Saturday, November 17, 2012

The End of An Era

For five years, from Battell Beach, the birthplace of Quidditch to a magical last stand under the lights of Icahn Stadium, Middlebury has always been the champs. Remember the festive atmosphere at the first three World Cups, beneath the green mountains of Vermont or the quick, agile play at Dewitt Clinton Park that led to complete dominance. Remember the big bad Middlebury, that spurred a nation wide campaign to "Beat Middlebury" or just physically wear them down so the next team could do the honor. What did Middlebury ever do to be hated though? Quidditch is the culture at Middlebury. Students play quidditch for tens of intramural teams to have fun. Throughout the past two years, Middlebury has seen the quidditch world changing around them and instead of bending into an ultra-competitive, physical squad, from a big university, Middlebury opted to stay hidden, rarely playing at tournaments outside of the World Cup.
As the quidditch community changed around them, Middlebury didn't. Yet, unreasonable hate was thrown at Middlebury for being good. It especially bugs me when somewhat of a Cinderella run at World Cup Five, was tarnished by accusations of a conspiracy with the IQA. Yes, they were down 40-0 against Marquette until the game was called, but any sane person knows that the IQA and Middlebury aren't in "conspiracy cahoots." The only Middlebury alum at the IQA is Benepe himself. After that, Middlebury pulled off a win against Boston on a snatch after a miracle comeback. Defeating powerhouse UCLA, and matching the Bruins competitiveness put the small college under the lights at the largest World Cup in history against heavy favorites Texas A&M. Yet again, Middlebury pulled a come-from-behind snatch against the Southwest powerhouse. Finally, Middlebury met Florida, another underdog in the final. In the matchup of underdogs, Middlebury let a lead slip away after star chaser Phil Palmer had to be carried off in his final game, but miraculously Middlebury pulled the snitchsock for one final shining moment.
The Quidditch World looked on resentfully as the champs celebrated for a fifth time. However, now, that is all over. Middlebury will not even play at the Sixth Quidditch World Cup. After five years, quidditch is headed in a completely different direction. The first World Cup in a place where Alex Benepe is not currently living is another sign that Middlebury's influence is fading. Hopefully though, Middlebury's contributions will not be forgotten or unappreciated. Middlebury was the perfect balance of whimsical and competition during its regin as World Champs. At World Cup Four, I remember the valiant efforts of teams like Pitt, Michigan State, and Tufts to dethrone Middlebury. And, ironically, the original losers, Vassar, did the duty of denying Middlebury a Sixth World Cup championship at the qualifying stage at NERC. I can only hope that someday, we will see Middlebury revive and win a World Cup again, becuase they are such a positive proponent of balance in the Quidditch World. To finish off, I would like to say two things. 1) to any team that thought Middlebury got an unfair advantage from the IQA, I hope you see that they got dealt a pool of death today at NERC. 2) Thank you to Middlebury Quidditch for giving us the sport we love.

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