NAU Narwhal Quidditch Team defeats No. 3 ASU in inaugural tournament
Over the last couple of years, the game of Quidditch has slowly transcended the pages of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels and cemented itself firmly as a club sport in universities across the nation. In their first International Quidditch Association (IQA) sanctioned tournament, the NAU Narwhals quickly proved they could hang with the big boys.
On Oct. 29, in front of an enthusiastic crowd, NAU made a definitive statement at the inaugural Quidditch Summit Showdown defeating No. 3 ranked ASU by winning two matches in the best of three series. The A-team split the first two games 50–20 and 10–40. NAU concluded the tournament with a 110-10 blowout victory.
The NAU B-team also came away victorious by winning 70–10 and 70–30, while only conceding one loss of 20–70.
Eric Andres, a junior secondary English education major and captain/co-founder of the NAU Narwhal Quidditch Team, said he was very pleased with his squad’s performance.
“I am really proud of my team today,” Andres said. “We played really well, and they went above my expectations.”
Coming into this past Saturday’s tournament, ASU was undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the nation by the IQA. Averaging only 52.2 points per game, the Sun Devils were ranked the toughest team to score against in the IQA, holding opponents to an average of 13.8 points per game.
None of those defensive stats or titles mattered to the Narwhals.
On Saturday, NAU averaged 66.6 points per game and enjoyed repeated scores by chasers senior Lane Fujikado, senior Scott Nichols, freshman Cloie Bright, senior Amy Larson and Andres. The Narwhals put up more points on ASU in the final match then all their previous opponents combined. Freshmen seeker Porter Marsh recorded a snitch catch in both victories. The Narwhals utilized their speed and physical endurance to outlast a winded ASU squad, who was struggling to adjust to the drastic shift in elevation.
Andres believed Flagstaff’s high altitude played a key role in NAU’s success.
“We’ve worked really, really hard to use the altitude to our advantage,” Andres said. “ASU just wasn’t at the same level at 7,000 feet that we were because, I really worked the guys hard and it really paid off.”
Kimmer Joseph O’Reilly, the ASU Quidditch coach, said while the high altitude did not directly contribute to the loss, his players noticed its impact.
“We definitely need to work on endurance,” O’Reilly said. “I’m not going to say we lost because of it, but we definitely felt it.”
After handily defeating one of the top teams in the nation, Andres said his team is focused on the future.
“We’re setting our sights towards the Western Cup next spring, and ultimately the World Cup again in spring 2013,” Andres said. “It just depends on who is going to be here and who can lead them.”
Since being established this past spring semester, the NAU Narwhals have experienced exponential growth due to an influx of new members. Their original 14 members have now ballooned into 44 players, enough to require an A-team and B-team.
Bridgett Peterson, a sophomore forestry major and captain/president, said she is amazed at the team’s progression.
“We never expected to ever get this big or that we’d be playing the No. 3 team in the nation, it’s incredible,” Peterson said. “I still can’t believe it sometimes, like how big we’ve gotten and how good a team we are now, because last year we were really small.”
Joshua Zito, a senior theater studies major, was one of the hundreds of spectators who camped on the grassy hill overlooking the field to watch the tournament.
“I read the books a long time ago and found out last year that we had a Quidditch team, and started paying attention and now it’s really fun,” Zito said. “I was wondering how they even did it, and now that I see how it works, it is actually a pretty intense game.”
Zito also noticed the inherent risks and hazards prevalent in the game.
“This is pretty dangerous,” Zito said. “They are running around with sticks between their legs and they are breaking on the field. The ASU team has PVC sticks that they use as their brooms, and they are just shattering all over the place, there is still debris of PVC all around the place, they are sharp objects, it’s pretty dangerous.”
Casey Reed, a junior secondary English education major, served as the head referee for the tournament.
“It [Quidditch] is really very fast paced, and I think that is one of the biggest problems about trying to keep an eye on the whole pitch,” Reed said. “It’s a weird mix of rugby and dodgeball in the sense that someone is always getting hit and somebody’s always running around, and you can tackle and you can charge through people and so it’s really difficult trying to keep an eye on absolutely everything.”
Andres is pleased with how far the team has come in such a short span of time.
“It’s been surreal, being one of the founding members of the team and going to the World Cup and getting captainship and becoming an official IQA member,” Andres said. “It has been a whirlwind of fun, and I don’t regret any of it.”