Thursday, October 15, 2015

Division II Returning to Quidditch

By Andy Marmer 

Three years after Division II made its final appearance at IQA World Cup VI, Texas State University - San Marcos is working to revive a tournament that has been widely demanded in the quidditch community. While the tournament remains nameless at this time, the intention is clear: to host 30 of the best quidditch teams that fail to qualify for US Quidditch Cup 9.

Texas State made it to quarterfinals at USQ World Cup 8 | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
A date for the tournament has not yet been set, though April 2 is currently being targeted, based on conflicts with holidays, regional championships, US Quidditch Cup, and other major events on the quidditch calendar; however, most of the other details have already been determined. Tournament Director Beth Clementi opted for a 30 team tournament with six pools of five teams each. 

“Our facilities can hold four pitches maximum,” explained Clementi. “I have been tinkering with schedules a lot this semester and 30 teams was a perfect fit for reasonable pool sizes and game times. One of my biggest complaints about traveling so far for World Cup is that we never get to enjoy the location that we’re playing in. For example, we stayed in a beach-side resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but our team never got to go to the beach. Pool play games go for about 14 hours on Saturday, and then we had to leave Sunday after playing for another eight hours. I set the schedule for the Division II Championships so that players would arrive at the fields at a reasonable time and be done in the evenings early enough that they can explore Austin, San Marcos, or just relax. I’ve received constructive criticism about not choosing 32 teams, but I like pools of five better than four. It gives each team an extra game on pool play day and rewards the top two teams with a bye in brackets.”

Both Texas State and Clementi are experienced tournament hosts. Clementi was on the planning committee for the first Diamond Cup, co-tournament directed the second and sole tournament directed the third and fourth iterations of the tournament. She also was a key figure in planning the 2015 Southwest Regional Championship, which was hosted by Texas State. Additionally, she works with the school’s club sports department, helping with access to fields, staff, and resources. On top of all of this experience, she has five years of playing experience, including a key role on Texas State’s run to the World Cup VII finals, and has been an officer of the team for three years.

Beth Clementi plays beater for Texas State | Photo Credit: Nikki Smith Photography
The larger quidditch community reacted very positively to Clementi’s plans. 

“My biggest worry about hosting the tournament was that out-of-region teams wouldn’t spend the money or take the time to come to this tournament,” she said. “After reading the reactions of the community, I feel confident that I will not have a problem registering 30 teams. I was also amazed that the community stayed on-topic, provided constructive criticism and input.”

Clementi views this as a model for a different type of tournament than those traditionally hosted by USQ.

“I see the tournament to be a stepping stone of what a National Championship could be,” she said. “Official tournaments carry weight within the community because we say they do. I’m not associated with USQ, but why can’t this tournament be just as legitimate as World Cup?”

Clementi thinks this tournament has the potential to be better than past World Cups and boasts many attractive features. The Division II championship will be hosted in a central location in San Marcos, Texas with flights from most major airports to the nearby in the cities of San Antonio and Austin, as well as the opportunities those cities have for leisure. Beyond the geographic disparity from USQ hosted championships that have been in the South for four consecutive years and South Carolina for three is the elimination from this event of many aspects of USQ hosted tournaments that can burden teams.

A preview of the tournament format that Clementi intends for her Division II championship (see full schedule here) | Photo Credit: Quidditch Post
One aspect of this tournament that will be different than a typical USQ-hosted tournament is the lack of Stay and Play, the controversial USQ policy that forces teams into certain hotels, often at rates higher than alternatives, at USQ hosted events. However, on top of the lack of Stay and Play, Clementi believes that many aspects of this tournament provide an alternate, viable model from that used by USQ.

“It’s the little things such as not charging for parking, spectator entrance fees, and knocking down team registration to cover costs,” she said. “The sport is still growing, and the biggest exposure that we can get is to invite spectators and fans out to big tournaments (especially high school age students). By allowing all spectators free entrance, we are getting that exposure. I’m all about frugality, so I have been a firm believer in setting team registration fees to cover referee fees and medical staff only. I’ve done this at every event I’ve ever hosted. Teams are there to play, so they should cover the cost of their games. I don’t expect them to cover the cost of our decorations, or food, or merchandise. If people are interested in buying merchandise or concessions throughout the day, that is where the majority of our fundraising occurs.” 

Clementi currently projects that teams would pay an entry fee of about $150, just a small fraction of typical US Quidditch Cup costs.

“I’m not trying to drain the players’ bank accounts,” she said. “I’m trying to host a great event that grows the sport and encourages cross-regional play at a fair price. I hope that is a message that reaches leadership in the USQ. I’m thankful that I have received the support of members of the USQ team, but I also hope that this tournament will open eyes to how a large tournament could be run and benefit everyone involved.”

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