Get the laughs out of your system now. I know I deserve them. We’ve been through this before. But it’s different this time.
You ready? You’re sure? Okay, let’s do this.
After a rewarding double season with the Skrewts and San Jose State, I am happy (and relieved, honestly) to retire from playing quidditch the way I always wanted to go out: on a high note.
The Moment the Dream Died
I knew I was done playing when the opportunity to play for Team Portugal at the IQA World Cup came up. In 2014 or 2016, I would have jumped at the chance no matter what the cost.
But this is January of 2018 we’re talking about, and I was tired. The idea of flying into Chicago a week before heading to MLQ Champs in Madison sounded like a far more appealing summer vacation than trying to save enough money for a trip to Florence to play for the first iteration of the Seleção Portuguesa. (And this was long before IQA’s fees shenanigans turned me off even more.) I’ll be rooting for the team, I’ll be buying a jersey with Barcelos #85 on it if I can, but that was when I knew that my heart just wasn’t into playing competitively anymore.
And you know what? It was a surprisingly easy pill to swallow.
The Rainbow After the Rain
Having finally accepted that my time wearing #85 for the Skrewts was nearly up, I started waffling on what to do next season. I was ready to stop playing, but maybe I’d stay with SJSU as a coach? Maybe I’d be an unaffiliated head ref? Maybe I’d stay on the Skrewts roster and only play in emergencies? Maybe maybe maybe maybe.
But when the schedule for US Quidditch Cup 11 came out and the Skrewts were scheduled to end pool play with a game against the Rain City Raptors, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. That would be a fun game to play in before I walk away from it all. My first tournament of the season was the opposite of fun to play in. I headed to Crimson Cup full of dread and left full of disappointment.
Our USQC11 schedule, on the other hand, was full of teams I was excited to play against. The Skrewts only played college teams at US Quidditch Cup 10. Now, we were facing teams I either looked up to and respected (Lone Star, Rochester United, the Warriors), or teams that I thought we could match up well with… that I still respected (Raptors and Southern Storm).
I ended up playing in all of those games except against Southern Storm because the schedule was so out of whack that I spent the whole time pacing the sideline and checking in with SJSU to make sure they weren’t going to play while I was playing… and then running off when snitch was on pitch because they were called to their field.
Figures that that’s the one game we won at nationals.
That Raptors match was just as fun as I expected it to be. Even if it ended like too damn many of my other games have: with an overtime loss. Ugh, I don’t even want to think about what my career record/career record in overtime looks like. Not pretty, that’s for sure.
I was playing with my friends against more of my friends, and as much as that is such #NorthwestBullshit, it’s my kinda bullshit. Quidditch should be fun and that game was so much fun to play in. After wearing a white headband out of necessity most of the season, I got to beat. My first play was fighting Mitch Hatfield for a bludger and winning it by screaming “MINE!” and beating him in the face.
(A total accident because I hate face beats, but a hilarious one considering the website we both work for.)
But I like to think I made it up to him, because we ended the hug line of that game sobbing in each other’s arms knowing that we were both done. Like I said: #NorthwestBullshit.
After that, I ran through my first (and last) tunnel for as picture perfect a finish as I am ever gonna get.
Farewell to Sparta
The harder thing to walk away from was coaching my college team. But as the season went on, I became less of a coach and more of a manager. You know, the thing I’m actually good at.
I love teaching new players the basics of the game, but beyond that, I find myself feeling overwhelmed. (Shoutout to Perry Wang and Michael Richardson for their coaching tips at nationals. You were lifesavers when I felt like I was drowning!) I kept it mostly together, but I had some serious deer in the headlights moments in key games. SJSU deserves better than that.
And to be frank, no college team should be as dependent on one former player as SJSU was on me this season. I don’t blame them; I blame myself. I always seem to fill any vacuum of responsibility I come across because somebody’s gotta do it.
That being said, I don’t regret anything this season. When the Texas Problem reared its ugly head and the team had to scramble to rebrand, I was in my element. (More on the brief life of Amazon Quidditch another day. That tale deserves a post of its own.) Bringing in new players and helping them love this sport as much as I do? So worth it.
But most worth it of all was finally, finally getting SJSU a win at nationals. (Shoutout to USQ Gameplay for making Swiss happen.) The one win I got with the Skrewts felt like a relief, a burden off of my shoulders. SJSU’s win was so much sweeter.
Every moment was worth it. Thank you all for letting me be Coach Mom this year. Helping get you to a win made for the best victory lap I could have ever asked for.
Okay, by the strictest definition of retirement, I am done. No more competitive quidditch, no more coaching, nada. I have nothing left to prove. I will never be a better player or a better coach than I was as US Quidditch Cup 11. I left it all out there and I will never have a better weekend as a player or a coach.
However, that doesn’t mean no more quidditch, period. This damn nerd sport is too big a part of my life to quit cold turkey.
So what comes next? Stay tuned.