Rutgers Quidditch prepares for upcoming challenges
The Rutgers Nearly-Headless Knights, the official Rutgers University Quidditch team, are breaking out their Nimbus 2000s in preparation for upcoming tournaments after a long winter break.
The team has improved drastically since last semester, said Phillip Cain, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. These improvements have opened up new opportunities.
Cain, a co-captain of the quidditch team, said they began in 2010 as a club sport and were officially recognized in 2013.
“We kind of started to develop it into more of an athletic group and were led by Chisa Egbelu, who was the old president and captain,” he said. “Lindsay Morella, my co-captain and president of the club … participated in Major League Quidditch over the summer … where she learned a lot about game play, different strategies and leadership.”
Morella has taken the team in a whole new direction, said Jaws Yu, a Rutgers alumnus and the coach of the Quidditch team.
Major League Quidditch brings together the best players to form teams within regions that compete across the United States. Morella came in with a new plan to improve the team, he said.
“All I’m doing right now is making sure that what she needs gets done. She’s got a really strong vision of where the team should be, and I support her all of the way,” Yu said.
Lindsay Morella, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, brought the skills that she learned back to the team.
“(Last semester) our team got a lot bigger in terms of numbers, and also just a lot better,” she said. “ We have a lot of athletes who really know the game by now … this is definitely our best year so far.”
The team played in the U.S. Quidditch Regional Championships in November and are now preparing for the U.S. Quidditch Cup.
Sonni Waknin, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and treasurer of the team, said the team now has more than 40 members, and that their prestige has grown along with their numbers.
There are more than 300 teams in the United States, with the Rutgers Quidditch team is now ranked as one of the top 60 quidditch teams in the country.
Rutgers Quidditch has faced many teams in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the District of Columbia Quidditch Club, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia and New York University.
Qualifying in the top 60 allows the team to move out of the Mid-Atlantic region, and face new teams.
The influx of freshman and other recruits helped to build a solid team that learns quickly, which helped the team move up in rankings, Cain said.
“This has all happened in the last semester, and right now we’re preparing for the National Tournament in April,” he said. “We’re getting back at it after winter break now that people are a little rusty, learning new drills and strategies and stuff like that.”
Besides upcoming tournaments, Morella is hoping to encourage newer players to step-up for leadership positions.
Anyone could join the team and attend the practices, which are usually held on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but are also staggered to work around members' schedules, Waknin said.
“Hopefully other officers will step up so we can fill in the leadership, that’s the biggest thing,” she said. “Most of, if not all, of our leadership is juniors, and a lot of our players are juniors.”
Morella believes it is also important for leaders of the team to become involved in the quidditch community, especially because it makes it easier to work out tournaments.
“I hope we … get some names out there and get our team more involved in the community, because me and the other captain did that and it’s awesome,” she said. “I fell in love with a lot of people in our community.”