Saturday, March 14, 2015

California Dobbys Continue Quidditch After College

By Danielle Lehmann

Out in ‘the real world,’ most people find jobs, get their own place, and maybe start a family. The idea of playing quidditch outside of college often fades away since opportunities to join a team are slim. Salvador Sanchez is a recent college graduate who decided he wouldn’t give up his passion for quidditch. This led him to establish the California Dobbys, of which he is currently the captain.

Sanchez passion for quidditch began while playing at the University of California Berkeley. He transferred to the school in 2012 and quickly became involved with the sport, remaining involved even after tearing the ligaments in his right ankle and being unable to play for two months. He was named co-captain his second year and retained that position until he graduated in 2014. 

Many players are unable to find the time to play or a team to play with once they graduate college. Sanchez had the time and the dedication, but wanted to do more than merely participate at an already established team’s practice. He decided that he was going to start his own team and that he would pose the question to a few of his childhood friends. 

With the exception of one, Sanchez taught them quidditch from the basics. 

“It was not as difficult to teach the sport because they all had either played football, basketball, or soccer at some point, and they were able to relate different aspects of their respective sports to quidditch,” said Sanchez. 

With a strong base of dedicated players, linked by friendship and a love of the game, they started to recruit more players to turn their informal play into a more organized team. 

“The experience was very exciting,” said Sanchez. “I was happy not only to bring a new sport to them, but also to be able to share Saturday mornings together with people [who] I grew up with doing something that we all have really enjoyed.”

They originally called their team Los Dobbys because of their location in Los Angeles. However, as the team developed, the childhood friends welcomed more players from across the state; team members now came from San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oakland, San Francisco, Long Beach, and Los Angeles. In order to represent their team more completely, they changed the name to the California Dobbys. 

Although Sanchez attracted players from multiple towns, he still had an important issue to solve: the “four maximum” rule. Sanchez struggled to bring female players, especially beaters, to the team. He needed to have at least two non-male players on the pitch at all times in order to not be penalized for breaking the gender rule. One female player in particular, Chelsea Friedman, a beater, rose to the occasion. 

“Her tenacity and dedication is admirable,” Sanchez said. “She has been willing to compete without a sub, and we have been relatively successful because of her gameplay.”

The team is constantly searching for more female players but has been somewhat unsuccessful at doing so. Sanchez thinks it may be because the Dobbys are not as well known as other teams in the area, or that players would rather go to the more popular or experienced teams. These possibilities don’t discourage Sanchez, however. Instead, he is more passionate about his own team. He is helping to train the current female chasers to beat so that they can join gameplay in multiple positions, and he continues to try to recruit new and experienced players. 

Although the California Dobbys are in competition with four other teams for new players, Sanchez believes their location and proximity to those teams were essential to the growth of his own. The Long Beach Funky Quaffles donated their equipment to the California Dobbys to help them get started and were very welcoming to California Dobbys players. The Lost Boys are also great supporters of the team, having scrimmaged against the California Dobbys in a best-of-three game series. 

“In between matches, they were very supportive and gave constructive criticism about what we do well and what areas of improvement are needed,” said Sanchez. “After the tournament, some players have periodically come to our practices to continue to give us help in player and team development. Their insight and help has been priceless as well as selfless.” 

Team practices are just as vital as games, but Sanchez found that practice for the California Dobbys needed to be different from regular practice for college teams. At the University of California Berkeley, the team met three times a week to practice and were always accepting new members. Sanchez questioned whether or not constant recruitment helped new players learn faster or whether it kept more advanced players from further development. 

For the California Dobbys, Sanchez decided to stop actively recruiting players (with the exception of female beaters) since October so that the team could come together, practice, and advance their skills. However, even this goal becomes a hurdle for those playing quidditch after college.

“Its also different in that we only practice about two to three times a month since almost everyone on the team has full-time professions and employment,” said Sanchez. 

The California Dobbys boast players who are preschool and high school teachers, scientists, personal trainers, as well as PhD and law students. This wide range of people and occupations makes it difficult to schedule a practice where everyone is available, so the Dobbys have fewer practices than most teams. Even so, this doesn’t dampen their passion for the sport and it doesn’t stop Sanchez from dedicating his time and effort to his team. 

Sanchez started the California Dobbys with a few friends and many Saturday mornings. It has since grown into a strong team of enthusiastic players, each bringing their own perspectives to the game and sharing their free time in order to play the sport that they all love.

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