Monday, October 26, 2015

2015-16 Northwest Regional Preview

By Taylor Veracka and Danielle Lehmann

In order to gauge the 2015-16 season, the Quidditch Post’s regional editors reached out to the captains of each USQ-official team to talk team strategy, incoming and departing players, and more. 

Big Sky Flyers Quidditch (BSF)
Source: Anna Laufmann

Last year was the first year the Big Sky Flyers took to the pitch, but this season is their first official season with USQ. BSF is a college team for Montana State University, located in Bozeman, Montana. Captain Emily Rodway and coach Spencer Shuman lead the team. Although small, BSF boasts eager players who are excited to become more involved in the USQ community.

BSF is the first official team in Montana, so the team has some issues with distance and finances. The closest team is Utah State Quidditch Club of Utah State University, which is a five to six hour drive away, but with inclement weather and traffic, the team’s average travel time is closer to seven or eight hours. BSF also has a limited number of vehicles to traverse that distance, thus limiting the number of players the team can bring to tournaments. Although the distance can be tough, the team’s main issue is funding. Lack of funding kept BSF from becoming official last year, so this year it was the team’s first priority. BSF has received some funding this season from Montana State University, which it used to register the team. However, this leaves the team with very little to work with during the season, so BSF will have to work on raising money throughout the season to help with travel and equipment expenses.

Boise State Abraxans (BSA)
Source: Kym Couch

A dynasty could be created at Boise State, as Brenden Bixler, the younger brother of BSA co-captain Bryan Bixler, is on the team this season. He has already received multiple MVP nominations at West Fantasy, so it will be exciting to see if he brings the same level of stardom to an already talented Boise squad. BSA has a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on: Bryan Bixler, his co-captain Stew Driflot, and coach Kym Couch are all seniors with three or more years of experience each. The Abraxans will also have a lot of new players to work with, which is good because they have lost a graduating player to the Boise State Thestrals. However, BSA will not suffer the loss of veteran player Casey Thompson, who was initially hesitant to return:

“Casey Thompson had said that he was not planning on being competitive this season, but he told me today that he has changed his mind because of Northwest Fantasy, so he does plan on trying out for BSA this season” said Couch.

BSA was also able to draw players up from the Thestrals last season, but because this is no longer a viable option due to USQ’s new transfer policy,  making sure the team is injury-free will be a serious concern.

Photo Credit: Caroline Pitt

Boise State Thestrals (BST)
Source: Harrison Baucom

The Boise State Thestrals used to go hand-in-hand with the Boise State Abraxans, but things might be a little different this year with USQ’s new transfer policy. In the past, Thestrals players were able to move up to the Abraxans if they worked hard and improved, but that will no longer be the case.

“We also moved players both from Thestrals to Abraxans and from Abraxans to Thestrals last season as players sort of discovered which team they'd rather be on and where they fit best,” said Harrison Baucom, coach and captain of the Thestrals.

The Thestrals are a relatively young team, as they were founded in 2014, but they will be starting this season with a group of players who have experience playing and learning together, a much better situation than the inexperience that they started with last year.

Photo Credit: Caroline Pitt

British Columbia Quidditch Club (BCQC)
Source: Matt Langmuir

British Columbia Quidditch Club is one of the two Canadian teams allowed to play as a part of USQ this season (the other team is University of British Columbia, the A team, featured later in this article). BCQC is a college B team located in Vancouver, Canada. Courtney Markin is the coach this season, with Matt Langmuir as beater captain and Cameron Drury as chaser captain.

BCQC’s B team status has proven to be somewhat difficult for the team’s player retention rate. Many of its players are not returning this season since they worked hard enough to be promoted to the varsity A team. Owen Low and Robert Jacobson are two such players who earned their spots on the University of British Columbia team. BCQC also had a high number of international students play last season, so players like Stella Naylor and Leander Troll will not be playing since their semester abroad ended.

Since a majority of BCQC’s players are new to the pitch this season, the team has a lot of work in front of them. However, its beaters have a solid defensive game, which will benefit the team while they’re still trying to establish a coherent chemistry. It’s not going to be easy for BCQC to win a spot to compete in US Quidditch Cup 9, but Langmuir has been surprised this season.

“Last tournament, we played our last two games without surrendering a single point,” said Langmuir. “That being said, we’re a completely new team this year so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for our players to gel and get comfortable with working and communicating with one another. So far I've seen our team progress as our team chemistry improves, and I hope we can continue improving ourselves into a squad that can earn a spot in Carolina in the spring!”

Photo Credit: Brandon Rivas

Moscow Manticores at the University of Idaho (MMUI)
Source: Lauren Blenn and Cody Fairchild

Although registered as a community team, the Moscow Manticores at the University of Idaho are a college-based team. MMUI accepts players from both the university and the surrounding community primarily because they have only a very small pool of players to recruit from. Founded in 2012, the team is captained by Cody Fairchild and Timothy Martin, with Lauren Blenn as the team’s president. The Manticores, who went on their annual retreat to Sandpoint, Idaho, on Labor Day to promote team bonding, pride themselves on being a very close-knit group.

The Manticores will be missing two players this year: Dayton Uttinger, who has left the team after graduating, and Cody Spoelstra, who has moved to Washington and is now playing for the Western Washington Wyverns this season. The rest of the Manticores will still be playing in Idaho, and on a brand new set of gold and black brooms, no less.

Photo Credit: Lauren Blenn

Portland Augureys (PDX)
Source: Benji B’Shalom

Most USQ teams don’t have a lot of room to play around with the gender-based fielding rules on the quidditch pitch, but the Portland Augureys have many non-binary players on their team this year and are looking forward to being able to field some creative lineups. This young community team, based in Portland, Oregon and founded in 2014 as an affiliate of the Portland Quidditch League, is trying to capitalize on the passion of its players to continue learning and growing in the quidditch world. This may be difficult to do, however, since being a new community team makes it difficult to ensure commitment to the sport.

“Mostly our challenges are the classic community team challenges, but they're compounded by the culture of the city and by the newness of the sport here,” said co-captain Benji B’Shalom. “We have put in some good recruiting work over the summer but there's still the issue of people having busy lives, so everyone's availability is kinda scattered.”

B’Shalom shares his responsibilities with Jess Robertson and non-playing coach Tasha Robertson. The Augureys are very focused on sportspersonship and team spirit, but also promise to play the best they can on the field. With a year of experience now behind many of their players, it will be interesting to see what the Augureys look like on the pitch.

Photo Credit: Berry Robertson

Rain City Raptors (RCR)
Source: Drew Sutorius

Starting its first official year this season, the Rain City Raptors recently edited their mascot from Bigfoot riding a whale to a raptor holding an umbrella while riding a broom. Based in Puget Sound, Washington, RCR has already filled many administrative positions in order to take advantage of its talented players and stay organized and top of their game. Drew Sutorius is the captain, Nicole Jackson has the title “Assistant of Everything,” Alexander Ramsey is the beater coach, and Jake Ronhaar is the chaser coach for this season. While RCR has a strong male chaser and keeper player core, as well as experienced female beaters, most of the players in the male beating and female chasing positions are not as seasoned. Although financing travel is a big issue for most teams and continues to be the RCR’s primary challenge, the team has been able to order uniforms that Sutorius described as “saucy,” but we will just have to wait for the next tournament to see them.

Seattle Salamanders (SS)
Source: Timmy Bendiš

Official for its first year, the Seattle Salamanders are located on the University of Washington campus, but they are not an official University of Washington team. The Salamanders are both a college and community team and use the college’s archery field, which has room for lots of spectators.

“Our members are, and mostly will be for the foreseeable future, UW students, but we're hardly going to turn away non-students, because it would go against what the whole idea [of what quidditch] is based off of,” said Timmy Bendiš, a candidate for team captain. “Salamanders are part of an umbrella, Obscure Sports Seattle, which was built on the concept of reaching out to the community. If there are players who want to be part of the Salamanders’ project, who are we to turn them away?”

The financial support of Obscure Sports Seattle has helped the team get on its feet, but it doesn’t mean that the SS will not be on top of fundraising. Katie Haas and Kathleen Huntsman will be working closely with the university’s Harry Potter Club to finance the team. In addition, the Salamanders have great event coordination and business development skills, so they hope to draw large crowds to events. Even so, the SS are a new team and they will most likely hit speed bumps along the way, especially with recruitment. However, with the backing of Obscure Sports Seattle and the ability to draw support fr0m both the university and surrounding community, it is possible that the Salamanders could turn heads this season.

University of British Columbia Quidditch (UBC)
Source: Cameron Cutler

The University of British Columbia is the second, and last, Canadian team allowed to play in USQ this season (the other is BCQC mentioned above). Active since 2012, UBC will struggle filling spots in the beater position, as many of their female beaters from last year will not be playing this season. However, UBC has a few talented new recruits that made their first appearance in BCQC, the B team at the University of British Columbia. Though it will take time to determine how the new and old recruits work together, Cameron Cutler, the team’s captain, is optimistic that UBC can continue its excellent play from last year.

“We rely on strong beater play and smart offense. We were one of the smallest teams at World Cup 8 last year but we were able to find success with our speed and intelligent passing,” said Cutler.

Photo Credit: Michael E. Mason

Western Washington Wyverns (WWU)
Source: Becky Campbell

The Western Washington University Wyverns, a collegiate team located in Bellingham, Washington, have a wide range of ages (18-30+), genders, and sexualities, and the goal of creating a safe and inclusive community for all its players. Ian Howard will be coaching WWU this season, replacing Nicole Jackson who has moved to the Rain City Raptors. This year the team will be missing most of its senior players, including Jackson, Abby Schmidt, Molly Bocian, and Drew Sutorius.

“Our teams strengths lie within our ability to adapt easily to changes, accept challenges when presented and to be wholly inclusive of anyone interested in playing quidditch regardless of their skill level or experience,” said publicity liaison Becky Campbell. “After attending World Cup 8 this last season, we have a better understanding of what we want going forward in the future and how we can achieve our goals.”

The team’s goal this season is to move forward since many players will not be returning. The loss of these players, a common problem for college teams, will hurt the team’s chemistry and advancement, but the team is working on moving forward from with what it learned in the past to embrace the future.

Photo Credit: Western Washington University Wyverns


The following team has not responded with information: Emerald City Admirals.

If your team has not been included in this article, but is interested in being added, please email

No comments:

Post a Comment