The Appalachian Quidditch team traveled home from its conference tournament in Greensboro last Saturday after a disappointing loss to UNC-Chapel Hill in the championship round.
Appalachian took second place out of 13 teams from the Carolinas Quidditch Conference. It also received the Sportsmanship Award, which was determined by the votes of participating teams.
This was the second annual conference tournament, named the Greensboro Gauntlet for its host team and location. Appalachian placed first last year, defeating rival UNC-CH twice in a row for the championship title.
Despite its victories in the 2012 Gauntlet, Appalachian was not as successful Saturday. After winning games against UNC-Wilmington, Coastal Carolina University, University of South Carolina and UNC Greensboro, Appalachian lost 120-40 to UNC-CH in the final match, although the Boone-based team did catch the snitch.
“In the end, we had to pull a Viktor Krum and end the game down by 80 points,” said Appalachian Quidditch vice-commissioner Peter Selden, referring to a character from the “Harry Potter” novels who caught the snitch for his team to finish a brutal World Cup game they were losing by a large margin.
Catching a snitch, which in Muggle Quidditch is a ball in a sock attached to the back of a runner’s pants, ends a match and awards the successful seeker’s team 30 points.
“Our seekers spent most of the end of the championship game keeping Chapel Hill off of the snitch,” Selden said. “They both can rumble. Nobody was ending the game until our team was good and ready.”
Sophomore seeker Michael Dellinger was told to delay the UNC-CH seeker until Appalachian could catch up in points. But with the score 120-10, the team voted to finish the game on its own terms, and Selden gave Dellinger the signal to catch the snitch.
“Holding off the other seeker was probably the hardest thing to do, because all you can really do is outmaneuver and overpower them,” Dellinger said.
He and freshman seeker Grey Shamburger did not miss a snitch all day.
“I caught two snitches, contributing to our total of five,” Shamburger said. “The tournament was a great experience, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to share it with.”
The crowd of spectators, composed primarily of tournament participants, cheered for Appalachian throughout the championship game.
“We may not have gone home with the trophy, but we went home with a field of competitors chanting ‘App State,’ and to me that is better than coming in first,” sophomore chaser CJ Coronado said.
Selden said he was disappointed that Appalachian lost, but that “UNC earned the trophy.”
“Their team is extremely well-drilled and well-conditioned,” he said. “It’s not so bad losing to them.”
Sophomore and UNC-CH Quidditch President Alex Drose said her team was “determined to win” after Appalachian narrowly defeated them in the finals last year.
“We knew that App would be tough competition headed into the tournament,” Drose said. “When we found out we would be playing them in the final, we weren’t surprised.”
After the game, Appalachian and UNC-CH players shook hands and hugged.”I love that we have such a great friendship off the pitch and can remain so competitive during the games,” Drose said.
Quidditch Club of the Carolinas
There is one Quidditch team that has to get along with other schools, because it’s made up of them.
Quidditch Club of the Carolinas is composed of 21 Quidditch players from all over the east coast (primarily the Carolinas), handpicked and captained by App State graduate student and Appalachian Quidditch chaser Nathan Love.
“We wished for a more competitive season,” Love said. “We formed the team to compete at the highest level.”
And QCC has done just that. In November, with a handful of ragtag players, the team entered its regional tournament in Roanoke, Va., and ended up qualifying to play in the sixth annual Quidditch World Cup, shocking the Quidditch community.
“We were the dark horse team,” Love said. “It came down to the wire, and we pulled it out.”
QCC will travel to Florida in April to compete in Division 1 against 60 teams from five countries, including Canada, Australia, France and Mexico, according to worldcupquidditch.com.
To form his team, Love chose 10 players from Appalachian and two from UNC-CH, as well as athletes from UNC Charlotte, NC State University, the University of Richmond and others.
Though Love attends App State, plays for Appalachian Quidditch and participated in the Greensboro Gauntlet last Saturday, he said his relationship with his QCC teammates from different schools, especially rival UNC-CH, is not an issue.
“We get along well – it’s a friendly thing,” he said. “Like, ‘Ahh, we’ll get you next time, but today we’re allies.'”
Junior beater Sean Ecker is one of the 10 Appalachian Quidditch players selected to compete on QCC. He too played in the Gauntlet, and said he is proud of his teammates from UNC-CH for taking first place.
“I have become friends with the UNC players and enjoy them on [QCC],” Ecker said. “Each is really talented and beneficial to the team, and I liked playing against them in the N.C. championship. If I can’t win, my friends winning is the next best thing.”
While Appalachian Quidditch has finished its season, Ecker, Love and the other members of QCC are hard at work training for the World Cup.
Though Love doesn’t expect to win, he said he thinks his team has the potential to “surprise everyone.”
“We didn’t think even we would make it this far,” he said. “I think we have helped to show, and will continue to show, what the future of Quidditch will be.”
World Cup VI will take place in Kissimmee, Fla., April 13-14.
Story: ANDREW CLAUSEN, Sports Editor
Photo Courtesy: ELLIE BELCHER