by Cally O’Neill Quidditch is not a sport most people simply drop from their lives after devoting long hours on the pitch. Quidditch players from Minnesota are no different. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMN) has one of the largest intramural leagues of quidditch in the world – with over 160 players involved in this semester alone – so it is not surprising several of those players would continue playing after graduating from college.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Nice QCMinnesota Nice Quidditch Club (MNQC) sprang forth this year as a new option for those hearty souls who want to be involved in quidditch post-graduation. Captains Joshua Zemke and Cody Narveson, both recent UMN graduates and previous players for Minnesota Quidditch (MNQ), created MNQC in the late summer of 2015. Both players loved the time they spent with MNQ’s team and wanted to extend their time involved with the sport. As they moved away from campus, they decided they didn’t want to take up beater spots on MNQ’s competition team roster that could be filled by newer, developing players, so they went on to found MNQC. Narveson and Zemke have been to plenty of tournaments – both official and fantasy – and witnessed firsthand how elite teams are run. They’ve also had plenty of opportunities to captain various teams themselves. Between the two of them, quidditch knowledge is not in short supply. Quidditch experience in hand, Zemke and Narveson took the next – and arguably most important – step to crafting a new team: spreading the word to quidditch players and friends. A few MNQ graduates joined, but for the most part, the captains recruited friends of friends who didn’t need previous experience to play. “From an organizational standpoint, I think this team will only get better and better with time,” said Tim Ohlert, a captain for MNQ. “Narveson and Zemke are working hard to recruit and each graduating class at Minnesota is likely to bring a couple more great players to the team.” Cole Wensman, a chaser for MNQ, echoed the sentiment. “I do see them having standout strategists in Zemke and Narveson… [especially as they] know the quidditch world very well,” said Wensman. Before MNQC sprang to life, the only community team in the state was TC FROST. As MNQC grows, tension may swell between the teams as MNQC’s creation could split the number of players trying out for TC FROST. For now, though, current tension seems to be limited to the natural competitive drive to achieve victory. “I think [TC FROST would] like to keep its title as the second best team in the area and I think we’d like to take that from them,” said Taylor Zastrow, a current member of MNQC and a previous beater for MNQ. The close relationships and shared memories between MNQC and MNQ make it difficult to for MNQ captain Hallie Schley to imagine a rivalry between the two teams. “I don't think I'll see them as rivals,” said Schley. “It's hard when so many of them are my friends that I've played with in the past. Games against them will definitely be interesting though.” The lack of rivalry might stem from the close-knit community built upon the foundation of MNQ. From the fall of 2013 to the summer of 2014, a plethora of quidditch players lived in a single household fondly referred to as the Quouse. Quidditch parties and competition team meetings came to life within its walls. Ohlert, Zastrow, Ashley Novitsky, and Nick Berg are the only Quouse members still currently involved in competitive quidditch. At the time the Quouse existed, six of the nine housemates played quidditch. Zastrow, Novitsky, and Berg all transferred from MNQ to MNQC this year, bringing the strength of MNQ with them. The common history among members could pose issues for future games between MNQ and MNQC. “They know what our style of play is like, and we know a lot about a majority of their players,” said Schley. Even if MNQC and MNQ did not have an overlap of players, the camaraderie would still be there since the three teams are based in the same city. “As with TC FROST, I will always cheer for Nice when the team is playing someone else,” said Carly Eichten, current MNQ beater. “Gotta have that Minnesota pride!” Rivalry or no rivalry, several MNQ players intend on joining the team after graduation. “Would I consider joining the team? I would absolutely consider it and encourage others to do so as well,” said Ohlert. “I think the team has great leadership and a lot of potential. More than that, I think they would be a fun team to play for. What more is there to like?” It seems Minnesota Nice Quidditch Club lives up to its name, but should not be underestimated on the pitch. Sometimes, the nicest things are also the fiercest.