Scene: Argonauts Thursday Night Practice

MANAGER Barcelos, chatting with CHASER COACH Oelze, mentions the Year in Review that ROOKIE Ardin Lo wrote about his college squad, Cal Quidditch.

ROOKIE: Hey Liz, can you share it on Barcelos Knows?

MANAGER: Are you kidding? You wrote about me as a player. That’s never happened before. Of course I will.

ROOKIE: Yes! We finally made it.

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NCQC You Next Year

I started to draft this on Tuesday morning, my body still aching from the weekend. I went from fourth string to second string and played seven games in two days. I finally played against my alma mater but I didn’t come away with the championship that I obviously, desperatly wanted because NorCal crowned a new champion.

There’s a lot to unpack. Let’s get into this.

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Road to Regionals: Wrecked in Roseville

If my first year of quidditch was about exceeding nonexistent expectations, then 2014-2015 was the year of high expectations that ended in disappointment. This was a team that had gone to World Cup for the first time and had the potential to go back. We certainly had the desire, anyway. An overwhelming, win at all costs desire. There’s no way to talk about that regional without looking at the whole season.

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NCQC @ SJSU Photos

I feel like I’m plateauing as a photographer. I’m getting more comfortable in Lightroom, I’m not afraid to crop my photos to get the composition I want, but the blur problem is still very real. I haven’t had much time to put a lot of work into improving my skills before I get to the uploading and editing photos phase. I also wonder if my current setup is good enough to get the crisp shots that my friend and inspiration, Seabass Photography, does.

Excuses. I hate them.

I’m planning on testing some new things at local practices before I head out to West and Northwest Regionals to shoot (and in the case of the former, get some play time, too). I’d like to shoot at US Quidditch Cup 10 but I don’t think my skills are there yet. I still have time to improve, but not much.Until then, here are some of my favorites and some musings on how I can do better.

Until then, here are some of my favorite shots from this weekend and some musings on how I think I can do better. Find the whole NCQC @ SJSU gallery here.

carlos-flying

It’s always a thrill capturing those moments when players look like they’re flying. Harry Potter doesn’t keep me in this sport, but it did get me here in the first place.

candid-steven-and-forrest

Candid moments just off the pitch are some of my favorite subjects. I’m a big fan of the human element of the sport. Forrest recruited his fraternity brother Steven this year.

damnit-clike

This could have been an amazing photo. Damnit, Clike!

matt-and-ra

Call me vain, but I always wished for more photos of me when I was running tournaments. So I decided to do Ra and Matt a solid for going above and beyond this weekend.

jose-dunk

Jose always gives me great drive to the hoop and dunk shots. I just wish I could shoot them better.

pfenning-dunk

Ryan always gives me great aerial dunk shots. I still wish I could shoot them better.

 

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.

Enough.

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.