Photos by: Isabella Gong and Jessica Jiamin Lang
Editor’s note, October 28, 2020: The original version of this article contained an error. Amanda Dallas was not credited as one of the co-founders of MLQ. We, at USQ, regret the error. More broadly, this article and others in the history series will be updated to address the lack of diversity in the original text of Quidditch Turns Ten, as well as to more thoroughly discuss quidditch in the past 5 years. Each article will be reviewed and re-released for more inclusivity. Current and past quidditch community members will be invited to contribute to the updated articles, so that we can more accurately tell the story of the past 15 years and include voices that have been missing from the narrative. More information on how to get involved will be available soon. For questions, email email@example.com.
What’s next for quidditch?
Every year, the sport gains more mainstream awareness and recognition. In November 2015, World Cup 8 was recognized with the 2015 Sports Travel Award for the Best Single-Sport Collegiate Event, beating out the NCAA Division I football championship, Division II baseball championship, and the Women’s Final Four. World Cup 8 was notable for the introduction of an innovative, if complex, gameplay format, called Swiss, and for its tremendous media impact, due to the tournament trending on Twitter and being seen in one of the first big stories on Snapchat.
“The 2015 Sports Travel Award is a prime example of achieving organizational excellence for communities, competitors, and spectators,” said Joe Pickett, president of OAN Sports Marketing and USQ’s event bidding partner. “This award establishes US Quidditch as one of the premier sports organizations in the world today!”
Increased recognition lead to team growth: in the first weeks of the 2015-2016 season, 30 new teams signed up with US Quidditch. And USQ aimed to spur the sport’s growth even more through the priorities outlined in its first strategic plan.
Photo on the left of Maryland Quidditch vs Lone Star Quidditch Club at Worlc Cup 8 in 2015. On the right side, a photo of the crowd watching the championship match at World Cup 8. Photos by Isabella Gong and Nicole Harrig.
Quidditch was also expanding beyond college and club. Amanda Dallas, formally of the NYU college team and co-founder of the club team the Warriors, and Ethan Sturm, Tufts Quidditch graduate, saw the lack of organized quidditch during the summer as an opportunity, and launched Major League Quidditch in 2015, an elite tryout-based league with teams initially representing eight cities across the Northeast and Midwest.
“I’ve fallen deeply in love with the sport in the last six years,” Ethan said in 2015. “USQ caters to a huge amount of teams well, but I wanted something smaller, where it would be possible to control the regular season, the uniforms, ensure player stats and videos could be released weekly—I wanted to package quidditch into something really presentable to people who love sports but have never had the chance to see quidditch that way.”
Throughout that summer, each MLQ team played three games against every team in their division before facing off in Toledo, Ohio for the championship: a single-elimination bracket and best-of-three final.
“Playing in the inaugural season of Major League Quidditch was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Tad Walters, a Detroit Innovator and beater with the Loyola New Orleans quidditch team during the school year. “Having the opportunity to play with and against so many talented individuals I’ve never had the chance to interact with before helped make me a better player and a better person. Playing with the Innovators will forever be one of the biggest highlights of my life!”
Major League Quidditch co-founders Amanda Dallas and Ethan Sturm in 2015 at the inagural MLQ championship, called the Benepe Cup. Photo by: Jessica Jiamin Lang.
After the success of the first season, Ethan planned to expand MLQ into the West and Southwest for summer 2016. “It all comes down to the players,” he said. “They bought into a crazy concept that had no precedent of success. They gave their entire summers, practicing during the week and driving 14 hours on the weekends for games. I’ve always been obsessed with sports, and getting the chance to run something like this is only possible because of all the crazy things that have happened in the last ten years—a great tribute to the work everyone has done within the IQA and USQ.”
For Justin Bogart, who has been playing quidditch since joining the Middlebury team in 2006, the prospect of the next ten years is exciting, although it will undoubtedly bring change. From 2015: “I have witnessed the number of quidditch teams go from one to hundreds. I have played for teams in three different regions. Donte Quinine has taken over as executive director of USQ [in September 2015], and while I am scared of change, I am excited for the new perspective he brings to the sport. But most importantly, I am grateful for the countless long lasting friendships I have made with people all over the world. I have gotten to know so many people through quidditch that I will never have to stay in a hotel room again. And while that might be a joke, there’s some truth to it.”
Donte’s tenure with USQ was brief, and he left the organization in December 2015. Veteran player and organizer Sarah Woolsey was appointed interim executive director, having served as the events director for USQ since 2013. Woolsey was hired as the official executive director later in 2016, and remained in her role until fall 2019. In her time as executive director, Sarah executed and refined the organization’s strategic plan, developed an ethical decision making framework, and streamlined the event bidding and management process. She also spearheaded a marked improvement in the quality of USQ’s events.
Membership wise, the most growth took place internationally from 2015 to 2020. Approximately 300 new teams formed outside the United Staes during that time. Attendance at the IQA World Cup went from 7 teams in 2014 to 21 in 2016—and 8 more teams joined for 2018’s international championship. Domestically, membership growth was slow, but USQ made a number of structural changes to support future teams, including a college/club split in the 2017-18 season and a revamping of the club season in the 2019-20 season.
Other notable changes were the first non-US win at an international championship, ever, in 2016, when Australia won the IQA World Cup (though the US recovered and won gold in 2018), and the end of the University of Texas’ three year winning streak at USQ Cup 9, also in 2016, which saw QC Boston take home the top title. Fan attendance at quidditch events also soared, with USQ Cup 11 seeing nearly 2,500 spectators over the course of two days of competition. Major League Quidditch has seen five seasons of semi-pro competition, and is gearing up for a sixth in 2021.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Quidditch has seen incredible transformation over the past five years, both in the US and abroad. Throughout our history, though, one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the community’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, that people of all genders should have a place on and off the pitch, and that everyone should be supported and uplifted for who they are. These values are shared globally, from Texas to Turkey and from New Zealand to Norway. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new chapter in the sport’s story, one where tournaments are all played virtually and our only interactions are over the internet. Nevertheless, the quidditch community remains passionate about what we’ve all created, together. We are changing the world of sports, one broom at a time, and that’s worth fighting for.
Photos of the US National Team from 2018 in Florence, Italy and the IQA World Cup. Photos by: Miguel Esparza.
Quidditch Turns Ten Coffee Table Book
This limited edition, commemorative coffee table book chronicles the rise of quidditch from the perspective of the organizers, players, and photographers who have shaped the sport into what it is today. Quidditch Turns Ten is a hardcover, 10x13 inch 124-page full-color book, with gold foil on the cover and thick interior pages.