NCQC Crisis: Blazing Burnouts and Falling Sky
Today’s post was supposed to be about me living the dream of playing at Spartan Stadium. That’ll have to wait until later this week, because today I have to share with you the nightmare that NorCal has been living with for far too long.
I miss running NCQC more than I care to admit. In a world where I’m not a reckless overachiever (if one even exists), I would have stuck with just doing that. The success of quidditch in Northern California is important to me. More than the West (though I love y’all), more than quidditch journalism (I tried!), the most work I put into quidditch was into making #norcalbestcal true and not just a clever hashtag.
However, the things that got in the way of NorCal quidditch living up to it’s potential were also the things that contributed the most to my white hair count. Privately, I thought we had too many community teams. I thought we were diluting the pool of players and hurting our chances of qualifying for nationals. Publicly, I tried to provide everyone with a stable season that didn’t hinge on regionals and nationals, regardless of personal feelings.
Keeping my personal feelings bottled up in the name of professionalism probably contributed to me throwing a very public tantrum last October. I regret that. That was the wrong way to go about things.
Now that my sabbatical has passed (calling my little time out a retirement is a joke at this point), I know myself better. Running my mouth in frustration? Not productive. But a well-reasoned examination of why things go wrong? Productive.
“Get to the point, Barcelos.” Fine. Matt Ignao is a goddamn hero. I did my best to train him up as SJSU’s new tournament director so that my alma mater would be in good hands after I left school. This was his first tournament being the main TD and I was looking forward to seeing him shine and enjoy TDing as much as I do. Instead, making NCQC @ SJSU happen was a feat on par with my West Fantasy struggles last year. Being a TD means dealing with variables you can’t control. The weather won’t obey your commands, facilities can sometimes give you the runaround, but you’d think you’d be able to depend on local teams to show up and play.
You’d only think that if you had no familiarity with NorCal quidditch.
The California Dobbys, Skyfighters Quidditch Club, and Team Firewood dropped before NCQC’s 72 hour window. The South Bay Blazers barely submitted their roster 24 hours before the tournament starts at 1 pm on Saturday, but after the 10 am time originally listed on the USQ event page.
Why these drops? Because these teams couldn’t field a playable roster. Oh, except for the Blazers. Then they were rendered ineligible to play after their coach, Kyle Campbell, didn’t complete his coach certification. Matt had to be informed by the events department the morning of the tournament.
Organizing a conference was supposed to make NorCal stronger as a whole. Instead, teams that fulfill their conference requirements barely missed having their regionals hopes ruined by other teams’ inability to get their shit together. Blazers and Skyfighters literally can’t go to regionals because they didn’t fulfill USQ regional requirements, so their seasons aren’t in danger. SJSU and Stanford, on the other hand, needed this tournament. They’re also consistent about providing venues and volunteers for NCQC events. Instead of being elevated by the conference, it’s dragging them down.
This is the Dobbys’ first time bailing on an NCQC tournament and they’re the only community team representing the East Bay, so I’m gonna cut them some slack. They even provided key volunteers this weekend, helping the tournament run even if they weren’t playing in it. Team Firewood (a combination of last year’s Humboldt State and University of the Pacific teams) is a goodhearted attempt at keeping quidditch alive on those campuses. Unfortunately, it just isn’t working out. These two drops I can file under the “shit happens” column.
No, the problem is with repeat offenders: the Skyfighters and Blazers.
The Skyfighters? I let them play unofficially at the NCQC Community Finale last year because they couldn’t field a gender-appropriate roster. They also dropped from Best Coast Classic with less than 8 hours notice, leaving me to rewrite the schedule the night before. They’re the reason why NCQC requires 72 hours notice. TDs have lives outside of quidditch.
That leaves us with the Blazers. Do I have less than positive feelings about their coach? Absolutely. Pretending otherwise would be silly because it’s common knowledge. But I have the facts to back me up.
Even before Campbell let his team down by not finishing his coach requirement (how were they planning on playing at Anthill Funkdown before it got moved without a certified coach?), the Blazers took NCQC forfeits this fall because they couldn’t field a roster. They forgot to submit a roster for last year’s NCQC Community Finale before USQ’s 24 hour cutoff. I believed in letting the kids play back then, so I let them play unofficially. That led to an entire team getting carded out of a game and a ref of the month refusing to officiate them ever again. They’re the reason why NCQC has a rule about all games being played under official USQ policies, and why there’s a rule banning official teams from playing unofficially.
Having to add this rule broke my heart this year, because one of my dearest friends and fellow SJSU Quidditch alumni, Gil Ortiz, couldn’t live the dream of playing at Spartan Stadium with me. This weekend. (He did still come out to HR and help the tournament run smoothly.) Last year I allowed teams to play NCQC games unofficially and with mercs only to have the Skyfighters and Blazers ruin it for teams that could have benefitted from that rule this year. I hate that I had to include it this year.
I don’t know how to give up wanting to make quidditch better. That goes double for NorCal quidditch. But I think this weekend proves what I always knew: we have too many community teams and not enough people capable of leading them. If you can’t submit a roster on time or field a playable roster, you don’t deserve to be an official team. Period.
I’m not saying everyone on those teams should quit. Far from it; I want people to play. But if you’re on a community team with a history of drops and mismanagement, you don’t owe anything to anyone who can’t give you your $60 membership fee’s worth of quidditch.
I know the Dobbys, Skrewts, and Vipers would be happy to have you.