By Nicholas Ortiz
UCI’s Quidditch team left for Round Rock, Texas in mid-April to compete in the Quidditch National Tournament, known as “Quidditch Cup XI.” There, 64 college teams and 48 community teams all competed to become the National Quidditch champion.
Quidditch players engaged in a “Muggle” version of the magical broomstick sport from the Harry Potter series. This physically intense game was created in 2005 by residents of Middlebury College in Vermont.
This April marked the 11th National World Cup, showing how passionate players are for Quidditch. This year, UCI’s team joined them.
“We qualified for nationals last year, going from two wins the previous year to a qualifying bid,” said Quidditch team captain Tyler Hodges. “At our regional tournament, [the team] had a seven percent chance of actually making a bid.”
Because the Quidditch team had so few members in 2017, it was considered too small to be a threat in competition. However, despite the odds against the underdogs, their hard work and dedication earned them a place in the World Cup X tournament.
The team has lost 17 of its players since last year, meaning that new recruits have had to learn to play. Despite their setbacks, they qualified for the prestigious event this year.
To practice for the tournament, the team has done training similar to their season’s practices. Drills and scrimmages are a part of practices and, due to their roster of only 16 members, the team must keep the preparation intense.
“I’m nervous for this event,” said second-year marketing manager Alice Lee. “I’ve never played a sport at a tournament level before, much less a national-level tournament. But I’m looking forward to it.”
Former UCI Quidditch players come to assist practices and to challenge the players more than a typical practice would. Some players commute to California State University, Long Beach and attend Quidditch practices there in order to receive helpful practice tips that they have not already heard at UCI.
The team’s endurance and strength is tested at each practice. The players focus on conditioning first and then run scrimmages to ensure basic skills and adept tactics can be used effectively.
Overall, the team was brimming with enthusiasm and ready for the World Cup. The hard work they have put in was more than enough to make such a large competition a positive experience.
The tournament’s outcome was mixed, as UCI’s team was able to defeat teams that they had never been able to before, but some teams that UCI had defeated previously were able to get the upper hand and take a victory. Overall, the team felt that their performance was overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about making sure people learn from this season,” said Hodges. “Anything coming out of this tournament is going to be a win for us.”