By Brandon Borges
Discussion around regionals is often focused towards US Quidditch Cup at the end of the season. What teams earned bids, who looks to be contenders for the championship, so on and so forth. However, one of the biggest stories has nothing to do with a team that earned a bit or ever came incredibly close to one, but rather a team that has shown dramatic improvement and yet flashes potential to be even better in the near future.
Indiana University Quidditch Club is one of those teams staring at and dreaming of that brighter future. Back in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Golden State Warriors were not the juggernaut, but their series against the Los Angeles Clippers foreshadowed their impending rise to the top – IU hopes that the 2018 Great Lakes Regional Championship was their version of that run.
“It means we are doing something right,” says Coach Traeger Duratti, pleased with the positive talk that has followed IU’s performance. “The talk gives our young players, and even those that have been with the team but haven’t tasted much success, validation that their hard work is paying off.” Indeed, Indiana, a team that did not receive too much fanfare or recognition before the Great Lakes Regional Championship, has caught the attention of all Great Lakes aficionados.
This type of change does not come without a dramatic change in culture, and Duratti explained exactly how this change came about. “This year we have new leadership in all positions except for our president, Jose Martinez, and one of our coaches, Tristan Kelsey.” Players on IUQC really seemed to have embraced this change in leadership as the start to something great, and Duratti spoke on how important it is to have not only leadership on a team that are able to effectively teach a team how to play and carry themselves but players who are willing to accept everything that comes with those lessons. “Their willingness to buy into our program is what has lead to the ‘monumental’ difference in this and last year’s team,” he said.
Duratti himself exemplifies this change in leadership and how effective coaching can impact players. “This year, I am one of the coaches of our club and am taking the knowledge I learned from playing on QC Boston and the Boston Night Riders with some of the best players to ever play the game, namely Harry Greenhouse, Jayke Archibald, Max Havlin, and so many more, to the IUQC and have tried to create a culture of winning.”
Duratti has been part of those great Boston teams through their most successful years, having won one championship with QC Boston and two with the Night Riders. With those experiences and rings come years of practice with teams that have gotten it done, knowledge of how quidditch is played on an elite level, and respect for what he was able to accomplish. But the lessons Duratti is able to teach his players does not translate to immediate success. It requires hard work and dedication from other IU players like experienced beater Kelsey, from the lightning-fast and surprisingly hard-hitting Jacob Nixon, from aggressive defender Josh Bogner, from every player within the IUQC program. “We know it isn’t going to happen overnight, but we are willing to put in the work it takes to be the best so one day soon we can reach that plateau,” said Duratti.
He looks forward to the heightened level of competition that comes with newfound notoriety. “We’re going to get everyone’s best shot every time we play. No one will take us lightly from here on out so we need to prepare for that and continue to improve so we can fulfill our potential.” At the very least, this will work to benefit this growing team moving forward. Stiffer competition helps players understand and become better equipped to handle the pace, physicality, and skill of great teams, and for a team with as much brimming potential as Indiana University, the stiffer competition may find itself challenged.