We swooped in among the bright lights of New York City late at night and piled into hotel rooms to be ready for our early arrival at Randall's Island. We met Texas Christian University (TCU) and Virginia Tech over breakfast and immediately started a camaraderie (in our defense, they are very sexy teams) and broke out the obnoxious patriotism. We registered and swept into the Athletes' Village, where all the Canadian teams clumped together near the top at "The North Pole." After I left the team alone to figure out the tent ("Team-Building Exercise," anyone?), we found our spot for the opening ceremonies in front of Penn State, who we befriended over cheers - yay for alphabet bonding!
(Quidditch with the New York City skyline in the background)
Our first game wasn't until 11:50, so we swarmed all over to watch our competitors and comrades play, and I was greeted by Monsieur Commissioner with a courtly bow. (It's our hats. They add an extra dash class to everything.) Our first game was against Florida, the eventual runners-up of the tournament. We lost, although our (thoroughly excellent) Seeker had some BEAUTIFUL deflection tactics against Florida's Seeker and managed to delay the Snitch Snatch while we endeavoured to catch up. The Snitch was hilarious, he was bullfighting the Seekers with a pink fleece for most of the time. We came back for our game against the Delaware Valley Dragons (who had FABULOUS hair) and were winning handily until the Snitch Snatch, which still put us ahead 70-60. Our last game of the day was against ASU, for which we had prepared with "Operation Sexy Cactus" (CLASSIFIED). I could tell you what it entailed, but then Dumbledore would have to kill me with his beard. It was a rough, tough game - I didn't see the end of it because I had to take one of our players to the hospital, but there was some fast Quidditch happening ;)
So yeah, I got to ride in an ambulance with sirens on in NYC - which I shouldn't find cool or exciting at all, but which, after a beat, Steven and I whispered that we both kind of did. He was fine, just had to get patched up after taking a broom to the eye - I, as Team Mom and Chief Worrier, got a bit freaked out when we saw him go down with a hand on his eye and I was sent for the medic. I sprinted up the park only to find no-one in the EMT tent, and so snagged the commentators from Pitch 1 to make an announcement to send a medic to Pitch 8 - I must have looked a little wild 'round the eyes, since they jumped right to it. Clearly a "Not my player, you bitch!" moment for Mama Weasley. Steven and Kera had been playing with two ADORABLE children for about an hour beforehand (BE STILL MY OVARIES), and the look on the kid's face as they were patching Steven up on the sidelines was to die for.
OLIVER: ...Gods can fall?
(Oliver's mom found us on facebook afterwards and posted a picture, thanking us for being fun to play with, and said "Oliver hopes Steven's doing okay!" SO ADORABLE, YOU GUYS. While Steven was trying to assess the damage to his eye and get patched up, he was also trying to smile and wave to Oliver so the kid wouldn't worry. Eeeeep.)
(Kidditch. The cutest effing thing on the face of the planet.)
The commentators loved Oliver as well. Quidditch commentators are all improv comedians, so the results can be hilarious.
COMMENTATOR 1: The people in front of me have just asked if they're impeding my view. This leads me to believe that they think I'm going to be discussing what's actually going on in the game.
COMMENTATOR 2: Oliver, what are your feelings on the debt crisis?
OLIVER: ...I like chicken.
COMMENTATOR 1: Oliver, did you just call President Obama a chicken? Mr President, this four-year old says you need to confront Republicans and resolve the debt crisis! Oh wait, was that a foul? Foul for Arizona!
REFEREE: No, you're wrong, it wasn't.
COMMENTATOR 1: Apparently I've made the wrong call, but I don't care what you say, you're not my real dad!
(Surprisingly, this was not the moment that required a hospital visit.)
The hospital was uneventful - Steven's red face paint freaked the nurses out on several occasions (well, he *was* bleeding from the head, but not quite that much), and as a bystander able to indulge in a little shadenfreude now that the damage was patched, it was hilarious to try and watch someone in cleats walk on shiny hospital floors. There were a few other Quidditch players ("Can we go to Mt Sinai instead? I have a friend there with a busted ankle," said Steven to the paramedic) there, including the guy who wrote the rule book in the waiting room. Steven and I were talking to him about the referees, and only thought to ask his name at the end. "Oh," I replied, startled. "I recognize your name from the emails!" ~Suave, self. ~Suave.
After guzzling water from the waiting room washroom (Randall's Island doesn't have a water source, and the only food tent had an hour-long line. Holy dangerous-at-a-sporting-event, Batman), we trekked the many blocks up to Times Square, as it was Steven's first time in NYC. We swung by the UN building, and managed, out of HOW many millions of people, to run into the rest of our team by accident. It was a crisp, clear, beautiful night marked with Christmas fairly lights wound around trees and unmarred by the small injury. (Adam had a similar hospital trip at the Canadian Cup for the same injury in the exact same spot. Some people get friendship bracelets - uOttawa Quidditch gets friendship scars.)
We were back to the field at an unholily early hour the next day, so we grabbed Carleton and TCU and started a scrimmage - Team Maple Frogs (which is what you get when you mix Canada with TCU's 'Horned Frogs') vs Team Better Than You - that began as a legitimate game of Quidditch, but then got 3 extra bludgers and another quaffle thrown in, and then all rules flew out the window. Pretty sure I was swinging a broom like a baseball bat and yelling at Adam to "go long" when Benepe came up behind me.
ME: Uh, whoops. :D :D
AUDIENCE (as we had an audience by this point): What is going on.
ME: We're playing Canadian Rules Quidditch.
COACH REBECCA: Pronounced "Le Keedeetch."
ME: Normally our fields are longer, too. You know - metric field measurements. We're managing.
AUDIENCE: ...Sounds legit.
ME: Okay, guys! The score is oogy to boogy for the Maple Frogs! Play on!
The game then morphed into a giant game of Ninja and then a giant game of Octopus as we pulled bystanders from UMich and a bright orange team into the game. Rebecca and I were wailing with laughter the entire time; it was completely ridiculous and just such an experience of sheer joy. My face nearly split from grinning as the rest of the teams poured off the shuttle and into the park.
This was also when we bonded with UMich - or rather, my co-President did. True Quidcest Love: later in the day, the Michigan Seeker found her to proclaim that he had caught a Snitch just for her! This reminded me of cats who hunt small animals to present them to their masters as tokens of their affection.
"They come bearing the white hand of Saruman..." We have Uruk-hai for Chasers.
I ran into Joe Moses and Britney Coleman (you know, like you do) before our last game of pool play against SUNY Geneseo. This gal thinks we could have won had we been a bit more aggressive, and I agree, but it was a terrific game nonetheless.
GENESEO: Good game!
US: You guys just kicked us out of the tournament, so by all rights we shouldn't be happy right now, but... that was really fun :D
GENESEO: Oh my god I know right.
US: We need to play you guys again. Have your people talk to our people!
We finished in high spirits, Colin trying - and failing, with his voice like that of an elephantine mammal dying an unhappy, wheezy death - to rile us by screaming "We leave the way we came! OttawaU is hot to go!" We became known (infamous? :P) for our snare drum and team spirit: before every game, we would line up in formation in the Athletes' Village and march chanting out to each of our games accompanied by the drum (and on one memorable occasion disrupting one of Benepe's interviews. WHOOPS :D :D). Once our games were over, we did the same for Carleton, as though we were marching our sons off to war. We also had our chant and war dance that we performed before every game:
Who needs the Haka when you have the AVPS dance? This one has a clearer chant:
(Someone forgot to tell Dan - #1 - that we cut the soprano bit.)
We then became a Freelance Cheering Squad for the remaining Canadian teams and other friends we made (SUNY, Penn State, Berkeley, etc.), which was piles of fun, especially when Carleton played Middlebury.
(Carleton's Seeker was protecting the Snitch while Carleton got points up, prompting the Snitch to - obviously - spend more time in Carleton's end to avoid being caught.)
MIDD FANS: The Snitch isn't allowed to do that, he has to stay in the middle!
COLIN: The Snitch is allowed to do whatever it wants! That's the point of a Snitch!
SNITCH: *thumps up*
Two of our own players also became Freelance Commentators for the day, since the IQA was short on commentators and referees.
JON: We're going to spend the majority of our time commenting on the shapeliness of these players' calves, just so you know in advance.
ADAM: Luckily, here at Pitch 6 we are a short stroll from the EMT tent should you find yourself in need of assistance. Or if you're too hurt or Draco Malfoy, you can just roll across the floor.
JON: Wait, snitch, can you do that move again for us please? Damn, you's a sexy snitch.
Some golden lines from the weekend:
COMMENTATOR: Canadians roll their cigarettes themselves.
COMMENTATOR: You, referee, your shirt's untucked! Where do you think you are, Buckingham Palace?
COMMENTATOR: It's like the Cold War... but with Pancakes and Dinosaurs.
COMMENTATOR: West is the best, East is the... weast?
We played a friendly scrimmage with McGill to help them warm up for playoffs (apparently their first game of the day is never as good as the second, so we were happy to oblige), and then joined in a giant Canada vs US dodgeball game (which, appropriately, ended in a stalemate). Two of our players had been adopted for the weekend by the Swarthmore College team, which didn't have enough people to play. I think that sums up a lot of what I loved about the WC, and about Quidditch in general: competition was fierce, and everyone played fast and hard, but at the end of the day we were all there together to be ridiculous, make friends, and squeeze the most fun out of every second. People are there because they love Quidditch and are completely willing to be thrown into a giant field and find their place in it, dancing the whole time.
After McGill lost to Florida, we had another big scrimmage with them and Carleton on the dark dusty pitch until Florida showed up to play another team. After that game we scarfed down more pizza, rounded up the other Canadian teams, formed one last giant formation, and marched across the almost-empty pitches to Icahn Stadium for the final. We launched into 'O Canada' as we came up behind the ticket line, creating quite the spectacle for those waiting outside. When you can't go for the championship, you might as well go for dramatic flair ;)
Apart from Benepe's skillful snitching, the most unexpectedly hilarious parts of the pre-championship game came from the crowd: upon seeing the Quaffle Waffle truck driving along the path behind the stadium, the whole crowd began chanting "WA-FFLE TRUCK, WA-FFLE, TRUCK" (IDK, I just found it hysterically funny. Oh, college students. Bless) and whenever a yellow card was handed out, the crowd began to chant "You can't do that" repeatedly.
(One Snitch to rule them all...)
We all got up and danced our faces off in the stands whenever songs came on (if the camera had panned 180 degrees during this song, you would have seen us dancing much more exuberantly in the stands. My goal was to become known as "The Dancing Canadians" over the weekend, and I'm proud to say it was accomplished). Unfortunately we had to leave to catch our bus before the final game was over (sad panda), which was a little like making delicious cookies and not getting to eat them, but we all craned our necks to see in as the bus drove over the stadium ("Did it go in??" "No, no goal!"), and the team made me read the scores live from twitter. It was a touching and exhausting scene, calling "40-30 for Middlebury, another yellow card!" out over the hotel lobby.
We all piled onto the bus sweaty, stinky, and exhaustilarated (oooh, new word!). I made the mistake of asking the team to raise their hands so I could count them.
ME: No, oh dear god no, put your hands back down! The stench!
We made a 3am stop for washrooms and American junk food. Did you know there exist MASSIVE REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS? Like, that thing weighs more than a shotput. Disgusting and glorious to behold.
COLIN: I think the only thing on this bus that isn't processed is our body odour.
Having had quite a humorous encounter with the border agent on the way over in our explanation of Quidditch, we were prepared for another, but I doubt this one even made it all the way to the back of the bus.
CUSTOMS OFFICER: ...Can someone please crack a window? It is rank in here.
(I love these crazy kids.)
We made it back at around 8 am - someone tried to start a chant in the back of the bus until I called out that I was too tired for violence, but there would be pushups involved for the instigator. I arrived home at 8:30 am after a long and sleepless overnight bus trip, let my bags explode all over my room, took a shower, sat down... and woke up at 3pm. I got sick 3 days ago, so I still have not recovered full use of my voice since pre-World Cup.
COLIN: Seals keep mistaking me for a suitable mate.
All in all, it was a glorious weekend - one of the best of my life. It's incredible to think that most of these people didn't know each other 3 months ago, and look at how close we are now (the numerous puppypiles at the North Pole being evidence enough). I'm so, so incredibly proud of all of them: both at how well we performed and how well we comported ourselves. Hell, at 3 months old it's a miracle we're even toilet-trained. Even McGill made note of how much we'd improved even in the 2 weeks since the Canadian Cup. Given that we're such a young team (seriously, they're all babies), I'm so excited for our growth and all the opportunities we're going to have. It's been so heartening to see all the teams we met - and even some we didn't - write to us, and we had just the absolute best time we could.
(Kera, our dear Seeker)
It was simultaneously one of the most intense sporting competitions I've attended, and the most gloriously nerdy spectacle I've seen. (The team did, at one point, see me stand at the North Pole, sweep my arms over the scene, and shout "My people! I have arrived!") The camaraderie and good spirit among all players was heartfelt, palpable, and incredibly warm. So much work went into making this the success that it was - there were hiccups and problems, but overall it was just an astronomical success, a beautiful piece of magic.
COMMENTATOR: Randall's Island was, as we all know, constructed by magicians late last night...