Sunday, February 15, 2015

British Columbia Quidditch Joins USQ

By Danielle Lehmann

This year, USQ added another official team to their growing list of participants, but it’s not who you might expect. This team is strong, dedicated, and will cross a national border to get to their tournaments – that’s right, it’s University of British Columbia Quidditch (UBC), and their hometown is in Vancouver, Canada. 

UBC Quidditch was established in 2010, but has experienced its largest influx of players this season due to very committed members. Alexa Rowe, the University of British Columbia Quidditch president, is one of them. She created websites on various social media outlets in order to promote the team and invite new players to practice with them. She also created the team’s own website to help spread the word. Along with social media, those in the executive body, like Louis Leung, designed personalized quidditch merchandise, like sunglasses, tank tops, and calendars, which helped raise money for the team.

With 77 members and successful fundraising, University of British Columbia Quidditch focused on strengthening the team through practices with its own players, and by competing in outside tournaments. However, its location restricted the number of outside games it could play. There were Canadian teams that it could play against, but they were hours away and not always up to the teams standard of play. UBC  had previous experience participating in a few tournaments in Washington and California. Those games created important memories for the team, which would later help them decide to join USQ. 

“For us, far out in Western Canada there are little to no teams in our area, whereas a trip down to Bellingham [Washington] is both short, of mild cost, and gives us access both to great competition and multiple teams,said Rowe.  

In comparison, taking a road trip to a tournament in California longer, but more beneficial to UBC because of the concentration of teams to play in one area. Arriving at the tournament is usually the most challenging part of the experience, since it costs money to rent cars or pay for gas. The time spent driving to the actual destination also has to be factored in, especially when there is schoolwork to do, but this doesn’t seem like a problem for UBC

“Although they are never without a few bumps road trips are always a huge hit with the team," said Rowe. "What’s more fun than being stuck in a car with five other quidditch players for 10 plus hours? Not much."

University of British Columbia Quidditch didn’t quickly leap into the decision to join USQ. The team carefully weighed the positives and negatives and eventually had to make a choice. Staying with Quidditch Canada was an option, but for them it didn’t seem like the best one.

“We felt USQ would be the most beneficial organization for our team to join,” Rowe said. “The level of the competition in the States is of a caliber we aspire to be, and also we had played many American teams in the past and had very positive experiences.” 

This year, joining USQ was the right decision for University of British Columbia Quidditch, but their choice is not final. Rowe said that it’s a careful decision that the team will be considering every year. Although making the commitment gives them access to closer teams that are of similar or greater talent, there are also some drawbacks. It is difficult for UBC Quidditch to hold their own tournaments and games because even if teams are an hour or two away, some are hesitant about crossing the border into Canada. The process itself can sometimes take precious time since there are carloads of players involved. Furthermore, to cross the border everyone in the team needs a passport, which can be expensive and takes months to receive. Lastly, there is the player fee to consider, which when unaided by a college, can become a hefty bill. 

“The player fee is expensive,” Rowe said.As a Canadian university it’s a shame to not be a part of our national league, but we believed strongly in this decision and have enjoyed it and the competition greatly this year.”

University of British Columbia Quidditch has tested the water of both the Canadian league and the United States league and now has a decision to make in the years to come. The end result could change over time, but for now the new connections forged between this team in Vancouver, Canada and teams in the States open new possibilities, competitions, and friendships. UBC already has a presence and relationship with teams in the states of Washington and California, and with their continued dedication we may sooner, rather than later see a Canadian presence at the World Cup as well.

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