VCU Quidditch team starts fundraiser with tattoo reward

UPDATE: Sugar Shack Donuts donated $1,500 to VCU’s Wizengamot Quidditch team for Tommy McPhail’s tattoo reward, their highest donation amount on IndieGoGo, Tuesday.

As of 2:52 p.m. today, Tuesday Jan. 27, the Wizengamot Quidditch team reached their goal of $3,000 on their IndieGoGo campaign. At the time of publication, they had raised only $792.


Taylor Thornberg
Spectrum Editor

Photo by Hannah Huddle.

Tommy McPhail loves Quidditch — so much so that he’s willing to let a potential stranger choose the style and placement of his next tattoo in order to help the VCU team get to this year’s World Cup.

The idea is simple: Any organization, group or individual that donates $1,500 (half the cost of going to the World Cup) will get to curate whatever design they want onto McPhail’s body, permanently. 

His only limitations are no offensive or demeaning designs, and the tattoo must cost $500 or less. The money donated will cover the $500 tattoo and the rest will go toward travel costs for the trip to World Cup 8.

For McPhail, the president and coach of the Wizengamot Quidditch Club of VCU, this is no empty promise.

“I’m willing to obviously make good on the reward,” McPhail said. “I already have a few tattoos myself and I know I’m going to get a bunch more in my lifetime.”

The fundraiser is being done through Indiegogo, and the team has raised almost $800 so far, about a quarter of their $3,000 goal.

This is not the first time the Quidditch team has held a fundraiser like this. In their last campaign they raised more than $4,000, which was then matched by an anonymous donor. According to McPhail, it was the most successful fundraiser for VCU’s club and the most successful Indiegogo campaign for an individual team in college club Quidditch history.

McPhail explained that the fundraisers are necessary because of a lack of school funding due to the club’s status.

“For Quidditch, we have to pay a lot of our costs out of pocket,” McPhail said, “and that’s because we are a club sport not a sport club at VCU. We are raising money to be able to pay for the registration cost, the cost of travel and the cost of hotels for that trip, which is our biggest trip of the year.”

The difference between a club sport and a sport club at VCU is that a club sport is a student organization, while a sport club is recognized by VCU Athletics and receives funding directly from them. While the Wizengamot team has applied for funding through Student Organizations, McPhail says the funding is not guaranteed.

“Historically, the process for applying and successfully receiving funds through Student Organizations is both tedious and not guaranteed,” McPhail said. “When applying for money to cover gas, hotels, etc., there’s a lot that goes into it. This year, the process seems to be improving, but in previous years we’ve raised the funds ourselves to make things more efficient.”

This year’s World Cup 8 will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina on April 11-12. It is the fourth competition the VCU team has qualified for and will attend since the club’s beginnings at VCU in 2008.

This season, the Wizengamot team’s official record is 6-5, although they play many unofficial matches and scrimmages as well. They travel to play games at universities up and down the East Coast, and each year, the team holds a tournament in conjunction with University of Richmond called the River City Invitational, one of the bigger tournaments in the region.

While raising money for the trip, the fundraiser also provides perks for any amount of money donated, the tattoo being the most expensive. Those who donate $3 will receive a bumper sticker with the team name and logo on it. Those who donate $25 will receive a Wizengamot T-shirt or a T-shirt for Commonwealth Quidditch, VCU’s second unofficial team. Those who donate $300 get to travel with the team to the World Cup and watch all the games. Finally, whoever donates $1,500 gets the tattoo reward.

McPhail says that while the idea is quirky, he hopes it might inspire people who are truly passionate about their own club or sport.

“To me it’s almost part of the story,” McPhail said. “If somebody cares about something that much to raise that money to get it put on possibly a complete stranger’s body, that’s really cool to me, and I want to be part of that. At the same time I want to be able to help the team as well.”

Hannah Huddle, a team member, says she thinks the fundraiser will be a success.

“Tommy is a sweet dude who knows a lot of people,” Huddle wrote in a Facebook message. “I think people would want to put a tattoo on him because it’s an opportunity to put a tattoo on someone which, you know, stays on them forever, but his personality makes it better. It’s suited for him to do this, I know he’ll follow through if someone pays through the fundraiser.”

Huddle said she already knows some people who are trying to raise the $1,500, and her only concern is that the donors may want something too elaborate that will cost more than the allotted $500.

Whether or not anyone claims the tattoo fundraiser reward, McPhail says this year he hopes to see the team show strong competitive presence, perhaps even top their place last year as 30th in the world. However, as a senior public relations major set to graduate in the spring, this will be his last World Cup.

“As I graduate I really want to see the team grow in terms of awareness and obviously skill and competitive presence,” McPhail said. “Within the VCU community, I hope that we can use our team and specifically this opportunity to really show people that this is something worthwhile and this is something worth paying attention to.”

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