Months after the VCU Quidditch team successfully raised enough funds to appear in the sport’s annual tournament, World Cup 8, the payoff was reached.
Set at the Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 11-12, the culmination of the competitive season welcomed more than 80 teams spanning the nation. The World Cup was played under Swiss tournament style rules. In the Swiss system, the top-24 teams advance after five games with only two or three teams making the cut. Teams with 5-0 and 4-1 automatically advance. Over the course of the weekend, VCU played in five games total, winning two.
“We were really vying for the 3-2 spot,” said Tommy McPhail, Wizengamot Quidditch of VCU president.
The team dropped their opening contest against the University of British Columbia 90-50, but bounced back with victories against the Long Beach Funky Quaffles, 110-50 and College of Charleston Quidditch, 140-70. The encounter with the University of Texas-Austin saw a VCU loss, 50-40. The Austin match was followed by a battle with the University of Texas A&M wherein the Rams fell, 260-50.
The University of Texas were crowned the champions, winning its third-straight championship.
After former head coach Shaka Smart’s departure for Texas, VCU Quidditch had the first shot at school revenge, playing the University of Texas-Austin (UT’s secondary team) in the closest game of the weekend. Austin Quidditch was able to pull out a narrow victory, 50-40, with a snitch catch, which is worth 30 points and ends the game. For VCU fans salivating at the opportunity to defeat the University of Texas, there’s hope.
“There’s always next year,” McPhail said.
VCU was one of 11 teams representing the Mid-Atlantic region. The University of Maryland, a Mid-Atlantic competitor, advanced to the tournament’s Final Four. VCU was pitted against non-conference foes in all five outings, a circumstance McPhail expected. VCU Quidditch played exhibition games against teams from different regions in preparation.
“Playing teams from different regions really helped us grow as a team,” McPhail said. “Overall, our goal in playing at World Cup is to improve our skill. Facing top-tier teams helps bolster our gameplay while showing us what we need to work on for the coming year.”
McPhail was impressed with the team’s progress and how VCU’s new players fared.
McPhail was equally grateful for all of the support the Richmond community offered in helping VCU Quidditch reach their goal of attending the World Cup, adding that other teams in the tournament knew of their campaigning efforts and looked to emulate their success. Sugar Shack Donuts, the biggest donor, helped pay for team expenses. Weeks ago, McPhail made on the Kickstarter prize and on his promise to get a tattoo of Sugar Shack’s choosing.
“The tattoo was a maple-bacon donut snitch on the right bicep and it paid for all our hotels,” McPhail said.
Done by Salvation Tattoo artist Nate Moretti, the tattoo is approximately seven inches long. Moretti drew up the idea and asked if McPhail approved.
“I said ‘yeah’ and that was it,” McPhail laughs.
McPhail is one of 11 seniors departing the team this semester. The others include August Wade, Erica Bennett, Jason Gardner, Amanda Ortman, Dan Newton, Lee Reid, Todd Zimmerman, Brandon Coffrin, Scott Torres and Randi Bright. Although graduating, McPhail believes he’ll stay involved in the sport in some capacity.
“I think my time has come as a competitive player,” he said. “I may stay involved in a volunteer capacity or support capacity, but I think the time has come for some new blood.”
McPhail said he feels the last four years have been “transformational,” both in helping players new and old and helping quidditch gain legitimacy. Now, the next generation of players will look to continue the string of success and moral victories for the sport.
“It’s been my honor and I wouldn’t trade it,” McPhail said about his tenure with VCU Quidditch. “The future of the VCU quidditch team has never been brighter.”