By Brandon Borges
Ball State University Quidditch cemented itself in quidditch history by earning its 50th in-range victory with a quality win over Indiana University at Great Lakes Regionals 2018. A testament to the intangible clutchness, seeker skill, and beating-on-snitch prowess of the team, BSU’s program has been the genesis of many of the top players in quidditch yesteryear and today.
“Even before I started playing I know Tyler Macy and Mac [Randolph] gave BSU a great name,” says Mary Owen, a veteran Ball State player. “And then they helped train Jason Bowling, who was phenomenal for us.”
Tyler Macy and Jason Bowling, two former Team USA players, are just some of the amazing quidditch alumni that found their starts at Ball State. “After that we had Nathan Ellert, who I feel proved himself over and over, both at regionals and nationals last year,” said Owen. Ellert, who was collegiate MVP of the Great Lakes region last year now plays for the Midwest juggernaut Boom Train. He was an incredibly key player in Ball State’s regional championship run last year. “We would not have gone 9-0 without his quick catches I’d say.”
The newest seeker the team has acquired, Liam Zach, is no slouch himself, and grabbed the snitch to close out Ball State’s historic game. “[Zach] seems to be developing the hot hand,” states Owen. “Overall I’d say that having a long line of talented seeker has helped us get the large amount of wins we’ve had in-range.”
Ball State sustained some heavy losses in personnel from last year. Erin Moreno, Ellert, Luke Lipps, Hayley Bashore, Andrew Caratini, Matthew Brown, and Sam McNew have all left the squad since the regional championship last year. And still, BSU qualified for nationals at this year’s regionals, an incredibly impressive feat. Owen gives credit to the core of players Ball State maintained for this year, and the newest crop of rookies led by Zach, including dangerous speedster Dayne Patton. “Joe [McIntire] is fairly new and proven himself to be a talented beater with lots of aggression.”
McIntire, along with the smart and ferocious chaser Owen, speed demon and offensive weapon Max Jolly, and the lengthy and athletic Nick Kauffman all played for MLQ North’s Indianapolis Intensity for the 2018 season. They maintained chemistry transitioning into the USQ season that not many players can muster, let alone players with the individual talent the four possess.
Other returning players like big man Sean Mullen, ball-hound Cassidy Stigall, and defensive stud Tyler Taylor have all upped their games in a big way as well. “[They] may have not been known as breakout players in previous years, but with some of our older players leaving, they’ve really stepped up to help our new players and grow into their position,” said Owen. With an assist to the mind of alumni Matt Brown, the team got quality wins over Indiana, Bowling Green, and Michigan State to advance to nationals.
Consistency is the name of the game for Ball State. Their program had some hiccups this year, only attending Clash at the Grand before getting to nationals, but their success at nationals is even more impressive given this perspective. “I think another great thing about us being fortunate to have talented rookies is that it can be unexpected talent,” said Owen. “Lots of teams will see us and think that we aren’t much because we lost players like Matt Brown, but we have Liam and Joe who are working up to that level.”
Ball State will certainly maintain the respect they have garnered through years of their excellence as their young players get more playing time and continue to shine within the region.