Photo by: Harry Clarke
Written by Guest Writer: Stephen Kersey
This article is part of the “History of…” series curated by The Eighth Man and US Quidditch. The series highlights the individual histories of teams that qualified for US Quidditch Cup 10 to help both players and spectators get to know the story behind the teams. Head over to this link to read more.
Five years after Middlebury College made quidditch into a college phenomenon, a little known rural town was about to hear its first ever “BROOMS UP!” Bowling Green, Ohio is not a destination people usually want to go to unless someone is into tractor pulling (it is, after all, home to the National Tractor Pulling Championships). Even then, the small college town is not flashy by any means. But in the fall of 2010, a series called Harry Potter would change the life of many past, present, and future Falcons to come.
Fall of 2010 marked the formation of BG Quidditch. Alexis Moody had wanted to start a Harry Potter club on Bowling Green State University’s campus, but thought someone would before she had chance.
“I first heard about quidditch in late 2009,” Alexis recounts. “As an avid Harry Potter fan, it was becoming big news. I knew Bowling Green didn’t have a team but I figured someone else was going to start one. A year later, no one had and I was dying to play so I started the BG Marauders as a Harry Potter fan club [now F.A.N.D.O.M]. At the time, I just wanted to get the most likely people, Harry Potter fans, to play. Quidditch, for me, is the perfect intersection of my love for Harry Potter and my love for contact sports. My greatest achievement in life has been BG Quidditch and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Alexis went on to be the head captain for multiple seasons, and laid out the foundation of what the BGSU quidditch team is now. After starting the team, Alexis could barely get ten people to show up to practice. Even so, the first BGSU quidditch team won 8 games out of 16 its first semester. While this may not seem impressive, a team with seven players attending a tournament demonstrated their dedication to the game. With the program still expanding, BGSU decided not to attend World Cup IV in New York City in the fall of 2010.
The following semester would change BGSU’s team for years to come. In the spring of 2011, Dan Daugherty, a perennial star player, joined BG Quidditch. Dan had played high school football and basketball, which translated to quidditch easily. His dynamic transitions from one end of the pitch to the other made him a breakout star. He played the game like no other at the time. His success on the pitch led him to become a two-time alternate for Team USA. With his help, BGSU had a bright future.
The following year, BGSU went to World Cup V, but finished in last place. But even with their last place finish, their hearts and competitive nature remained strong.
Fall 2012 – Spring 2013
The Fall of 2012 began a great year for BG Quidditch. They had recruited their best talent since the program started. New players like Evan Adkins, Meredith Taylor, and Kaitlin Richard were all standouts. With BGSU’s new talent, they adapted to new strategies previously unseen in the game. Utilizing star keeper Dan Daugherty as a primary ballhandler supported by several talented female wing chasers as passing options, BGSU would start two male beaters most games, allowing for a faster paced defensive set and quicker goals on offense. This strategy, while a common aspect of the modern game, was utilized by few teams back in 2012. Running the double male line often left opponents flustered, and many teams found themselves shifting their whole entire strategy to combat BGSU’s game. BGSU ended up qualifying for World Cup VI and reached the Midwest Regional Finals, but lost a close game to Marquette. This would mark the first of five straight appearances in a regional final for BGSU.
World Cup VI was in Kissimmee, Florida. BGSU had traveled there not knowing what destiny had waiting for them. With the addition of talented rookie Greg Smolkovich, the team had the depth they needed to pursue the championship. Bowling Green went into day two of World Cup as the 31st seed. After winning their play-in game against Tennessee Tech, they found themselves matched up with the third seed, the University of Miami Hurricanes. During snitch–on-pitch, Miami caught, but was called off due to their seeker allegedly being beat. With Bowling Green having the game swing in their favor, Sam Roitblat, a future team USA seeker in his first season, caught the snitch. Sam would catch again the following game, a matchup with the Mid-Atlantic powerhouse University of Maryland, setting them up for an Elite 8 matchup against a team comprised of all-stars from the West region: The Lost Boys.
The Lost Boys had been playing great all season, and went into bracket play as the sixth seed. The game between BGSU and Lost Boys would be one of the longest documented quidditch matches in history. Lasting just short of 50 minutes, BGSU and Lost Boys fought back and forth until Sam Roitblat made a miraculous catch to end the game with a final score of 230*-210. BGSU had made it to the final four with Dan Daugherty and Sam Roitblat leading the way. Was it possible for them to win their next match? A true David vs. Goliath matchup was at hand as BGSU was set to face the University of Texas, a team still considered to have the best chasing depth of any collegiate team ever. Despite a hard-fought match, UT ultimately defeated an exhausted BGSU 140-50*. Dan Daugherty played himself to the point where he required a IV and an ice bath after the Texas game. Texas would go on to win the championship against the first seed UCLA team.
World Cup VI was a huge success for BGSU. They had national attention in the quidditch community, and were considered an up-and-coming program. Making the final four propelled BGSU’s quidditch program and created a foundation for the program to build upon.
Fall 2013 – Spring 2016
The next three years would be up and down for BGSU. BGSU would win their first regional championship against The University of Kansas in the fall of 2013, but would lose the next two regional finals in range to Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. With the success of their Cinderella final four run at World Cup VI, the 2013-2014 season saw a significant increase in new players. With so much potential talent, BGSU decided to create a second team called Falcon Warriors to act as the team’s junior varsity program. The 2013 Falcon Warriors was comprised of mostly freshman and a few varsity players from the year before. Having two teams in the program helped. Players who were not ready to be on BG Quidditch could grow and mature. This allowed for BG Quidditch to replace players with seasoned veterans from Falcon Warriors. Players like Sara McCullough, Alajuwan Brown, Max Portillo, and Stephen Kersey would all eventually move up to BGSU’s Varsity team. The Falcon Warriors would go on to earn a spot at World Cup 8 after beating Ohio University in a snitch range game at the 2014 Midwest Regional Championships.
Spring of 2014 would be an average year for BGSU’s Varsity program. They qualified for World Cup VII and placed well in the tournament, but on day two, a tough Baylor team would go on to knock them out of bracket play.
The following season was an unexpected rough patch for the BGSU program. Going into World Cup 8, BGSU was considered a subpar team. While having a team leader in Dan Daugherty leading the passing attack, their play against mid to lower level teams was satisfactory, but not at the level of previous seasons. Teams were able to stifle the offense. BGSU would eventually lose to the University of Maryland and Tufts University, and their 3-2 record knocked BGSU out of bracket contention.
The fall of 2015 sparked change in BGSU. Quidditch was evolving, and a new set of contributing players began to play a greater role with the team. With the formation of Major League Quidditch (MLQ) in May 2015 to act as a quidditch summer league, several BGSU players were able to compete with the local Cleveland Riff. This experience in MLQ allowed for BGSU players got to look at Quidditch strategy in a completely new way. Most importantly, BGSU players gained experience from playing with multiple players from rival Ohio State University. OSU had just completed its best season in program history, and their top players were at the helm of the Cleveland Riff team. With a recalibrated concept of quidditch strategy, BGSU would go on to win 20 games in the fall of 2015, losing only to an elite University of Michigan team and rival Ball State University.
BGSU rode the momentum from their successful fall season into US Quidditch Cup 9, hoping to reverse their ill fortunes of the previous year. With Dan Daugherty switching to beater and the emergence of breakout stars Josh Scott and Zach Conkle, BGSU would finish pool play 4-0 and earn a high seed in bracket play. After a close victory over New York University to open bracket play, BGSU defeated Texas State in arguably their best game of the year to earn a spot in the Elite 8, one game away from matching their legendary 2013 Cinderella run. Again, BGSU was matched with a tournament favorite in QC Boston. Despite the best efforts of Daugherty and beater partner Max McAdoo, QC Boston would ultimately pull away, winning 220*-90. QC Boston would go on to beat Rochester United in the US Quidditch Cup 9 Finals, and while BGSU finished below their initial goal, they now knew what it took to defeat the best team in the nation.
Fall 2016 – Present
BGSU lost over half of their elite 8 team the following year, and found themselves in a position where they had to double down on recruitment. Through the use of media and videos to advertise to potential recruits, they showed that quidditch was an actual sport. Replacing their veteran graduates with talented rookies, BGSU rebuilt their program over the fall into a force to be reckoned. After beating the then number-one ranked Rochester United and going undefeated in their fall season, BGSU defeated longtime rival Ball State to win the Great Lakes Regional title. Entering their spring season, they were also ranked top 5 in USQ and Eighth Man rankings simultaneously for the first time ever. BGSU started off the first half of the year strong, but have a tough road ahead of them leading up to US Quidditch Cup 10. They remain undaunted by the challenges ahead.