Photo by: Kelly Lyden

Written By: Luke Zak, Cody Narveson, Tim Ohlert, Hallie Schley, Zach Miller, Sarah Kollman, Cole Wensman

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.

Meet Minnesota
Written By: Cole Wensman

Cole joined Minnesota Quidditch as a freshman and quickly distinguished himself as a talented chaser and team leader. Cole currently serves as chaser captain and intramural coordinator.

In 2010, a group of friends at the University of Minnesota decided to take a risk by founding a new student organization dedicated to playing a brand new sport. Seven years later, Minnesota Quidditch (MNQ) has established itself as one of the top teams in the Midwest. Minnesota Quidditch’s on pitch success includes a Midwest Regional Championship win, a remarkable run to the Final Four at World Cup V, and berths to the national championship in every year of its existence.

In addition to building a consistently competitive quidditch team, MNQ has created a highly successful intramural quidditch league at the University of Minnesota. While less competitive than the traveling team, the spirits of inclusiveness, camaraderie, and competitiveness are easily seen by the more than 150 intramural players participating in our program. The intramural league gives everyone the opportunity to partake in an sport that was previously only playable in the imagination. In order to fund both the competitive team and the intramural league, MNQ organizes a large Yule Ball once a year. Filling to capacity for the past two years, the dance features a DJ, student group performances, a photo booth, a Diagon Alley vendor experience and catered food including butterbeer and chocolate wands.

Each of these aspects of MNQ define what the organization is and how it brings the quidditch community in the Twin Cities together like an extended family. Both on and off the field, MNQ has successfully established itself as one of the premier quidditch organizations in the country.

Photo by: Kelly Lyden

Photo by: Kelly Lyden

2010-2011
Written by: Luke Zak

Luke was a founder and original member of Minnesota Quidditch. Luke currently plays for the Minneapolis community team TC Frost, which he helped found.

After mulling things over throughout the summer of 2010, a group of friends decided to make a go of this quidditch thing at the University of Minnesota. There were whispers of the sport being played at colleges around the state, but all the leads turned up dry.The founders knew it was up to them to bring organized quidditch to the state of Minnesota. As such, Minnesota Quidditch was formed that August with a few goals in mind.

Because of its relative isolation, the first priority for the program was creating an intramural league so that anybody who wanted to play quidditch would have access to a regular outlet. The officers set out to register with the university administration, construct the hoops, acquire a ridiculous amount of balls and brooms, and plaster campus with fliers. Though their hopes were high, little could have prepared them for the turn out at the interest meetings, which were each attended by hundreds of students eager to get on the pitch.

One thing led to another, and soon enough, Minnesota Quidditch had over one hundred people turning out for weekly matches. It was a full blown ten-game schedule every Sunday leading up to the Halloween Tournament, our fall championship event. Of the teams that participated, the intramural champion was to be chosen to represent MNQ at World Cup IV in New York. That fall, Goldy’s Army would win the intramural title, and maintain the privilege of representing our organization at our first national tournament.

Two weeks later, the small squad and team leadership found themselves in the back of a fifth-wheel camper, road tripping across the country toward Dewitt Clinton Park. After nearly a full day of non-stop driving and minimal sleep, the team was marching along a procession among 46 other teams, joyously chanting the Minnesota Rouser and preparing for the program’s first-ever intercollegiate match. With an empowering victory over Green Mountain College, Minnesota Quidditch appeared to be a contender in its pool. That feeling, however, proved to be short-lived, as the rest of the games on day one ended in snitch-catch losses. In what can only be described as a clerical error, Minnesota Quidditch was one of the 24 teams to make it to bracket play on day two. Bowing out in the play-in round to a veteran Boston University team, the team returned to Minnesota not with heavy hearts, but a newfound excitement and vigor for the future of the program.

In retrospect, the infrastructure established that season would lead to a still unrivaled intramural league, remarkable national tournament performances, and unparalleled fundraising capabilities for a sport so unknown to the general public.  This infrastructure contributed to Minnesota Quidditch’s recognition as the 2010 recipient of the University of Minnesota Rookie Registered Student Organization Tony Diggs Excellence Award. Through the first year’s successes and thorough framework, the leadership had put the team on course to accomplish the last goal: establishing a program that would outlast them all.

Photo by: Kelly Lyden

Photo by: Kelly Lyden

2011-2012
Written by: Cody Narveson

Cody was an original member of Minnesota Quidditch and played on the competitive team until 2015. Cody then co-founded the now defunct Minneapolis community team Minnesota Nice QC, and currently plays for TC Frost.

Looking to build upon their first year of existence, Minnesota Quidditch’s leadership sought out dedicated participants within the league and formed the club’s first board of officers, complete with nine members.

It was during this season that a committed group of athletes came together in what would become MNQ’s first traveling roster. This team travelled Fishers, Indiana for the first Midwest Regional Championship and to Marquette University for a three-game set – both trips saw Minnesota get outmatched in nearly every game. Knowing a big strategic shift was necessary, the Minnesota zone defense was conceived and refined in the week leading up to World Cup V. This setup allowed for the keeper and two chasers to guard a hoop apiece, and for the beaters to float comfortably in the keeper zone with little threat of losing bludger possession. Many names for this strategy have cropped up over the years including the hoop zone, Three Trees, and Baylor D. Using the newly-implemented zone, coupled with clutch seeker play, Minnesota Quidditch advanced to the Final Four, before finally falling to University of Florida. This still stands as the team’s best national tournament performance to date.

The following spring Minnesota Quidditch was invited to compete in the Champions Series tournament in Boston, Massachusetts. Thanks to brilliant organization following the invitation announcement, MNQ ended up being one of the few teams in attendance to sport a full local squad, as many teams instead opted for regional all-star rosters. This chemistry favored Minnesota until the semifinals of bracket play, when Villanova ended MNQ’s tournament run.

Minnesota’s 2011-2012 season was concluded with the selection of keeper Jared Sipe to represent Team USA at the first ever Global Games. Beater Ashley Novitsky was also chosen for the tournament as a reserve. More than anything, this was an indication to Minnesota personnel that their success and accomplishments as a team had not gone unnoticed, and that they would be a team to watch going into the new season.

Photo by: Cally O’Neill

Photo by: Cally O’Neill

2012-2013
Written by: Tim Ohlert

Tim played for Minnesota Quidditch for four years, serving as beater captain for three of those years. As a starting beater and captain, Tim helped lead the team to its 2015 Midwest Regional Championship.

Minnesota Quidditch was coming off of our enormous success at World Cup V and the program was growing rapidly. The intramural league had grown exponentially from the last year and we held the first true tryouts for the traveling team.

Our 2012-2013 season yielded inconsistent results. We achieved the program’s first ever victory over our rival, Marquette, and placed second at the Spring Breakout tournament in Missouri. But the successes of the season were tempered by an unremarkable Midwest Regional Championship tournament where we bowed out early in bracket play despite high expectations. Furthermore, our performance at World Cup VI ultimately resulted with an injury-depleted roster unable to make it past the first opening day of the tournament, bowing out of pool play with a 1-3 record.

Through it all though, you could tell that we were an organization on the rise. A large group of freshmen had reinvigorated the structure of the program and the returning players from the World Cup V Final Four run were among the most knowledgeable in the game at the time, including former Team USA Quidditch player, Jared Sipe. We were a close-knit, supportive group of friends that happened to also be pretty good at quidditch.

The vast majority of this team would be back the following season, strengthened by new rookies and returning talent. Everyone was ready to work harder and invest more into the game in order to avoid the shortfalls of the past season and take advantage of the rapidly growing program.

2013-2014
Written by: Cody Narveson

A strong class of rookies made the 2012-2013 season a successful rebuilding year for Minnesota Quidditch. Together, this group went into the 2013-2014 season with the firm intent to make visible strides forward.

This year, MNQ made the unorthodox decision to not pursue any official games prior to the Midwest Regional Championships, instead focusing on inter-team scrimmages and pick-up play against the first-year community team TC Frost. Minnesota Quidditch came out of regionals with a 3-1 pool play record, a bracket play overtime loss to a reinvented Marquette team, and a bid to World Cup VII.

MNQ was set to host its very first tournament in February, but bad weather and unsafe driving conditions led to many teams dropping out the day before. What followed was a three-team round robin consisting of Minnesota Quidditch, TC Frost, and a mercenary team comprised of scattered Midwest players, including Minnesota native and Ball State chaser and future Team USA beater Tyler Walker. A few weeks later, MNQ travelled to Indiana to participate in the B1G/MAC Tournament, which was an event limited to schools from the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences. The weekend-long blizzard and subsequently snowy conditions greatly aided Minnesota’s hoop zone defense throughout the event, and MNQ came away with its first ever tournament title.

Minnesota Quidditch concluded its season by traveling to World Cup VII. MNQ, with a 3-1 record in pool play, had to settle for the third seed in their pool due to a low quaffle point differential through tough matchups. This was good for a bracket play-in round appearance, which ended with a snitch-range loss to Austin Quidditch.

MNQ was able to nab a World Cup bid despite an overall underwhelming regionals performance. This spoke to the ability of the team’s leadership to develop its returning player core, and it was an indication of Minnesota Quidditch’s improving ability to recruit legitimate athletes raw with talent. A tournament championship is a worthy accomplishment for any team, even if it was earned on pitches comprised largely of snow and ice. If anything else, it fueled a World Cup bracket play appearance that year, which was a tangible step forward from the season before.

Photo by: Cally O’Neill

Photo by: Cally O’Neill

2014-2015
Written by: Hallie Schley

Hallie joined Minnesota Quidditch her freshman year and quickly made her mark as a talented beater. In her time with Minnesota Quidditch, Hallie served as secretary, president, and beater captain.

After losing a majority of the previous senior class, several fresh faces were added to the team for the this season. Minnesota had a good showing at Kansas Cup in the fall, going 6-2 despite losing three of their five female players to injury in the first two games. Our team played nearly the entire day in the loser’s bracket after losing early in the day to Oklahoma State. We were successful in a rematch against Oklahoma State later, and with another key win against the University of Arkansas, MNQ made a run to the finals before bowing out to the University of Kansas. Taking 2nd place in Kansas was a good start to the season heading into Midwest Regional Championship.

At Midwest Regional Championship, Minnesota had a couple tough pool play games against Michigan State and Marquette but ended the first day with a 3-0 record. A win against Grand Valley State University the next day gave us a bid to World Cup 8, and shortly after the team was demolished by a veteran Bowling Green State University team in the quarterfinals.

In the spring the team went 1-1 at Spring Breakout at the University of Missouri before the tournament was cancelled due to snow and took 1st place at the Purdue tournament. At World Cup 8, MNQ went 3-2 in pool play and qualified for bracket play on the strength of strong performances against top-tier teams Unfortunately, the team matched up against the tournament favorites, Lone Star Quidditch Club, and despite a hard-fought game, could not overcome the eventual World Cup runners up.

2015-2016
Written by: Hallie Schley

We started off the 2015-2016 season with a bit of uncertainty. We had lost quite a few experienced players from the previous year to graduation, with additional players ultimately choosing to play for community teams. With the newly revamped Midwest region only getting four bids to nationals, a lot of work had to be done to build a team that could compete with the rest of the region. A great group of talented freshman joined the team that year and developed quickly over the course of the fall. The season started off strongly with an excellent performance at the Marquette Fall Classic, finishing in second place. The Midwest Regional Championship that year was held in challenging weather conditions, with a blizzard that started in the region Friday and carried on through Saturday morning. Despite the conditions, we played well enough and utilized clutch performances against Minnesota Nice and Mizzou Quidditch to get us to the championship game. Beating Illinois State to win the Midwest Regional Championship was definitely the highlight of our season.

In the following spring, we lost the core of our quaffle game as David Pray, Cole Wensman and Paul Dvoracek were sidelined due to injuries, study abroad, and an internship, respectively. This depleted our roster leading up to nationals, and lead to a poor showing in the spring semester. After a disappointing showing at Mizzou’s Spring Breakout, the team desperately needed direction. In the lead up to nationals, this was partially provided by rookie Peter Nieman, and veteran Zach Miller stepping into more prominent leadership roles. At US Quidditch Cup 9, MNQ ended the first day with a disappointing 1-3 record and did not make bracket play. Even though the team failed to live up to the high standards we had set for ourselves, the framework for success was there. Moving forward, the young leadership and willingness to adapt under pressure would prove to be extremely useful to the young team.

2016-Present Day
Written by: Zach Miller

Zach joined Minnesota Quidditch his junior year of college. Prior to playing for Minnesota he played as a chaser for two year as a member of TC Frost. When Miller joined Minnesota, his knowledge of the game proved useful as he was switched to playing beater. Miller also served as the first Intramural Coordinator for Minnesota Quidditch.

In 2016, many returning players thought this year was going to be a rebuilding year. With veteran beaters Tim Ohlert, Hallie Schley, and Carly Eichten leaving the team as well as the frontline chaser/keeper squad of David Pray, Ben Spokely, and Andrew Wagganer, the team was looking weak.

As try-outs neared, MNQ was in dire need of a freshman class that could learn quickly and mesh well with the foundation that was last year’s freshman. The team was very fortunate to take on a handful of capable playmakers which would help determine what style of play MNQ would create for the season. MNQ’s new-look squad would easily be overlooked from an athletic perspective. When you scratch the surface of the team, though, you will find that what we lack in physicality we make up for with speed and cunning playmaking abilities.

After a lackluster second half of the 2015-2016 season, MNQ was in need of an overhaul. The leadership on the team focused on overhauling our defense, increasing communication on pitch, and developing similar aggressive beating strategies used by top-tier teams throughout the country. Chaser Paul Dvoracek brought a lot of expertise in tackling from his season playing with the Lost Boys Quidditch Club, a top-tier team on the West Coast. By addressing these issues head on and focusing on improving with the modern game, Minnesota Quidditch heavily improved as a competitive quidditch team.

MNQ ended the fall with a 11-4 record with appearances at The Marquette Fall Classic, Kansas Cup, and the Midwest Regional Tournament. Many of these wins were not decisive; they often came down to snitch grabs or overtime victories. This success led to a 3rd place ranking in the Midwest, and qualified them for US Quidditch Cup 10. As we move forward, MNQ hopes to open some eyes at US Quidditch Cup 10 with a play style that can hopefully keep up with some of the best teams in the country.

A Thriving Program
Written by: Sarah Kollman

Sarah started playing quidditch her freshman year and is currently a beater on the travel team. She is also serving as secretary for the organization.

Since its beginnings in 2010, Minnesota Quidditch has grown into a thriving program. Our presence has grown both at the University of Minnesota and in the surrounding community. The intramural league consistently has between 100 and 200 players, and is continually introducing quidditch to new people. MNQ’s annual Yule Ball fundraiser has become an extremely successful public event, drawing nearly 800 attendees each of the past two years. Furthermore, the team constantly works to advance public knowledge of the club and the sport in general through activities such helping with youth programs in the summer and holding an informational booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

The travel team continues to act as the focal point of the organization, holding tryouts each fall and traveling to tournaments throughout the country in fall and spring. Between the many practices and long car rides, team members form a special sort of camaraderie, becoming an ever-changing family as seniors graduate and new players are added each year. Throughout its existence, Minnesota Quidditch has been a success due its presence on the pitch as well as in the university community and general public. Looking forward, we hope to continue the growth of our intramural league and community events, as well as maintain a competitive travel team. By recruiting new members and becoming more well-known each year, we work to ensure that Minnesota Quidditch will be a flourishing organization in the years to come.