Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Continuity and Change in Rock Hill

Three years have passed since the World Cup fled the crisp fall of the Northeast for the sunny spring of the South. Along the way, a regular season emerged from unregulated exhibitions and whimsicality drifted into the forgotten past. Regions crystallized with the dawning of regional championships. Pitch shapes, seeking and officiating witnessed astounding transformations to serve a rapidly evolving sport. A new dynasty replaced the old perennial champions, sparking a distinctly new effort to copy and dethrone the best. Small liberal arts colleges virtually disappeared as large universities seized the spotlight. Community teams became legitimate contenders, raising difficult questions and challenges. The original governing body shed its international obligations, allowing distant lands to flourish or fail.


After three years of adventurous experimentation, a new landscape has emerged. A calmer, more sustainable landscape. A landscape where the World Cup has developed into a consistently on-time and successful championship, fostering competitive and healthy gameplay. A landscape where triumphant wins do not guarantee permanent success and heartbreaking losses do not signal permanent decline. A landscape where each new season and each new World Cup is a new beginning. A landscape where the opportunity of tomorrow beckons.
Photo by Hannah Huddle
Quidditch has reached a stage where continuity is acceptable and change is acceptable. Ever since cramming onto Randall’s Island for World Cup V, the quidditch community has gathered at our national championship with a clear vision for how the drama should unfold. Passionately, the quidditch community picked out heroes and villains. With speed, physicality and finesse, the heroes represented the unlimited possibilities for quidditch. The heroes could propel quidditch forward, past the backwardness of capes. Like a superhuman slugger or a lethal scorer, the heroes were heralded and rewarded with infinite name-drops on blogs and spots on Team USA.


The villains embodied the opposite of progress, holding quidditch back from mainstream appeal. The villains rejected the beautiful game and relied on lucky snitch grabs and pesky beating to eliminate the heroes. Each World Cup, new nameless faces were vilified and accused of playing dirty and taking cheap shots. The unexpected accomplishments of the villains were denied, discredited and ridiculed.


From Randall’s Island to North Myrtle Beach, the struggle between heroes and villains headlined the World Cup. As heroes and villains exchanged blows, the quidditch community desperately clamored for continuity or change. If the heroes were the defending champions, we sought continuity. We wanted the continuation of progress and the triumph of athleticism. If the villains were the defending champions, we desired immediate and radical change. We hoped for restoration of the rightful champions, erasing memories of ugly and unearned victories.


Let’s begin with World Cup V. Played in the breezy autumn of New York City, World Cup V was the precursor to the modern era of quidditch. World Cup V bid farewell to the past and foreshadowed the future. Yet World Cup V was far from perfect. Amid a shaky tournament, the quidditch community was screaming for change. We wanted to see Middlebury lose and a new champion emerge. We began a “Beat Middlebury” campaign to unite hundreds of quidditch players behind our common goal. We were disappointed and angered with the events leading to Middlebury’s fifth World Cup title.

A year and a half later, a rejuvenated quidditch community reunited in the sweltering heat of Kissimmee for World Cup VI. Middlebury was gone and change was inevitable. We were hard-pressed to find a proper villain. However, with certain change on the horizon, we wanted to find the perfect hero. We wanted to see a champion that truly embodied the growing athleticism of quidditch. We needed a shining example for quidditch players across the world. We hit the jackpot. We left World Cup VI elated, celebrating the championship of Texas and imagining the bright future of quidditch.


Fast forward a year to World Cup VII and the quidditch community began searching for continuity in the agreeable air of North Myrtle Beach. We anticipated another epic battle in the finals, pitting the best against the best. We wanted to see another uncontroversial, clear and undisputed champion. We thought we had it all figured out. Suddenly, World Cup VII revealed our misconceptions.

We didn’t expect Texas to win back-to-back championships. We weren’t looking for that kind of continuity. We had longed for undefeated Texas A&M to carry on the illustrious legacy of Texas’ World Cup VI squad. We felt that Texas A&M had been denied a shot at the championship in an ugly semifinal marred by stoppages and injuries. We pointed to the opportunities seized by Texas. We weren’t satisfied, but unlike World Cup V, we weren’t 100% ticked off. The attitude was not the same. We began to move on.
Photo by Sofia de la Vega
Why? We began to see the imperfections in our heroes and the virtues of our villains. We didn’t feel as strongly about upholding continuity or motivating change. Ain’t No Ho in Me recolored our views about Texas’ physical juggernaut, showcasing the likability, resiliency and work ethic of the nation’s top program. After losing captain Drew Wasikowski, Texas A&M abandoned their beautiful passing and flawless off-ball movement for illegal hits and yellow cards. The Lost Boys, the darlings of the quidditch community, experienced a ugly and public breakup that quickly threatened their title hopes and avid fan base. The unattractive physical tactics of Texas State were watched, emulated and incorporated into the “beautiful game.” New experiences made us closer, prompting mutual respect and less blind hate, and the increasing size of the quidditch community made us farther away, diffusing flared tempers and bad blood.

With more complicated characters in the drama of the World Cup, we lifted our habitual pressures off the heroes. The usual intrigue about heroes and villains (Could the heroes retake the World Cup title from the villains? Could the heroes defeat the villains again, retaining the World Cup title?) mattered less. The new World Cup experience would not be defined by complete heroism or complete villainy. The great triumph of heroes at World Cup VI and the crushing victory of villains at World Cup V became a relic of the past. Now that heroes had faults and villains had virtues, desperately screaming for massive continuity and change each year was too tiring and too unrewarding. It wasn’t the end of the world if villains succeeded or heroes failed. We settled for little continuities and little changes, perpetrated by both heroes and villains.


World Cup VIII was the living proof that continuity and change are now an expected and welcome part of quidditch’s national championship. When Texas claimed its third straight championship, we didn’t rush to conclusions and bemoan the state of quidditch. We reveled in the invincibility of Augustine Monroe and applauded the results of Texas’ sprawling intramural system. We cautiously applied the word “dynasty,” recalling Middlebury’s hated dynasty. When community teams avenged their World Cup VII disappointments, we adjusted comfortably and turned the spotlight onto the virtues of postgraduate quidditch. However, we wouldn’t have questioned the state of the sport if community teams had fallen once again. World Cup VIII came and went quickly because there was less built-up anticipation for absolute continuity or change.
Photo by Isabella Gong
As memories of snitch range thrillers, no-look passes and improbable long-range beats faded away, we confronted the sudden and unexpected resignations of CEO Alex Benepe and COO Alicia Radford. Before panicking, we peered around and evaluated the current state of quidditch. We looked deep inside, discovered our acceptance of continuity and change and concluded that quidditch will withstand the inevitable shocks of new league initiatives, new champions and new gameplay debates.


At World Cup VIII, we accepted quidditch for what it is. An ever-evolving sport with infinite possibilities for growth and expansion. A well-established sport with enjoyable competition and enthusiastic players, coaches, snitches, referees and volunteers. A flourishing sport made stronger and more resilient in Rock Hill.

JackthePhan's World Cup VIII coverage is not over! The second part will focus on World Cup VIII's continuites (May 13th) and the third part will analyze on World Cup VIII's changes (May 20th).

Thursday, April 30, 2015

World Cup VIII Portfolio

Hi Everyone!
Below I've posted everything I wrote during the weekend of World Cup VIII. All articles originally appeared on usqworldcup.com. I think of my blog as my personal writing portfolio and I wanted to make sure my World Cup VIII writing ended up here.

I can't publish these articles on my blog without thanking the Quidditch Media Coalition. For the weekend of World Cup VIII, the Eighth Man and the Quidditch Post joined together under my guidance. It wasn't always the happiest coalition, but we pulled through and produced up-to-the-minute content. I couldn't have done it without Andy Marmer and Lindsey Garten, who supervised the operation off-site and helped copy edit for hours and hours. Perhaps my favorite part was working with our 30 writers, who sacrificed personal time at the World Cup to report on games. I am proud of each and every writer. To check out other writers' articles from World Cup VIII, go to usqworldcup.com/news. It was also a blast (and a huge help) working with everyone in the communications tent, especially Michael Mason, Meaghan Prenda and Crystal Hutcheson.

World Cup VIII Championship: University of Texas vs. Lone Star Quidditch Club
World Cup VIII Semifinal: Lone Star Quidditch Club vs. University of Maryland
World Cup VIII Semifinal: University of Texas vs. Lost Boys Quidditch Club
World Cup VIII Quarterfinal: Lone Star Quidditch Club vs. Texas State University
World Cup VIII Pool Play: The Warriors vs. Capital Madness
World Cup VIII Pool Play: University of Michigan vs. Ball State University
World Cup VIII Pool Play: Texas State University vs. Lost Boys Quidditch Club

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dynasty: Texas Takes Home Its Third World Cup Title

Originally appeared on usqworldcup.com on April 12, 2015. (http://usqworldcup.com/2015/04/dynasty-texas-takes-home-its-third-world-cup-title/)

Capping off World Cup 8 with an intense, back-and-forth championship game, the University of Texas at Austin defeated Lone Star Quidditch Club to earn its third consecutive World Cup title. Texas seeker Evan Carr caught the snitch, securing a 120*-90 victory.

At the beginning, Lone Star chaser Christopher Scholz jump started the scoring with an outstanding individual effort on brooms up and a runaway fast break goal. Facing an early 20-point deficit, Texas regrouped and stared down the organized and fearsome Lone Star defense. After getting on the scoreboard, Texas chaser Marty Bermudez split the defense and swooped in to tie the score at 20-20.

A series of stoppages slowed Texas’ momentum and Lone Star firmly controlled the next portion of the game. While Lone Star attacked the hoops, Texas suffered a couple costly defensive lapses and settled for poor shots on offense. With athleticism and controlled aggression, Lone Star posed serious questions for the two-time defending champions. However, Texas found an answer in veteran keeper Augustine Monroe. Monroe notched three consecutive goals, shaking tackles, slotting mid-range shots and spinning toward the goal. On defense, Monroe denied a series of Lone Star shots and directed the defense. When the dust cleared, Monroe had suddenly lifted Texas to a 60-50 lead.

Drew Wasikowski and Becca DuPont, two former Texas A&M University stars, responded for Lone Star, using speed and determination to stay in snitch range. With defensive recoveries and interceptions, Wasikowski and DuPont temporarily held Texas’ clicking offense back. Again, Monroe rallied the Longhorns and found chasers Audrey Wright and Kaci Erwin for two more Texas goals.

As the snitch trotted onto the pitch, attention shifted to the beaters and seekers. While seekers took turns grappling with the snitch, Texas beater Michael Duquette battled a furious effort from Lone Star beaters Sean Fry and Mollie Lensing. Catching bludgers and limiting chances for Lone Star’s seekers, Duquette gave Texas’ seekers terrific openings. Finally, after several near snitch catches, Texas seeker Evan Carr came through, triumphantly hoisting the snitchsock before the referees confirmed the catch.

Texas finishes 9-0 at World Cup 8 as the three-time defending champions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lone Star Tops Maryland to Advance to Final Against Texas

Originally appeared on usqworldcup.com on April 12, 2015. (http://usqworldcup.com/2015/04/lone-star-tops-maryland-quidditch-to-advance-to-final-against-texas-quidditch/)

Heavily favored Lone Star Quidditch Club convincingly denied the upset hopes of Maryland Quidditch 120-50*. Lone Star’s blowout win set up a much anticipated matchup with the University of Texas at Austin in the finals of World Cup 8.

Jumping out to a 60-0 lead, Lone Star’s athletic keepers, Drew Wasikowski and Stephen Bell, benefitted from fast-paced gameplay and sailed through Maryland’s defense. With Lone Star’s beaters tearing apart Maryland’s beater defense, Maryland found no answer for the unselfish passing and adept shooting of Wasikowski and Bell. However, the story of the game was Lone Star’s stellar hoop defense. While Maryland created viable chances for goals, each tipped and blocked shot further deflated the Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions. Every shot was contested by a committee of Lone Star chasers and keepers, who swarmed the hoops and lunged at shooters. When a window opened, Maryland repeatedly failed to convert, barely missing short-range shots.

As Lone Star kept the foot on the gas and poured on the goals, Maryland’s offense deteriorated, unleashing wild shots and low-percentage passes. Lone Star refused to let up on defense with aggressive tackling and flawless positioning. As the snitch came on pitch, Maryland seeker Brenden Hutton quickly went for the suicide snitch catch and ended the blowout at 120-50*.

An all-Texas finals awaits Lone Star QC.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Texas Advances to Final Against Lone Star

Originally appeared on usqworldcup.com on April 12, 2015. (http://usqworldcup.com/2015/04/ut-texas-advances-to-final-against-lone-star/)

After overcoming a multitude of injuries and playing a marathon quarterfinal against Arizona Quidditch Club, the Lost Boys were dispatched by the mighty two-time defending champions the University of Texas at Austin, 180*-30.

From the beginning, Texas’ offense proved ruthlessly efficient, rolling out line after line of aggressive and confident chasers. The Lost Boys relied almost exclusively on a two-male beater set of Peter Lee and Chris Seto for defense. Undersized and exhausted, the Lost Boys’ chaser defense never truly had a chance. For perhaps a moment, the Lost Boys appeared to be in contention. Lee and Seto secured bludger control, and Browne hit a mid-range shot, bringing the score to 30-10 Texas. However, despite overwhelming crowd support, the Lost Boys could not stop a dominant shift from veteran Texas keeper Augustine Monroe, which brought the score to 70-20. Around the same time, Texas beater Michael Duquette applied heavy pressure on the Lost Boys, who eventually abandoned the two-male beater set.

All hopes for the Lost Boys faded with an injury to Browne. With limited options on the bench from a weekend of bruising quidditch, the Lost Boys lacked an answer to Texas’ onslaught of drives. Although Browne briefly re-entered, the Lost Boys were well out of range. The semifinal concluded with a snitch catch from Evan Carr and a final score of 180*-30.

The University of Texas advances to the final against Lone Star Quidditch Club. Texas will attempt to earn a third consecutive championship.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lone Star Tops Texas State to Advance to Final Four Game Against Maryland

Originally appeared on usqworldcup.com on April 12, 2015. (http://usqworldcup.com/2015/04/lone-star-tops-texas-state-to-advance-to-final-four-game-against-maryland/)

A day after triumphantly defeating Lone Star Quidditch Club in the preliminary rounds, Texas State University – San Marcos altered its strategy, unfurled a tediously slow offense, and fell to the favored community team in the quarterfinals of World Cup 8. Kifer Gregoire caught the snitch to secure a 160*-60 victory out of snitch range.

At first, Texas State’s strategy appeared to be a stroke of genius. With little defensive aggression from Lone Star’s chasers, Texas State’s ball handlers could wait until beaters Ryan Peavler and Elizabeth Clementi created a no-bludgers opportunity. When Lone Star’s beaters fell into disarray, Texas State’s ball handlers exploded to the hoops, slicing through a scrambling defense. However, Texas State’s shots weren’t falling, and Lone Star slowly began converting on offense. Despite two fast break goals from Texas State, goals from Drew Wasikowski, Craig Garrison, and Sarah Holub lifted Lone Star to a 70-20 lead.

When snitch Mason Kuzmich entered the fray, the pace quickened slightly and both teams traded goals until the score reached 100-50. Texas State looked to be gaining momentum when Peavler was red carded. Peavler’s dismissal proved to be the game’s pivotal event. Soon after Kuzmich was handicapped, Gregoire pulled the snitchsock.

Lone Star will face the University of Maryland in the semifinals.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Warriors Triumph Over Capital Madness

Originally appeared on usqworldcup.com on April 12, 2015. (http://usqworldcup.com/2015/04/warriors-triumph-over-capital-madness/)

In an intense Sunday morning matchup, the Warriors triumphed over Capital Madness Quidditch Club 140*-50, with Warriors seeker Andrew Zagelbaum securing the snitch catch. Both teams formed over the summer from the ashes of the NYDC Capitalists, a community team that disbanded after a highly disappointing performance at World Cup VII.

The opening minutes were characterized by a long scoreless drought. Although the Warriors’ offense appeared more threatening, Capital Madness’ defense stood strong, denying the Warriors goal after goal. With Madness coach James Hicks energizing his team, chasers Brennen Lutz and Steve Minnich turned up the physicality and clogged the middle of the pitch. Simultaneously, Capital Madness placed a beater behind the hoops to counter the Warriors’ passing game. Despite no real offensive threat from Capital Madness, the Warriors’ frustration mounted as goal-scoring opportunities were wasted. When Minnich retrieved a loose ball, raced down the pitch and dove through the small hoop, it looked like Capital Madness could pull off an upset for the ages.

“Both teams… were playing a lot more hesitant,” said Warriors captain Amanda Dallas.

As snitch George Williams jogged onto the field, the score was knotted at 20-20. Luckily for the Warriors, the snitch game distracted beaters, and Williams fended off the seekers. Line after line of Warriors chasers uncovered newfound energy, trucking through a tired Capital Madness defense. First-year Warriors player Mike Beloff notched several key goals, lifting the Warriors out of snitch range. With the scoreline widening, Zagelbaum added 30 points to take the Warriors’ total to 140 points.

“We have big guys that barrel through people,” Dallas said.

The Warriors improve to 3-2, keeping their bracket play hopes alive. After a valiant effort, Capital Madness falls to 2-3. Following postgame handshakes, the former members of the NYDC Capitalists united for one last “NYDC” chant.