Wooster quidditch hosted its first official tournament in over four years on Saturday, Sep. 28. The Wooster Scottish Nationals hosted seven other teams from Michigan, Ohio, New York and West Virginia for a great return of the sport to the College. The Nationals were coming off an improved season last year that saw wins against regional rivals West Virginia and Carnegie Mellon. Wooster took this tournament as a chance to give their new players valuable experience ahead of the always tough season against big opponents.
Seven teams from across the region competed in the tournament. The University of Michigan, Grand Valley State, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green State, Cleveland State, Rochester Institute of Technology and West Virginia University drove as much as five hours to Wooster’s campus early in the morning.
Quidditch is played with three chasers and a keeper per team, who score points with the quaffle, a slightly deflated volleyball. Two beaters per side fight for control of three dodgeballs that knock opposing players out of play. After 18 minutes, seekers are released to catch the snitch, a third-party player who wrestles to protect a flag on the back of their shorts. Once a seeker catches the snitch, their team is awarded 30 points and the game is over.
The success of the tournament is a welcome surprise given that Wooster hasn’t hosted a tournament this size in four years. This was also Team Manager Brandon Borges ’20 and Assistant Manager Lyn Santos ’22’s first time tournament directing. “The planning for the tournament was long. Since about June, I had been filling out forms and contacting referees,” said Borges.
With such a long timeline during the summer working with United States Quidditch (USQ), the Great Lakes Quidditch Community and Student Activities, Santos said she had to do a lot of quick problem solving. “Because of some miscommunication between members in the Order (leadership), things that should have been done months before had to be done within a week,” said Santos. “From figuring out the regulations of USQ, sending out paperwork, navigating what was required from Student Activities, to making sure we were financially sound; it was a wild ride.” Captain Peyton O’Laughlin ’21 coordinated team personnel and tournament scheduling to prepare a successful tournament in the end.
On the gameplay side, Wooster took the home field advantage as an opportunity to gain work on the intagibles. “Overall, teamwork was high and, even with two losses, we were able to keep our spirits high and our attitudes in a good space to take on another game and work hard during practices,” said O’Laughlin. While the Scots went 0-2 for the day, there were achievements to be proud of. “Peter Greenwood ’22 went 2/2 at snitch catches, chasers, Claire Jennings ’21 and Justin Clement ’22 made it evident to everyone on pitch that they are truly game-changing defensive players,” O’Laughlin said. Despite lackluster results, Wooster continues to produce great players. Four Scots participated in Major League Quidditch last summer including Borges and O’Laughlin playing for the Cleveland Riff and Laura Ivy ’17 managing the 2019 champions Boston Nightriders.
While these performances shouldn’t be understated, especially Greenwood’s catch percentage, it seems like retreading old ground for the Scottish Nationals. “Areas of improvement would include offensive execution. Many times during our games, our offense couldn’t capitalize or finish on plays,” said O’Laughlin. Wooster has not scored over 90 quaffle points since 2016 in a league where scores routinely exceed 100. However, this is not a new feeling for the Scots who must play against Big Ten schools with enrollments 20 times the size of Wooster. “We are by far the smallest official college team,” said Borges.
Overall though, reception from the tournament was positive. “The tournament ran a bit late, which was honestly perfect to let people wake up,” said Grand Valley captain John Michalowski ’20. Other captains were impressed with such a large-scale tournament being run at a small school. “We felt like the gameplay at [the] tournament was the best in the region that weekend, with the Michigan vs. Miami game as the tournament opener being a great choice. We would definitely come back if it was hosted again,” said Michigan Captain Zeke Majeske ’20. It was something to behold, especially for a senior. “To actually see big quidditch teams like Michigan and Miami competing at Wooster was surreal,” said Borges.