How I Became a Quidditch Performance Coach

A photo of working on a cross step march on the field

A photo of working on a cross step march on the field

So….somehow I went from almost being a D1 track coach to coaching quidditch.  And somehow, it’s one of the best thing to have happened to me this year.  Yeah that’s what I said, I coach quidditch.  And they get it in.  If you have no idea what this sport even is, I’ve explained it at the bottom and there’s a video to explain it better.  Story goes like this.

Coming into this year, I was just chomping at the bit to get this student coaching position with Texas track and field.  I really went and did everything I thought I could do just to be in the presence of Coach T and M (some part of me feels I shouldn’t use their names although it’s easy to find who I’m talking about).  In the spring when I was shadowing Coach T during the spring practice, she ask me if I’d be interested in being a student coach (I figured it was because I had gotten involved with making myself useful and yet not in the way as quickly as possible) as the one she had recently got a job and had to stop.  I met with her the next morning and after she had a conversation with the head coach, it was said that now’s not appropriate since it was already April and the season was coming closer to and end.  She told me to reach out to her over the summer about the next academic year.  So that summer I sent a couple of emails that weren’t replied to, she seems to be one of those people that if your email isn’t very urgent, you may not hear back unless it’s a quick response.  Texas athletics is pretty busy to say the least so no harm done.  Once I got back to Austin after my EXOS internship ended, I went straight to her office to follow up, and she was happy to see me and told me about her busyness.  She immediately emailed Coach M who was across the Pacific, who then emailed back within a couple of hours saying that they were full of coaches.  Oh, great.  Welp, at least I’m first on the call back list if something happens.  In January I’m probably going to manually refresh my email on my phone every hour and check the spam box, you know, just in case.

That having not worked out, I didn’t have any coaching positions at the time and wanting to keep some continuity.  On a mid-August night, I decided to scroll though the recreation sports website and look through different club sports.  And then I saw quidditch.  While thinking back on the Harry Potter movies I’ve watched, I said to myself “Now how in the world do they do that?  I wonder if they’re on YouTube.”  Sure enough they were, and their world cups.  Now I’ve seen the big hoops at the intramural field in the distance while playing ultimate frisbee and had thoughts about it’s supposed dorkiness, but I’d never seen it played.  Let me tell you.  YouTube once again changed my life, most recently it had been John Greene who makes videos about world history and Eric Thomas who talked me into my current bad habit of 4 years now of not sleeping enough.  I’m still struggling for my 7 hours a night, frequenting 5 ¾ hours, but I’m working on it.  Anyways, so yeah, I watched Texas quidditch play world cup 7 (2nd championship of their current trifecta) and was in awe of the sport in 34 seconds.  I recall texting my friend in Philly and my bros in our group chat harping about how physical it was and how athletic they surprisingly were to me.  After watching the entire game, which was only just over 20minutes, I decided I wanted to coach them.  I went ahead and emailed the team email about who I was and what I wanted to do for them, and within 24 hours had scheduled a meeting with a couple captains and the club president a few days later.

That upcoming Sunday night we all met up to talk about who Texas quidditch was since you don’t win 3 championships in a row and get UT to light the tower for nothing, as well as what I can offer to help them win a 4th.  After a good 45min or so of discussion they were sold and so we worked out some probable logistics and they then invited me to tryouts to learn more and meet people.  I immediately texted my Philly jawn (I just really love that word, and that city) in excitement as she pushed me to do it.  Big ups.  I high fived my friend that came along with me and strutted out like a bawse, and then went to go eat sushi.

The following Friday I went to tryouts and was bewildered.  Hordes of future chasers, beaters, seekers, and snitches violently crashing into each other competing for a roster spot.  Some were avid Harry Potter fans, others had not even heard of quidditch before.  Some were good athletes that played American football, soccer, basketball, etc and others were, well, on the other end of the athletic spectrum.  I met some other veteran players while there just walking around observing, recording here and there, I think I looked like some high end talent agent with my Athletes’ Performance shirt on, but I probably didn’t.  I was impressed with the drills and the scrimmage I watched (which was my first time seeing it played live) and was looking forward to the first day.  They had 120 people try-out for a traveling roster of 21 and a B team of a similar number.  120 people.  Mind you, they do have house teams, Gryffindor (this was auto-spellchecked by the way), Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff for those that didn’t make the top teams.

tryout photo

The ensuing Monday we had a team meeting with the “A” to meet and greet.  The team lost A LOT of veterans this last season (only 8 returners of 21) and so many people were very new to quidditch and each other.  We all went around and introduced ourselves and had to include a dance move, I had to hit them with the cat daddy, shoutout to my bro Ferg who got me to doing that freshman year of college.  The captains then got them hyped for the season talking about the team’s history (3x champs, in a row), reputation (very physical), and rivalry (community clubs full of ex-UT players).  Then we watched some videos from previous championships and this hit highlight tape that is below.  They went over some team policies and then I got to introduce myself and how I plan to make them into badass athletes by April.

Soooo, yeah, some of you have this far and are wondering, “what the hell is Quidditch!”  I’m going to make my life easier and quote the US Quidditch page and attach a video “Quidditch is a co-ed contact sport with a unique mix of elements from rugby, dodgeball, and tag. A quidditch team is made up of seven athletes who play with brooms between their legs at all times.”  “Three chasers score goals worth 10 points each with a volleyball called the quaffle. They advance the ball down the field by running with it, passing it to teammates, or kicking it. Each team has a keeper who defends the goal hoops. Two beaters use dodgeballs called bludgers to disrupt the flow of the game by “knocking out” other players. Any player hit by a bludger is out of play until they touch their own goals. Each team also has a seeker who tries to catch the snitch. The snitch is a ball attached to the waistband of the snitch runner, a neutral athlete in a yellow uniform who uses any means to avoid capture. The snitch is worth 30 points and its capture ends the game. If the score is tied after the snitch catch, the game proceeds into overtime.”

https://www.usquidditch.org/about/rules

That’s probably the easiest way to explain it.  Here’s a video.  Please don’t shit yourself laughing, as the people in the video say, its ridiculous.  But fun nonetheless:

 

 

And so from there, the following week we started out Tuesday and Thursday evening training sessions.  Eight weeks in and it has been great!  I get a consistent flow of players although midterms has gotten in the way and now I face late semester time management struggles.  In another article coming soon I will share my thoughts on the performance needs in Quidditch as it’s a unique sport being that the games are only 20-30min long on average and is played on a relatively small field.  Lastly, big ups to my friend Tyhira for pushing the idea to look into this!  She’s busy running the streets of Europe right now, but she’ll see this eventually.

Before our first tournament

Before our first tournament, shoutout to Grandma Betty for housing!

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