Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Maryland Quidditch: Keys to Success

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."

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