Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cool Runnings: The Augureys’ 2015 QUAFL debut

By Victor Tan

Anyone familiar with the 1993 film Cool Runnings will be familiar with the story of the Jamaican bobsled team's debut at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. As the film depicts, a team with no bobsledding experience came from a tropical country to make its debut against one of the strongest fields in history, most notably the legendary East Germans with Bogdan Musiol and Wolfgang Hoppe in their prime. As great a movie as it is, the real life story of the Jamaican bobsled team is even more amazing.

Prior to QUAFL 2015, the Adelaide Augureys lineup at QUAFL had zero games’ worth of experience; the highest level of quidditch previously played consisted of informally refereed scratch matches between teammates at Bonython Park. As a team, our main goals were to learn from our experiences, put the set pieces and individual routines from trainings into action against other teams, and leave QUAFL playing better than we came.

Adelaide Augureys ‘scratch matches’ | Adelaide Augureys Quidditch Team
The team’s mood was simultaneously one of excitement as well as one of apprehension. As the Augureys watched videos of the Melbourne Manticores, University of New South Wales Snapes on a Plane, and the Global Games final of 2014, one could see a different level of fast-paced intensity compared to the relatively static pace and interruptions expected at a typical Augureys scratch match. Would the other teams treat us dismissively? Intimidate us with physicality we could not effectively counter? Rattle us with face beat after face beat? Make disparaging remarks encouraging us to quit? If Cool Runnings was anything to go by, we'd need to be on the lookout for the East German bobsled team of quidditch. Reading the article “The Spirit of Saint Quidditch is Dead” a month or two ago did not help much either.

Instead, a situation more analogous to the real story of the Jamaican bobsled team's debut happened. The other teams were not scary or hostile; on the contrary, they were incredibly supportive. Our marquee neighbours, the Perth Phoenixes, and our first opponents, the Macquarie Marauders, were more than happy to give us pointers on our game strategy, tactics, and general play tips. In particular, Katelyn Stubberfield and Lexie Edwards of the Phoenixes, as well as Geoffrey Talbott and Mitchell Felder of the Marauders, explained the finer points of the rulebook and how to avoid contravening them, plus position-specific tips. Many others offered various pointers throughout the day and offered various things to us, water bottles, first aid supplies, bananas and broomsticks minor maybe to them, but they contributed immensely to the great ex
perience. One of the other teams, noting we had just seven brooms, leaving no margin to account for the very real possibility of breaking one of them, left a stack of broomsticks by our marquee for our use, much like the real life Canadians who gave their spare sled to the Jamaicans in order to help the Jamaicans continue competing when their first sled suffered mechanical failure and were faced with the prospect of buying a new sled at their own personal expense.

Melissa Ann Clark with ‘marquee neighbours’ Katelyn Stubberfield and Shane Young from Perth Phoenixes | Photo Credit: Melissa Ann Clark
Every team we came across was open, friendly, and encouraging, never criticising without a complete and comprehensive explanation of how to improve upon our shortcomings, and never once talking in a disparaging manner. Every one of the numerous injuries we suffered drew attention or concern from nearby players. More significantly, every game we lost was met with humility by the winners, as well as encouragement and advice. Not once did we experience anything even remotely close to deriding or condescending behaviour from anyone. There was no Josef Grull telling us to go home or askingOr what?” as he refused to apologize for foul behaviour. There was no International Alliance of Winter Sports contriving to keep the debutantes in their place.

Lessons were learned outside the competition as well, as we gained invaluable refereeing experience. The tips given to me by Talbott and guidance given by Caleb Shepherd and Joshua ‘Nesquick’ Naismith during the informal exhibition games that I refereed were immeasurable. Refereeing a first match, no matter how informal, is a scary thing, and having those two to mentor me made me feel a lot better than I would have otherwise. In a state with a single quidditch team, words cannot describe how valuable having a referee mentor is.

For all the things factually wrong with Cool Runnings, there is one scene from the movie that played out in reality and once again at QUAFL 2015: in the end, everyone felt adulation and encouragement to return at the next competition. The sportsmanship, empathy, and encouragement shown by each and every team at QUAFL is worthy of the Pierre De Coubertin medal it has been awarded for a lot less. At least one person from every team told us something along the lines of, “We want to see all of you back again next year, each and every one of you. Well, my response, and I would wager that of the majority of this team, is an enthusiastic, “YES, WE WILL BE!”  

Adelaide Auguries starting line up at QUAFL 2015 | Photo Credit: Nicholas Hirst Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment