By Ryan Smythe
The Second Annual Gauntlet Throwdown wasn’t official, but it showed off a lot of what the West has to offer. Both the Silicon Valley Vipers and the Long Beach Funky Quaffles gave the Lost Boys and the Gambits a scare, and UCLA looks noticeably different but has a lot of potential. ASU showed up with a deceptively small roster reportedly due to players not wanting to travel, USC fielded an actual team, and whatever the Gambits have been teaching the Anteaters is working.
Saying more than that feels out of line – if Steve DiCarlo won’t release the scores based on an agreement with the teams, then I’d feel like a dick ignoring that and revealing them here, seeing as I’m a player on one of those teams he’s honoring an agreement with. However, Ethan Sturm was right that the Gambits beat the Lost Boys in the finals, in overtime, on a snitch catch by someone not named Margo Aleman.
That’s where I have a bone to pick with the Eighth Man rankings putting the Gambits as the #2 seed. Yes, Aleman is a championship-winning seeker, but is he really worth a #5 seed jump over Edgar Pavlovsky, the man who beat the Lost Boys at Next Best West last November by pulling the snitch and screaming that he caught it to his sideline, and then doing the exact same thing again on Saturday? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.
Outside of gameplay, the Gauntlet Throwdown was a surprising success. Not surprising because it worked, surprising because volunteers were ready and willing to help until well after the sun set. If volunteers like that exist in SoCal, then we may have a chance to find a replacement Regional Coordinator now that Elizabeth Barcelos has stepped down from her position.
But the thing is–we shouldn’t need to find a replacement. We shouldn’t have ended up in the position where one of the handful of people willing to dedicate large portions of their life running the sport we all work so hard to love was forced out due to how the community treated her.
“[The sport’s tendency toward shrugging off community-wide responsibility] will keep happening until there are consequences,” Barcelos said in her retirement announcement. “I’m not really your or anyone else’s mom. Maybe that approach was wrong. Maybe I’m too old for this and quidditch needs to grow up. Maybe my leaving will shake things up and change things for the better, but I doubt it. Staying certainly won’t, though.”
Barcelos badgered the entire region to sign up in time to get as many Nationals bids as possible. Everyone knows that trying to coordinate any number of quidditch players is a monumental feat, and she managed to galvanize a region into getting off its collective ass at the last minute and register its teams. Some might try to claim that they didn’t need her help, and to you I say good job; you did the bare minimum required of you. Others might try to claim that Barcelos’ photoshop was the catalyst the West needed to band together and make one last push as the clock ticked down, and to you I say you are correct.
Does that mean someone will step up and take over planning the Sunset Invitational? Seeing as there was just a single non-West team showing interest, is there even enough value in running a high-level tournament the month before West Regionals if the only teams who will show up will play again a month later? Yes, it would be great for SoCal teams who can sleep in their own beds the night before, but Utah and NorCal are shit out of luck. Traveling sucks, and we all need to get ready to travel to Florida. Barcelos said it best in her retirement announcement: “Traveling sucks for us on the west coast but there’s not much of a choice, so why would other teams volunteer for that hardship?”
Eventually, once enough time has passed, it will really sink in how much we’re going to miss Barcelos. For now, it hasn’t been long enough for anyone to notice the effects.
In the meantime, I don’t want to see some of the best people who work hard to make sure we can keep playing this dumb sport leave because people treat them like shit. These people aren’t paid in cash, so it’s the least we can do to pay them with appreciation. Hate their decisions, love their decisions, argue with them until your lose your voice–the fact is they’re the ones making decisions to at least try to make a difference for the rest of us. At the very least, say thank you every now and then.
Editor’s note: I feel as though the topic of community’s awareness of and appreciation for its volunteers has become something of a recurrent theme here at FBI. This is borne largely from that our staff consists of active members of the community, as well as our staff’s close relationships with other, often more active volunteers.
What we here at FBI think is important for readers to remember—even readers who don’t/never have/aren’t interested in volunteering—is that quidditch as it exists right now is reliant on volunteerism. Our competitive tournament structure, our media coverage—even if you’ve never personally volunteered for USQ, IQA, T8M, QP, etc., etc.,I bet that if you’re reading this, you know someone who has. Specifically, ensuring we each endeavor to treat NGB volunteers well is not just important, it’s vital to the continued existence of these organizations, which are necessary to the continued existence of the sport itself.
That aside, I also encourage you to consider volunteering in some capacity. It’s hard. It sucks. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you you’ll love it, because I never particularly did. But it’s something like a community duty, and it sure would be nice to take some of the pressure off the more recognizable figures in our community who are starting to become career volunteers. I urge you to find a way to contribute so that the burden is less on a specific few.