Best Coast Classic: Where Are They Now?
Kissimmee Cooldown Pt 2 will be up later this week, but today I wanted to focus on something near and dear to my heart—and my geography: Best Coast Classic.
Like Consolation Cup, it was a tournament that was geared towards teams that didn’t qualify for US Quidditch Cup. Unlike Consolation Cup, it wasn’t about making the quidditch version of the NIT. I wanted SJSU to host West and Northwest teams that didn’t qualify so that those teams could have something to play for after regionals.
More than that, I wanted a tournament where those teams wouldn’t have to worry about getting blown out by powerhouse teams. I also wanted budding unofficial teams to have a chance at playing official teams closer to their level so that I could nudge them towards being official.
Last year, we had ten teams that we split into a Gold and Silver Tier. It was more like two tournaments in one day. The only thing that teams like the Blacktips and Pacific had in common was not qualifying for USQC9. They certainly weren’t at the same level. The tier system grouped teams of similar talents together and gave teams at two different levels a chance for a tournament win.
It was the most successful tournament I’ve ever run. The Dobbys and U of A won their first tournaments, Pacific and Sacramento State had good games with people at their level. SJSU came thisclose to winning a tournament. We had the first appearance of Snitch Pyne—and Snitch Ra, which isn’t trending quite as well but was still a hoot to watch. And, most impressive of all: IT RAN ON TIME.
This year, however, Consolation Cup was scrambling to fill spots and Best Coast Classic ultimately only had four teams attend instead of ten teams in two tiers. Still, I think it was a successful tournament. I walked away from it feeling far more excited about quidditch than I did from the US Quidditch Cup final. Let me break down why.
Best Coast Classic 2 Teams
1st Place: SJSU Spartan Quidditch
It cracks me up that watching SJSU finally win a tournament after I graduated (and therefore, before me. rude.) was a pit stop on my journey from Spartan to Skrewt, but I really couldn’t be prouder of them. Winning is fun. Fun keeps people in this sport. Next year, they’ll have a title to defend… unless they qualify for the big show.
But you know me, I care more about the logistics stuff than the actual games. Matt Ignao and Kim Cheng took the lead on TDing, with me taking an advisory backseat during the planning phases and being the nonplaying TD on gameday. I still love running tournaments, but I won’t do it forever. These two got a far better experience as TDs than the last time SJSU hosted, and that alone made the tournament a win for SJSU.
Okay, that’s bullshit even for me. Winning the tournament was what made it a win. The fact that it ran smoothly was a bonus.
2nd Place: California Dobbys
I’m not going to pretend I wanted them to successfully defend their championship. They faced off with SJSU for the prize and we all know where my heart lies. That being said, I’m glad they were still able to defend their title in the final. You can’t look at the photos of last year’s winners and this year’s second place team and not see that the Dobbys are in a rebuilding year. They’re a good team, they gave the Skrewts a scare at regionals, and they do the East Bay proud as players and volunteers. I can’t wait to see how they do at the NCQC Championship and how they improve next year.
3rd Place: Silicon Valley Vipers
In spite of everything I’ve said about the Bay Area has too many quidditch teams, I will say this about the Vipers: they’re good for NorCal quidditch. They made the race for the top of NorCal interesting last year, they regularly host tournaments, they never had a problem with drops or fulfilling their obligations, and they’re better at recruiting non-quidditch players than any other community team I’ve ever come across. Sam Fischgrund must have struck a deal with St. Quidditch or something.
And that last point is why I think taking third is nothing to be ashamed of. Several Vipers had their first tournament this weekend. Welcome to quidditch, rookies! I genuinely mean that. While community teams that come and go in the space of a season normally make me roll my eyes (the Great Lakes have a new community team again?!), the Vipers just aren’t in that category.
4th Place: Sacramento State Swarm
This tournament could have been down to just two or three teams and I still would have been happy because these kids got a second chance to play in it. They got swept last year and still had a good time. They got swept again, but they improved over the course of the day. They never got shut out. Their point totals went up with every game. They caught two snitches. There is so much potential.
I had an excellent chat with their president, Justice Brewer, about their future plans. They have about 20ish people who practice regularly, they’re talking to their school about becoming a club sport, and their goal is to become USQ official. They already have people taking referee tests in preparation.
My heart grew three sizes that day.
Teams like this are why I’m still as involved as I am. Teams like this are why I can’t just focus on my own team’s success. This is where quidditch grows and I want to be there for it. I want these kids to have as much fun as I did. As much fun as I’m still having.
Where Are They Now? Original Best Coast Classic Attendees
Anteater Quidditch (Silver Tier)
You’ve probably heard of these guys. Plucky little team, sweethearts of the West, the only college team to qualify for US Quidditch Cup for the first time this year? I’ve been pretty fond of them since I dragged myself to SoCal to ref nine games in a row at Anthill Smackdown. I’m always down to support a college team that’s trying to do good by hosting more tournaments, especially since SoCal didn’t have all that many last year.
They’re a blueprint for college team success that I’m going to be examining this summer. For no particular reason. Really.
They went from third place in the bottom half of the tournament last year to a spot at US Quidditch Cup 10. Am I taking all credit for this? Absolutely not. They worked their asses off this season. Watching SoCal come together to help them made me a little jealous from up here in NorCal. But BCC did give them something to fight for last spring, and if the point differentials had been different, they would have been in the final with SJSU or Arizona.
Pacific Phoenix Quidditch Club (Silver Tier)
As excited as I am for Sacramento State, I am haunted by the specter of the University of the Pacific. With them, I witnessed the struggle of trying to fulfill all the requirements of being an official team for the first time. Cal, SJSU, and Stanford started their quidditch programs before things like ref requirements and individual memberships. They got the luxury of growing up along with the league.
Pacific, on the other hand, got thrown into the requirements deep end. They had all sorts of teams helping them. Sam Fischgrund from the Vipers paid their membership fee. Ra Hopkins from the Skrewts led Google Hangouts study sessions on the ref tests for all the NCQC teams, but Pacific had more players attending than another team. Yours truly at SJSU hosted them for their first official tournament and kept in constant contact with them as their RC and conference commissioner.
And yet, after one season, Pacific is on life support. Several key players graduated. Not just key players on the field like Kyle Sheppod, who plays for the Dobbys now. The bigger loss was losing those off-pitch heroes, players that passed referee tests and provided leadership, like Bri Prebilic Cole and Justin Danaher. Carlos Flores is left trying to keep an ember alive, but I worry that the Phoenix is extinguished for good.
As St. Quidditch is my witness, I won’t let that happen to Sacramento State. Not if I can help it.
University of Arizona Quidditch (Silver Tier)
It would have been cool to see how U of A stacked up after last year, but I’m never going to complain about a team not wanting to drive from Arizona to California since making the opposite trip doesn’t exactly thrill me. They were the only out of state team last year, so I was just happy to see them come. They gave SJSU two great games before ultimately winning Silver Tier.
Stanford Quidditch (Gold Tier)
A Stanford without Hailey Clonts and David Saltzman has been a hard thing for me to watch. They’re in a rebuilding phase under veterans Arul Suresh and Lucien Weiss and I really do believe that bouncing back is only a matter of time for them. Their new additions are athletic and teachable, and they still have some veterans. I missed seeing them this weekend, but they’ll be around for the NCQC Championship.
Santa Barbara Blacktips (Gold Tier)
One of my favorite jerseys and favorite teams. On the one hand, I’m glad that I got to host them for their last tournament. On the other hand, I hate that a team like this had a last tournament. RIP.
USC Quidditch (Gold Tier)
Remember when USC was the top team in the country? Congratulations: you’ve been in quidditch longer than my four years because I certainly don’t. If this isn’t a testament to how fragile college quidditch can be, I don’t know what is. Add this team to the (growing) pile of college programs I worry about.
South Bay Blazers (Gold Tier)
I really hope that I’m not writing a blog post next year about post-nationals tournaments being dead. (Or worse, mourning the loss of more college teams.) I also hope that Consolation Cup bounces back next year, but that’s on the teams that didn’t plan on the possibility of attending, not Texas State. I know that we started Best Coast Classic late this year and didn’t make enough of a push to entice teams. Next year, we’ll do better.
But I hope teams realize that having something to work towards after regionals is important. Not everyone is going to qualify for nationals; that’s not how things work. Giving up on your season in February (or even earlier, if you have a fall regional) puts you even further behind the teams that did qualify.
Even teams that burn out at nationals come back the next season with a full season’s worth of work. Conditioning, experience, fundamentals, etc. These are things that you lose if you stop competing and striving mid-season. The something you strive for may not be a national championship, but there is no absolutely shame in striving towards a goal even if it isn’t the highest.