Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015-16 South Regional Preview

By Sarah Goad 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.
Correspondent: Amy Sullivan The original Rollins College Quidditch team was begun in 2010; Amy Sullivan and Stephen Nettles came into leadership as captain and president, respectively, in 2013. In November of 2014, Rollins and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) chose to merge for the season as RCQC in order to creative a competitive squad for the regional championship. It qualified for World Cup 8 because of a deferred bid and went 1-4 during flight play. The captain for the 2015-16 season will be Sullivan; her co-captain will be ex-Florida’s Finest chaser Mike Bourgault. The team’s primary challenge, having the team split between two locations, remains consistent from last year. RCQC has two main hubs: Orlando and Boca Raton, Florida. While it is technically registered as a college team since it receives funding from Rollins College, RCQC is similar to an increasing number of teams in the South region in that it acts as a community team and does not limit its membership to students from its associated university. This means players cannot practice together every week, so cohesion is a bit difficult to build. “We’re practicing once a week in each location and holding full practices at least the week before every tournament,” said Sullivan. “We’re also hoping to scrimmage and maybe hold joint practices with other teams in the area whenever possible.” RCQC hopes to attend every South region tournament this season, including Florida Gulf Coast Quidditch’s (FGCU) fourth annual Eagle Cup on Oct. 24 and Florida State University’s (FSU) third annual Renegade Cup on Nov. 7. The team will host Highland Games again in January and an as-of-yet-unnamed tournament on the Rollins campus on Nov. 14. RCQC looks to do some out of region travelling in the spring, hopefully to Mid-Atlantic and at least Tennessee. This could be really beneficial to a team that showed promise last season but definitely needs more experience with a wider variety of teams and playing styles in order to better itself, especially now that Paige DeKiel, easily one of its best beaters, is leaving the team to play with Florida’s Finest (FF). Departing players are chasers Stephen Nettles and Matthew Lansing and beaters Paige DeKiel and Celia Garthwait.
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Southern Storm (SS)
Correspondent: Joey Galtelli While the idea for a joint-Carolina community team was originally the idea of ex-College of Charleston (CofC) keeper Steven Schwark, Southern Storm is the brainchild of Joey Galtelli, a former Winthrop University player who saw the success of community excursions like FF and realized the impact one could have on the stagnating quidditch community in the Carolinas. This team has a home base in Rock Hill, South Carolina – just south of the border delineating North and South Carolina and close enough to Winthrop to guarantee graduating players a community team should they seek it. SS was last season’s youngest competitive team, having played its first game only three months before qualifying for World Cup 8 (WC8). Its success at last year’s South Regional Championship–and, consequently, WC8–has encouraged Captains Tanner Morris and Ginny Ostgaard and Coach Galtelli to regroup for a second season.   Galtelli believes that SS could be a uniting force for the Carolina Quidditch Conference, which has been disparate and disorganized for the past few seasons. Southern Storm was created for the sole purpose of providing graduated and more competitive players competitive refuge. When asked about the potential for poaching created by community teams, Galtelli leapt to the defense of Carolina university teams. “Although I strongly believe Southern Storm has the potential to become the best [team] in South Carolina, it won't be by much,” said Galtelli. “I personally feel a strong connection to the College of Charleston and University of South Carolina and would never purposely do anything to hinder them. I think I’ve learned from FF the importance of having a balanced region, not just one dominant team. Myself and the other captains strongly believe that members of our team need to regularly practice with someone–anyone–to not be affected by the ‘community team curse.’ SS will one day become the region’s dominant team, but it won't be because we are stealing the talent from everyone around us.” During the short time the team played together last year, Southern Storm’s few players showed a surprising amount of tenacity and initiative. Galtelli has the leadership ability and hunger to turn Storm into a truly capable team, but only if he is able to recruit equally able and hungry players for this season. Particularly, he needs to dig deep into the Carolinas’ talent pool and find some beaters to bolster Storm’s defensive line, or it’s unlikely that this team will make the same showing at the 2015-16 South Regional Championship that it did last year. Thus far, Galtelli has confirmed that Southern Storm will be participating in exhibition matches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s (UNCC) third annual Gold Rush Cup on Oct. 24. Houston Hensley, Kaliph Piper, and Shelby Wise are some of the new players who were drafted during SS’s tryouts on Sept. 27. Players departing from Storm’s roster include chaser Bridget Fallis, keeper Andrew Latham, utility player Ashley Michels, and chaser Steven Rosen.
Photo Credit: Hanna Reese
University of South Carolina (USC) Correspondent: Joe Goldberg The team that surprised everyone by defeating CofC Quidditch at 2014’s South Regional Championships for a bid to World Cup VII has, however indirectly, attracted the attention of North American quidditch once again after Columbia, South Carolina was chosen as the site US Quidditch Cup 9. USC has always struggled with player retention and consistent performance. This year, however, captain Joe Goldberg says every player from the previous season is returning, which should make for elevated synchronicity and experience. “Our beaters are probably the core strength of our team,” said Goldberg, though he admits that the aforementioned recruiting and retention problems have affected the team’s ability to find and train non-male beaters. “What allows us to play two male beaters, however, is the intimidating keeper Kaley Crunk, who can take hit after hit without faltering. Our two starting chasers can also ball with the best of the teams we’ve played against.” The Gamecocks, who in previous seasons have relied heavily on their primary beater pair of Joe Goldberg and Kyle Demo, are apparently at last training beaters in order to at last create a real beater line. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s (UNCG) Minerva Cup III on Sept. 19, USC had one returning male beater who was not Goldberg or Demo and two new players who were shaky but showed promise. It may be very wise for USC to really invest some time in these players and try to grow its beater lines, as its beater game relies far too heavily on Demo and Goldberg. USC has plans to attend FSU’s third annual Renegade Cup on Nov. 7.
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Florida’s Finest
Correspondent: Devon McCoy Florida’s Finest has, in two short seasons, earned a reputation for being the best team in the South region. An amalgam of players from a variety of university teams, former Team USA beater Sean Pagoada has managed to recruit deep, talented offensive and defensive lines from amongst his friends and manipulate those lines into an effective team that advanced to the Sweet 16 at World Cup its first season in play. Last year’s World Cup run was a little less spectacular, but that doesn’t detract from FF’s dominance throughout the 2014-15 season in the South. “Our coach this year will be Tim Derrick, originally from University of Florida,” said Devon McCoy, a chaser for Finest. “To my knowledge, Curtis Taylor and Ryan Haggard are the only members not returning this season.” The addition of Derrick as coach could mean great things for FF’s organization and playmaking, but the losses of Taylor and Haggard, both phenomenal offensive beaters who anchored Finest’s beating core, will likely be felt and require a return to the position from Sean Pagoada upon occasion. For the 2015-16 season, FF is adding more players to its roster, though who these players are is unclear as of yet. According to McCoy, whatever issues that existed last season were borne of an inability for its players to practice together, which seems to be a typical issue for community teams. By adding members from across Florida who have previous experience playing together, FF will add depth to its lines while complimenting its established roster’s speed. All of this does not necessarily mean that Finest will face nothing but clear skies until US Quidditch Cup 9. “Being in a region that didn’t send a single team to bracket play last year means our region’s [bids] will be limited, so every single team in the South will be feeling the pressure just to make it to the Cup this year,” said McCoy. “We as a region have not performed well [historically] on the biggest stage of our sport. We as a team came painfully close last year, which is only fueling to our aggression and thirst as a team to win the [USQ Cup].” FF was present at the University of Miami’s Canes Classic on Sept. 26 and can so far confirm attendance to Loyola University New Orleans’ fourth annual Wolfpack Classic on Oct. 17.
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University of Miami Hurricanes (UM)
Correspondents: Shannon Moorhead & Bernardo Berges Miami, one of the oldest teams in the region, was once the stronghold of Southern quidditch thanks to the dedication and leadership of players like Sean Beloff and Matt Ziff, who played last season with the Los Angeles Gambits. The bulk of its experienced roster graduated the season before last, however, which made the 2014-15 season a rebuilding year for the team. According to veteran beater Shannon Moorhead, Miami has about 18 returning players this year, over half of whom have been playing together for two seasons now, which will be a welcome change after such an inexperienced roster last year. Miami’s leadership will be the same as last season, with Coach German Barrios and Captains Moorhead and Bernardo Berges all returning. “This year’s strengths will be our speed and our chemistry,” said Moorhead. “We faced more challenges last year than I think we will this year, but this season? I think the biggest may be learning to adapt quickly to other teams and being able to shake things up mid-game. That said, we have a lot of very promising rookies this year–including a multitude of very capable [women]!” Miami hosted its second annual Canes Classic on Sept. 26 and and planned on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) “Stop Trying to Make Quidditch Happen” on Oct. 3, but it was cancelled due to inclement weather; it can confirm attendance to FGCU’s fourth annual Eagle Cup on Oct. 24, an as-of-yet-unnamed tournament to be hosted by RCQC on Nov. 14, and the University of Florida’s (UF) annual Swamp Cup on Dec. 5. Miami’s departing players are beater Cody Morris and keeper Gino Parra.
Photo Credit: Briana Earhart
Ringling College of Art and Design Quidditch Correspondent: Kyle Beckett
One of the oldest teams in the South, Ringling College of Art and Design was a force to be reckoned with a few seasons past, but ever since the departure of keeper Dan Miller to the Northeast and Quidditch Club Boston, the team has slipped. This is mostly due to a real struggle with recruitment and retention. As Ringling is an art school with a strict workload, many who would be interested in joining the team find themselves unable to or unwilling to sacrifice precious time they feel is necessary to dedicate to other pursuits. Kyle Beckett is the captain of this year’s squad, and he is interested in ensuring that his team enjoys itself on-pitch. “Everyone who was here last year is staying,” said Beckett. “And in terms of recruitment and new players, I just want to say that after our first three weeks of practice, we have picked up around 20 freshmen. This is the biggest recruitment Ringling has had in awhile.” Hopefully this means a strong new base of athletes for Ringling, which thrived under Miller’s leadership and could thrive again if circumstances allowed. Competition aside, Beckett believes in the quidditch lifestyle, and boasts that while Ringling may not be the most competitive team in North America, it is definitely one of the friendliest. “No one should be afraid to come and talk with us,” said Beckett. “We are all excited to hang with everyone and play some quidditch! [Enjoying the game] is our strength. We are an old team, and we try to stick close to that original era of quidditch where it was all about having fun and making friends.”

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Time Turners Quidditch (TTQ) Correspondents: Evan Parsons & Karissa Kirsch
Established as an unofficial team in November 2013, this year Time Turners Quidditch will be going USQ official for its first season. The University of Tennessee Knoxville-affiliated team will be captained this season by Carolina Moralejo and coached by Evan Parsons “We are so motivated–everybody wants to grow so badly this year, and it’s already making a huge difference in our practices,” said chaser and team co-founder Karissa Kirsch. “Everyone’s hungry and ready to put in the effort.” That said, funding is apparently a huge issue for the Time Turners and something the team is taking into careful consideration for the upcoming season. TTQ wants to travel and play about twice as much as it did last year, and money for transportation, jerseys, equipment, and anything else–never mind the wherewithal to run productive practices–is going to prove even more cumbersome now that the team has doubled in size. With the acknowledgment that lacking funds would likely to be a major impediment toward putting forth a truly competitive season, this will be a major building year for TTQ. This is the first year that the team’s founders Emma Tomat and Karissa Kirsch are not exclusively guiding the Time Turners’ trajectory, but it seems the trajectory continues upward, as the team’s leadership is filling out the paperwork to become a school sponsored team and they are about half-and-half on vets and returners. “We were featured in our university’s alumni mag this week, too,” said Kirsch. “Over 215,000 people receive The Torchbearer each September, so we’re really excited about the exposure.” TTQ will be attending UNCC’s third annual Gold Rush Cup on Oct. 24 and is tentatively planning on hosting a tournament in the spring. The team would like to be able to help facilitate some growth in the upper South region, and a tournament hosted in a city as easily accessible as Knoxville could contribute to that growth. Departing players are Kent Connell, Adam Harris, Austin Chandler, Leyanet Gonzalez, Bryan Wade, and Kelsey Walton.         
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Florida Gulf Coast University
Correspondent: Ebli De La Rosa, Jr. Established in 2012, FGCU is a newer Florida team based out of Fort Myers, Florida. This year FGCU is captained and coached by Tyler May and looks to grapple with the growing pains of transitioning to new leadership while also dealing with a large influx of new players. “We have not had enough practices to really be certain of strengths yet, but the mixture of driven new players and experienced veterans will lead to a well balanced team,” said Ebli De La Rosa, Jr. FGCU is close enough to Miami-based teams the University of Miami and Florida International University (FIU), both of which are approximately two and a half hours away, and Tampa-based team University of South Florida Quidditch (USF), which is about two hours away, to comfortably arrange day trips for scrimmaging on the weekends. Scrimmaging is obviously a fantastic way to build experience and could be a great way to increase FGCU’s performance this season. If Florida Gulf Coast uses its location to its advantage and exposes its new players to other teams’ playing styles early on in the season, it’s possible that FGCU will be able to turn a building year into a developing year and could be middle-tier by the time the regional championship rolls around on the weekend of Feb. 13 and 14. FGCU will be hosting Eagle Cup 4 on Oct. 24. De La Rosa is the only player who will not be returning to FGCU’s roster this season.

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College of Charleston Quidditch
Correspondents: Joe Suthers & Jess Coleman A large number of enthusiastic freshmen during the first few weeks of practices is likely a relief for a team whose performance will be scrutinized after the graduation of keeper and regional star Steven Schwark. This season’s captains–returning beater veteran Joe Suthers and returning chaser and recently ex-New York Titan Jess Coleman–do not seem terribly concerned by Schwark’s departure, however. “I think we have a versatile set of chasers and a very consistent beater squad,” said Suthers. “We may have lost the person who most people saw as our only good player, but we've had a strong supporting cast for a while. I definitely wouldn't say we're an elite team by any means, but we're not one to be taken lightly.” He isn’t incorrect; when it is coordinated on-field and avoids getting emotional, this team is easily top five in its region – which it proved at last season’s South Regional Championship, where it beat out Miami to earn a place in the finals against Florida’s Finest. Emotion is CofC Quidditch’s greatest adversary on the pitch, and no one knows it better than the players themselves. “One challenge that we've faced for a long time is the mental aspect of the game,” said Suthers. “Our emotions often get in the way, which leads to us getting cards. We'll be working on both of those things this year, though.” “I think we need to always keep our heads in the game and not get caught up on minute details,” said Coleman. “It'll kill us mentally throughout the course of the game, and it has many times in the past. If things don't go our way in the beginning, we get thrown off and have a hard time coming back from that.” CofC Quidditch was present at UNCG’s Minerva Cup on Sept. 19, and planned on attending UNC’s “Stop Trying to Make Quidditch Happen” on Oct. 3, but this event was canceled due to inclement weather. CofC can still confirm attendance to Coastal Carolina University’s second annual Chauncey Cup in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Nov. 7.
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Florida International University (FIU)
Correspondent: Nicole Robson, Quidditch Post Staff Photographer FIU was established in 2010, its co-captains are Ivanna D'Alencon and Natalie Abrahante, and its coach is Steven Paisley. “We have definitely improved tremendously since last season,” said Nicole Robson. “This is largely in part due to all our new players. In the past we have never had more than six core players, and now we are up to about 13 to 15.” FIU’s players are extremely committed this season, according to Robson. The summer has been dedicated to building morale and creating a familial relationship between players, while October and November will present the challenges of getting players to tournaments and improving communication on-pitch. “In the past, having a full roster has been a huge challenge,” said Robson. “With our new players we are hoping to mend this, but it will definitely still be difficult. As per communication, with so many new players, we still aren't all in sync yet. Summer practices have helped us most of the way, but we will definitely be putting an emphasis on communication during practices.” Departing players are Oscar Blanco and Martha Ossa.
University of South Florida Quidditch Club
Correspondent: Gabriel Moreta The University of South Florida Quidditch team will be captained this year by Gabriel Moreta and Mark Griffin, who characterize their team’s strengths as unity, drive, and boundless energy. Moreta and Griffin believe joint captaincy will be a more effective means of running their squad than the previous method of one captain and an assistant. “We think experience and depth will contribute to an effective shared captaincy,” said Moreta. USF was present at Miami’s second annual Canes Classic on Sept. 26.

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Tennessee Tech Quidditch (TTU) Correspondents: Cody Lawson and Logan Hartman
Unlike most teams, TTU boasts an expansive leadership team. While Logan Hartman will be the coach for the season, he is supplemented by an healthy supporting cast featuring Cody Lawson, Ahmad Suaro, and Charlie Jordan. TTU is known in the South for its physicality and size, especially since the program is built around ex-college varsity athletes Hartman and Charlie Jordan. Hartman says that TTU’s leadership intends on continuing to shape the program this way this season by hopefully bringing on a few more ex-NCAA athletes. As for training, Hartman says the team is trying something entirely new this season. “We've been trying an entirely new training method this season that involves constant changes,” said Hartman. “We're trying to keep our bodies in top shape and prevent them from getting used to anything other than taking beatings and never getting tired. I've been throwing a mix of workouts, sprints, physical exercises, and obstacle courses at my team and so far the results are great. We only hope we can maintain numbers for tournaments, as this has weeded out many less committed and dedicated players and has left me with a team that is small but is ready to go to battle day in and day out.” Tennessee Tech can confirm attendance to the following tournaments: Ball State University’s Super Ball Brothers Brawl on Oct. 10, FSU’s third annual Renegade Cup on Nov. 7, and East Tennessee State University’s King of the Mountain tournament on Nov. 14. TTU’s departing players are Landon Smith, Michael Ferowich, Kellie Davis Smith, Brent Burton, Lauren Bonte, and Alex Campbell.
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Correspondent: Landon Smith inTENNsity is a new community team based Cookeville, Tennessee and organized by ex-Tennessee Tech University  husband-and-wife duo Landon Smith and Kellie Davis-Smith. inTENNsity is off to a strong start already thanks to a wealth of other ex-TTU players who departed for the community front with the Smiths. “We are all experienced players,” said Landon Smith. “Most of us have played together for three or more years. About half of the team attended World Cup 8 last year as members of TTU.” As with all new community teams, numbers will be an issue in the fall – a struggle the Smiths are not ignorant to – and it seems like some of the members already recruited from TTU will only be able to play in the spring. Funding and regular practice are likely to be hurdles, as well, but Smith is excited for the new season and isn’t overly concerned. “We formed this team to have fun, first and foremost,” he said. “We want to be competitive, but our main goal is to enjoy ourselves and continue playing quidditch while we are able.” inTENNsity plans on attending Ball State University’s Super Ball Brothers Brawl on Oct. 10 and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s third annual Gold Rush Cup on Oct. 24.
Photo Credit: inTENNsity
East Tennessee State University (ETSU)
Correspondent: Carmen Barrera Established in 2011, ETSU is facing the same problems that many of its brethren in the South region are – graduated players and player retention difficulties. ETSU recently lost its captain, so having to adjust to that may prove difficult, as the beginning of the season is an important time for strong leadership. While player retention in general is an issue, club President Carmen Barrera cites the team’s inability to retain non-male players as an especially difficult hurdle to overcome before ETSU can really become a competitive force in the region. “Despite any issues we have, our strengths include easily adapting to new players, having very effective beaters, great leadership, and having the support of our campus recreation department,” said Barrera. “Also, we use our losses alongside our victories as a learning tool for improvement.” The team plans on spending the beginning of the season focusing on drills, formations, and conditioning in order to improve stamina and skill for new players. ETSU attended UNCG’s unofficial Minerva Cup on Sept. 19 and is planning on attending UNCC’s Gold Rush Cup III on Oct. 24. East Tennessee plans on hosting an as-of-yet-unnamed tournament on Nov. 14 and another tournament sometime next semester.
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University of Florida Quidditch
Correspondent: Jimmy Singer Established in 2009, UF is not considered a sports club by its university; it thus adopts community players onto its roster. This year, Jimmy Singer will be the coach. So far this season, UF is in a state of flux, and the team is looking uncertain, as both the roster and the captain are undecided and the majority of last season’s players have departed due to graduation. “We’re going to be doing continuous heavy recruiting, so we won’t really know our strengths until we get back up and running,” said Singer. “It’s going to be a rebuilding and training year for UF, so we’ll be concentrating on finding new players and forming a coherent strategy.” The Quidditch Post requested a team photo but did not receive one in time for publication. Nearly Headless Knights (CFQ) Correspondent: Daniel Mantilla Although CFQ’s quidditch team was established in 2012, last season its players were a part of UF. For the 2015-16 season, the Nearly Headless Knights are on their own again and captained and coached by Daniel Mantilla. Thanks to the split from UF, whose roster is also suffering, one of the challenges for CFQ’s team this season will be a lack of returning players. A lack of returners means veteran players will be doomed to rebuilding, recruiting, and instructing new players in gameplay, though Mantilla says he feels it’s a challenge he and his fellow returners are up to. “To prepare for the season, we’ll be doing a lot of drilling and conditioning,” said Mantilla. “Despite a new roster, I’d like to say that one of the strengths of this team is its beaters. I feel like the beaters know a lot about the game and will be able to make a lot of important plays.” CFQ isn’t the oldest team in the South, but it has been a fixture in Florida quidditch since World Cup V; as rebuilding years are often make-or-break for teams, it seems this fall presents an opportunity for CFQ to create a truly flourishing, dominant program for the first time. As for new players, Mantilla seems optimistic. Jesse Alsing, a new chaser, will be able to execute the plays needed to win games,” said Mantilla. “And Alec Lightwood, another new player, shows great progress in learning how to beat.” CFQ was present at Canes Classic on Sept. 26; it has not committed to or decided on whether it will be conclusively attending any other tournaments. Departing players are beaters Josh Brown and Jared Kostick.
Photo Credit: Nearly Headless Knights
University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Correspondent: Brittany Laurent The University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles are based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. For the 2015-16 season, John-Wesley Smith will be captain, and Laurent and Vincent Kennedy will be the co-captains. USM plans on practicing three times a week in the fall. “I think the biggest challenge for the team, especially with all of our departing players, will be getting our incoming freshmen into competitive shape,” said Laurent. USM can confirm attendance to Tulane University’s third annual Crawfish Cup on Oct. 10, FSU’s third annual Renegade Cup on Nov. 7, and UNCC’s third annual Gold Rush Cup on Oct. 24. The team will be hosting its third annual Hub City Cup next spring. Departing players include are Heather Burg, Anna Hotard, Nicolas Kubicki, Lauren Thompson, and Justin Vandergrift. The Quidditch Post requested a team photo but did not receive one in time for publication. The following teams have not responded with information: Florida State University. Florida Atlantic University will not have a team this season. According to the knowledge of Quidditch Post staff, Alabama boasts no teams for the 2015-16 season. James McBrayer is currently working on organizing what is likely to be an unofficial team for the 2015-16 season based out of Atlanta. Austin Gatewood is currently working on organizing what is likely to be an unofficial team for the 2015-16 season based out of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. If your team has not been included in this article but is interested in being added, please email

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