said.

Keith views QCON as a way to bridge the gap created by the removal of the Thunderbirds from USQ.

“I cherish the relationships I have made with UBC over the years, as both fellow athletes and friends,” Keith said. “The thing I love most about QCON is it has helped keep those bonds intact.” 

Hatfield, who is also a beater for the Rain City Raptors, commented on the friendly rivalry between the Raptors and the Thunderbirds.

“I have a feeling this is one rivalry, and through it a friendship, that is going to outlast whatever the coming seasons bring.”

While UBC have been sent home to roost, the team certainly has not disappeared from the region. No matter what organization they belong to, the Thunderbirds remain formidable adversaries who will affect change through their ability to link the worlds of community and friendly competition. 

Editor’s Note: Austin Wallace is interim CEO of the Quidditch Post.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

German Winter Games Review

By Lena Mandahus 

The German Winter Games (Deutsche Quidditch-Winterspiele [DQWS]), Germany’s qualifier for the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), took place in Munich on January 14-15. Eighteen teams from all over Germany competed in the tournament for a chance to play with the other top European teams at EQC in Mechelen, Belgium, on March 25-26.

Belfast Team Heads to Cottonopolis III

By Niamh Ennis

Although quidditch was founded more than a decade ago, the sport has been around in Ireland for considerably less time. NUI Galway University, who sent the Galway Grindylows to the inaugural British Quidditch Cup in 2013, and some of the Dublin universities and IT colleges are responsible for getting the ball rolling in the Republic of Ireland. Nowadays, the Dublin DraĆ­ochta Dragons and Queen’s University Belfast Quidditch Club (QUBQC) are continuing the story as the only two active teams in the Emerald Isle. Although Ireland had a national team at last year’s World Cup and at the 2015 European Games, these versions of the national team were largely comprised of players from the UK with Irish heritage. Ahead of European Games 2017 in Oslo, Norway this July, players in the Republic and Northern Ireland are coming together to create an all-Ireland national team with Quidditch Ireland being set up to get Team Ireland ready for Oslo.

Five Things We Learned from the South Regional Championship

By Kenny Stowe and Steven Paisley

From the cool South Carolina mornings to yet another reigning champion change, the 2017 South Regional Championship ushers in a new era of quidditch strength for the region.

1. Surprises should come as no surprise at the South Regional Championship: Gainesville Siege, the Flying Panthers Quidditch Club (FPQC), inTENNsity, and College of Charleston

As the South Regional Championship usually falls on Valentine’s Day weekend, it is very fitting to say that quidditch at its finest is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. When the deep South and Florida factions clashed February 11-12, it was difficult to predict what might happen. From USQ policy to breakout contenders, this tournament showcased quite a few unexpected surprises.

Southwest Preview: 7-5-3-1

By Carly Jordan and TJ Goaley

Teams around the Southwest are preparing for the Southwest Regional Championship on Feb. 18-19 in College Station, Texas. Over the past several years, many Southwest teams have consistently made it to the Sweet 16 at US Quidditch Cup, not to mention all nine teams that qualified from the Southwest also qualified for bracket play at US Quidditch Cup last year, so all eyes will be on this tournament. Soon 21 Southwest teams will be competing for 12 bids for US Quidditch Cup 10, but certain key players may have what it takes to help push their teams to the top.

Friday, February 10, 2017

International Weekend Wrap-Up - February 4-5

Contributions by Carrie Soukup and Christopher Dewing

There is a lot going on in the world of quidditch on any particular weekend, and most of us only see the stories immediately relevant to our regions. However, it can be very interesting to look outside of our own bubble every once in a while and take a look at the rest of the global community. To that end, each week the Quidditch Post collects information about tournaments and events that happened during the weekend around the world.