By Brandon Borges
It is sometimes difficult for a player to make an immediate positive impact for their team on-pitch in a region as competitive as the Great Lakes. Quidditch is a complex sport, a players are first introduced to the sport and the positions within the sport at the college level more often than not. This introduces a steeper learning curve foreign to most other sports like soccer or basketball, where athletes first pick it up at a young age.
It is no shame at all to not immediately understand the more complex concepts and strategies that are involved in winning collegiate quidditch. Heck, it took me a year to fully understand how to work with beaters as a keeper. All of this puts into perspective how impressive many of the rookies have been so far. From teams rebuilding their rosters to teams competing for the national championships, the Great Lakes region has seen a good deal of new players finding their roles on their team in a matter of months, and contributing at a high level. This series of articles will look to bring attention to some of these impressive rookies.
Dustin Hadley (Miami University)
Dustin Hadley has already cemented a spot on the roster of the Great Lakes Regional Champions and quickly established himself as a dangerous point defender and an athletic finisher at the hoops. At his first official collegiate tournament Clash of the Grand, Hadley was instrumental in earning MU its perfect record at Grand Valley, gelling in quickly with a squad with incredibly high aspirations for its team. Going against him personally, I can tell you that he is as good a point defender as anyone I have gone against in this region, and is a deadly mix of agile and aware when he is on the drive. Having just three official tournaments under his belt, Hadley provides MU with a quality chaser talent that fits right in with the nigh-unstoppable offense they have been able to trot out this far into the season.
Tess Scheidel (Grand Valley State University)
The drastic improvement of the Grand Valley Grindylows this season could not have come without solid performances from incoming rookies, and Tess Scheidel has proven herself to be a key piece of this GVSU team. Scheidel’s athleticism and mobility was immediately apparent early this season, but as the season has progressed it is obvious that Grand Valley has more than just an athlete with this chaser. Scheidel has a plethora of experience in a variety of sports like soccer and basketball and has synthesized her knowledge of team sport movement to become one of the best finishers on Grand Valley. All of this accompanies an all-around game that quickly inserted her into a star-studded Grand Valley rotation.
Liam Zach (Ball State University)
Continuing the trend of amazing seeking talent that Ball State has historically been known for, Liam Zach was the driving force behind Ball State’s 8-2 snitch catch record at the Great Lakes Regional Championships, three of those games being in-range wins against Michigan State, Indiana, and The Ohio State University. With talent at beater to boot, Zach’s real strengths come at the seeking position, remarkably fast and sneakily strong. An extensive wrestling background being the basis for his seeking prowess, Zach has made the loss of Great Lakes MVP seeker Nathan Ellert easier to swallow for Ball State moving forward. Any team who faces Ball State moving forward should never rest easy on this team, as Zach’s presence means an in-range game more often than not favors the Cardinals.
Justin McCullough (Central Michigan University)
Justin McCullough has taken to the game like a fish to water. Fast, strong, and not afraid to use the tools he has at his disposal, McCullough is a valuable chaser/keeper/seeker on a very good Central Michigan team. McCullough made his tournament debut at CMU’s Mid-Michigan Melee and proved that he warranted that spot on the Centaur roster through his athletic play and strong finishes at the hoops and assisted CMU in its tournament victory. McCullough’s athleticism also helped him become a hard snitch to catch as well, and as the Centaurs work to reclaim their spot at the top of the Great Lakes region, his further involvement with the quidditch community is a positive sign.
Peter Greenwood (College of Wooster)
Peter Greenwood’s rookie campaign has been a major bright spot for the College of Wooster quidditch club. Greenwood has shown his value at any position he is put into for the Scottish Nationals, but his play at beater and seeker are where he is at home. The name of the game for Greenwood is patience and perception. If you give Greenwood an inch, he will take a mile, and in two positions with as many variables as beater and seeker, that patience goes a long way. Greenwood is no slouch in arm strength and speed, but this National has played more like a seasoned and wily veteran three months into his career, and that type of mind on pitch is what more than anything could lead to future success for the Wooster Scottish Nationals.