Sometimes I fangirl about my own team….
New seasons breed new unpopular opinions, and boy do I have a doozy for you.
The Midwest will underwhelm at World Cup.
Gasp?! The guy who is always quick to defend the MW, probably a little too much, is dissing on the Midwest? That’s right, and here’s why.
1) The Midwest lacks elite dedication levels. If you want to build an elite program, you need to have great athletes who are fully dedicated to bettering themselves. There are a few teams in the Midwest who can say they have this, but not many at all. OSU and BGSU are probably the best examples of teams who are dedicated, but even the best of dedication wanes in the winter. Speaking of…
2) Winter quidditch sucks. Yes, it’s fun to play in the snow (debatable, I hate it, but lots of people love it), but all snow quidditch really does is teach you that it’s okay to mishandle passes and that wearing more layers is more important than playing full speed. No, it’s not the Midwest’s fault that they’re cursed with bad weather (or Canada, NE, and the MA for that matter), but snow quidditch is not World Cup conditions, and it’s just about all we get until maybe a few weeks before World Cup.
3) Inter-regional play is nearly impossible. Possible, yes, but mainly to the Mid-Atlantic, which is the region most similar to the Midwest. Kansas/Mizzou can get some tournaments in the SW, which will help them immensely if they choose to go, but the rest of the region is isolated from warmer, more elite competition, which means they’re very limited in what they see, and watching film can only show you so much. If you want to be ready for anything you might see at World Cup, you have to look outside your own region, and that’s just not possible for a lot of MW teams.
Now, I’m not saying the Midwest will pull a South and totally flop at World Cup, but I don’t see any team except maybe Kansas on the back of Kier Rudolph making it past the sweet 16. I think the Midwest will still get the most or second most teams into bracket play, but the lack of playing against other regions’ best teams and the lack of real quidditch for the months leading up to World Cup will be the Midwest’s undoing.
As it stands, I think all the regions have at least 2 sweet 16 caliber teams, and I think the Midwest has 6 sweet sixteen caliber teams (they won’t all make it, obviously), but I also think over half of the elite 8 will be SW or W teams for the aforementioned reasons.
Walk by Sherlock Park on any particular Sunday, and you will see quite the peculiar sight. Set up on either side of the field are what seems to be three hula hoops attached to poles. In front of the hoops on either side are people running with what seems to be lengths of PVC pipe between their legs, all while throwing several various types of balls around. You can even hear the sounds of people getting tackled. Nothing seems to make sense, but that’s because it’s a game of Quidditch. In case you were wondering, Tech does indeed have it’s very own Quidditch team
Quidditch is known to many as the fictitious sport in Harry Potter; however, in contemporary college circles, the sport is very real. Muggle Quidditch, as it is often called, was created in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Vermont. This full contact sport mixes elements from rugby, dodgeball, and lacrosse and has taken off in the last eight years. There are now over 300 teams across the United States with countless others internationally.
Seniors Kellie Davis and Landon Smith, the captains of the Golden Hippogriffs, are responsible for the formation of this organization. It all began when Davis saw a news article on the internet one day about Quidditch World Cup V and how fast the sport was growing. Surprisingly when she told someone about maybe starting a team at Tech, she received a positive response. Davis and Smith then went through the long drawn out process of getting the team established. Through the mountains of paperwork, countless meetings, and hours of lost sleep, they never lost sight of their goal. Finally, Davis and Smith were able to prove to the higher ups at Tech that Quidditch would be an asset to the school’s community. Davis added, “It was a hassle, but I’m glad we got it started. We didn’t know anybody our first year and a half here. Now when we walk around campus, we always know somebody.” Despite the hassle, the formation of this team has benefited people in more ways than imaginable.
This organization has also brought people from all different backgrounds together. People who would normally not associate with each other, the nerds and the athletes, find common ground on the pitch. Davis elaborated, “Everybody is here because it’s just a lot of fun. It fuses so many different things and there’s so much going on at once but it’s new, it’s exciting.” This excitement has not only sparked new friendships but a few romances as well. “We’re better than eHarmony,” joked Davis. There are currently about twelve couples on the team with more possibly forming as the semester ends. This sport has brought together people who may not have met otherwise.
Since it’s inception last year, this team has accomplished astonishing feats for a group so young. The Golden Hippogriffs came out of nowhere at last years regionals to sweep second place beaten just by Miami. This earned them a bid to the coveted World Cup VI where they ultimately came in 32nd in the nation. This year the team’s goal is to go even further and claim the title of the World Cup VII champions.
Despite this stellar start, the team has not been without a few challenges.What was once a team of six about a year and half ago has know grown to a team of sixty plus players. The growing numbers have been the main source of issues this year. When a team expands so rapidly, it can be hard to keep control. Davis reaffirmed, “Gosh! There’s just so many people to keep up with. It’s a blessing and a curse.” As in the case with the Golden Hippogriffs, practices have become a lot more hectic and it has become harder to give all players equal playing time.
In spite of its nerdy origins, the Golden Hippogriffs have been receiving positive attention across campus. Most people are generally interested. They will ask questions, stop by and watch practices, etc. The team will also occasionally sell butterbeer as a fundraiser, and there is always a long line. “We feel pretty accepted,” Smith responded. It shows. There is always a great turnout for home games, and the team is never mocked for doing what they love. It really is a sight to see.
Not only has there been attention across campus but across the nation as well. Last year when they took second place at regionals the Golden Hippogriffs and Tech made it on the front page of MuggleNet, the largest Harry Potter fansite. Not many people hear about Tech as a school. According to Davis, they still get called the Tennessee Team. “It’s really getting Tech’s name out there. I think we are representing the school well in the Quidditch community,” Davis stated. It brings positive attention to what the school has to offer.
Unlike many other sports teams, in Quidditch no one is excluded. No matter what sports ability, age, position etc. People are always welcomed with open arms. A week before regionals, you can bet people can and will still be added. Before World Cup? Sure. As long as you’re interested, you can be on the team. Why should a student join this team? “It’s fun, nerdy, you’ll meet a lot of people,” Davis added. “Plus, we have really bitchin’ uniforms,” Smith interjected. Bitchin’ uniforms indeed. Despite that, this organization has more to offer than awesome uniforms. It fosters a sense unity on campus and is probably the most unique thing you will ever be apart of.
*Photos courtesy of Kelli Anne Morton
Sext: I’m buying you a new broom for quidditch