This past Saturday, 10 teams gathered in Blacksburg, Virginia for the 2nd Sirius Blacksburg Brawl. 8 of the 10 teams were from the Mid Atlantic, there was one Mercenary team and Ohio State also made the journey for some good inter-regional play. Many teams played well, but one team dominated, scoring more than 100 points, holding the opposing team to less than 50 and catching the snitch in every game. And that was the University of Maryland. As Kitty Schaffernoff, a Virginia Tech player and organizer of the Blacksburg Brawl said, "These kids REALLY know how to play Quidditch."
I contacted Sarah Woosley, UMD Quidditch President and newly appointed
IQA Development Director to find out how Maryland has become so good.
Sarah said, "our growth in the past few years has been great. Going from
'what's a broom' three years ago, to... we can compete but probably not
win last fall, to our current standing of being a well known team
across the country." As someone who is in the stages of forming a
quidditch team, I would ask, so how do you get from being a new
inexperienced team to being successful. "(Maryland) prides itself on
working together and communication," Sarah explains, "This means both
chasers and beaters coordinating with each other. We maintained bludger
control for almost the entire tournament thus allowing our chasers to
run in through a much easier defensive field." I think many teams do
position specific drills, but to be one of the best in quidditch, a team
has to practice and utilize multi position skills. Beaters can be used
in a very wide variety of ways, some more effective than others.
All great teams, the Middleburys, Floridas, and Emersons, are cohesive
units and to hold those units together, your team has to be properly
conditioned. "Our conditioning is probably unusual in quantity for a
quidditch team, in that we run sprints after every single scrimmage and
have two (ninety minute) conditioning sessions a week," describes Sarah.
In addition to the two conditioning sessions, Maryland practices 3
times a week. "At the practices we have a smattering of scrimmages,
drills, and games," says Sarah as she goes into detail.
The Blacksburg Brawl also told us about a rising star in the Quidditch
game, who I think, has a great opportunity to be the Tufts of the Mid
Atlantic Regional in November. Virginia was praised by both Sarah and
Kitty, who said of UVA, "definitely a Virginia team to watch out for.
They beat UR via a snitch catch and gave VT a run for their money. I
would predict that they'll become a real contender this year. They're
going to the Turtle Cup, too, so watch out for that." Sarah described
the relatively new team as Maryland's greatest challenge at the
Blacksburg Brawl. "They played very well and their growth from the
previous year is remarkable. If they continue the way they are going
they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the region."
Virginia finished in 6th overall behind VCU, Ohio State, Virginia Tech,
Richmond and champions, Maryland.
In this article, I focused on a great tournament, a new quidditch
powerhouse, and a rising team. Last week, I related the New York
Badassilisks' success to how whimsy+competitive=IQA's success. This
week, I want to talk about how amazing the growth of the IQA has been. 2
years ago, most teams were not competitive and all competitive teams
were from the Northeast. Now, we can identify favorites to win each
regional. Regionals didn't even exist 2 years ago. The World Cup was a
bid from an outside source (not the IQA) and it will be outside of the
Northeast for the first time ever. We as a quidditch community have to
thank the teams like Maryland, the teams that have worked and trained to
become one of the best. Our sport, once goofy and cape-bearing now has
uniforms and trained referees. At my school, I am trying to start a
Middle School Quidditch team and the hardest part is to make Quidditch
serious. If I could only sit them down to watch a Maryland vs. LSU
game... I asked Sarah what she thought of Maryland's chances at
Regionals, "beyond that any team can grow insanely with the new school
year. So as far as regionals go I would be confident to say that we
will be a challenge for anyone we play."