Photo by: Florida State University
Written by: Ryan Davis
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.
When USQ announced the restrictions in eligibility for between college and community teams in July of 2016, stating that players not enrolled in a university could not play for said university and would therefore have to form their own teams, the University of South Carolina’s quidditch team was at an impasse. Several community members had inquired into joining USC’s quidditch team for the 2016-2017 academic year, and with the new requirements were now stuck looking for a community team. In August 2016, a group of USC players were enjoying Applebee’s half-priced appetizers after helping fellow South Carolina team The Southern Storm with its tryouts, and decided it was time to create their own team. Thus, Carolina Heat was born as a new community team centered in the Carolinas, but it drew in players ranging from New York to Miami. After contacting the originally interested players, captain Joe Goldberg began recruiting other members from the South Carolina community.
The Carolina Heat developed as an organization for USC graduates looking to remain competitive with their newfound inability to play with their former collegiate team. Goldberg was very influential in recruiting experienced community members that have shown great chemistry with the other members of the team. As the Heat became more well-known, the roster grew to contain many well-known names in the quidditch community such as Jody Louis, Steven Schwark and Matt Corder. Recently, University of Miami’s Tyler Odems and former University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill utility player Chris Champitto have joined the Heat’s roster. With the mixture of experienced community members and players from Gamecock Quidditch, the team needed to create a unique playing style that would combine its skill sets.
As the year progressed, the Heat grew as a team and found a playing style unique to them that focuses on the strengths of their players. Similar to other South teams, they have the aggressiveness and power from players who love to drive and dunk. The team has also begun to incorporate a Mid-Atlantic style zone defense, where players guard a specific portion of the field rather than a specific player, requiring greater cohesiveness between all players on pitch. Although the Heat are still developing their play style, the South has been taken aback due to the new defensive strategy that has allowed Heat to surprise opponents. Even though Heat performed well at South Regional Championship, finishing second to regional champions Florida’s Finest, the team is still developing and improving its strategies for US Quidditch Cup 10 in April. One of the many reasons the Carolina Heat has done so well this season is due to the depth and strengths of its players.
Heat has an eclectic corps of beaters gained from USC’s old team, whose beating had always been a primary strength. Goldberg was the backbone of Gamecock Quidditch’s beating in the past, and is now paired with Hanna Reese, a talented female beater and the team’s beater coach. With one of the two remaining on pitch at all times, the Heat have been able to keep its defense consistent behind an unusually deep chaser line. The team also utilizes a double male beater lineup quite frequently, allowing reserves Adam Orfinger, Johnny Ingalls and Trevor Harding to play key roles in the Heat’s success. All three are ex-baseball players and they can be depended upon to consistently make long beats and catch anything thrown their way.
Historically, Gamecock Quidditch quaffle players had struggled with offensive production and making defensive stops without beaters. However, due to the coaching of ex-football player Eli Greenawalt, things began to change. The Gamecock corps of Carolina Heat has become the offensive powerhouse of the team. For example, at the 2016 South Regional Championship, the Gamecocks put up a meager 20 points vs Florida’s Finest. This season, with a mostly freshman chaser line, the Heat were able to put up 110 points versus the same Florida’s Finest team at the Canes Classic in September 2016 after just a month of practice and training.
One of the Heat’s strongest chasers, offensively and defensively, is former University of South Florida player Jody Louis. Averaging about 30 points a game, Louis is a force to be reckoned with on-pitch and was named one of the most influential players in the region following the 2017 South Regional Championship. His ability to convert drive after drive and force turnovers makes Jody a key player to the Heat’s strength. Partnered with Louis is sophomore Jared Woodard, who burst onto the scene early in the year using pristine passing developed through many years as an ultimate Frisbee player. Finally, Heat brings Greenawalt and Jacob Heuker to the table, a pair of 6’5” behemoths that are almost impossible to bring down on offensive. The Heat’s offensive and defensive stalwarts allow their deep seeking line, featuring Ryan Davis, Matt Corder, and five-year veteran Chris Champitto, to win out close games.
Heat’s non-male potential does not stop at Davis. The Heat boast many powerful non-male players, most notably Reese, Anna Ripley and Sammi Paragano. Reese is the core of the non-male beater line when Heat needs to stack up the chaser line. Whether she’s playing off-ball or holding down the defense, Reese is an important link in the beater line. Where Ingalls or Goldberg can be inconsistent or over-aggressive, Reese is extremely consistent and rarely lets her team down on defense. On the chaser line, Carolina has a veteran in Ripley and a young standout in Paragano. Knowing exactly where to position on offense and playing a brutal man-to-man defense, Ripley is sure to make her presence known on the field. Paragano, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Coming in at a 5-foot-2 her field presence is almost invisible, allowing her to find space in the defense. Place her on the field with power drivers such as Schwark, Louis, Davis, Greenawalt or and Heuker, and her presence drops to nothing, leaving her open to roam around the hoops and connect point after point.
While Carolina Heat is a new community team, it has in its founding year won two large tournaments at Tar Heel Brawl and Flagler Cup. The Heat have also brought home the silver medal from the South Regional Championship after a hard fought game against Florida’s Finest. We have emphasized travel more than most teams in our region, with our experience at the Canes Classic in Florida and the Oktoberfest Invitational in New York paying huge dividends to our improvement as a team. This out-of-region experience certainly gives Carolina Heat an edge going into US Quidditch Cup 10. Having regularly gone against South’s aggressive play and being prepared for the Northeast’s more methodical style after Oktoberfest, Carolina is ready to face off against any team they come against at US Quidditch Cup
As with any community team, Carolina Heat’s future is up in the air, highly dependent on if its current players return next season. If the Heat can maintain the star players on their roster along with continuing to deepen their lines, their future could be bright. As for US Quidditch Cup 10, Carolina Heat’s playing style will surprise teams from other regions with their mix of Southern aggression and Mid-Atlantic strategy. This team has the potential to make a name for the South Region as it takes on the rest of the nation in Kissimmee.