In the Sweet Sixteen, Ball State defeated Texas, a team who previously won nationals three times. Junior secondary education major and assistant coach Erin Moreno said going into the game, she did not expect Ball State to win.
“We won that game and — oh my gosh, I literally could not believe that we won,” she said. “It was unbelievable. I really could not believe it, and our team just balled out, as we say.”
The team had to qualify for nationals at regionals during the Fall Semester. During games, Moreno leads cheers on the sidelines and calls out things she doesn’t think the team will see while they are playing.
“It’s very, very stressful, especially having a leadership position on the team," Moreno said. "I’m pretty much constantly worried about if I’m doing the right thing for the team. … There’s different times where you have to push your team and there’s different times when you have to encourage your team, and so it’s really kinda making that distinction a lot."
President Rebecca Sampson, a junior psychology major, has played the sport for three years and has been to nationals every year. She said the competition is crazy because of the amount of teams and spectators that are there.
“It’s a lot different than any other tournament we compete in. ... The games are a lot more intense, the competition is more brutal. It’s a lot more fun, I think,” Sampson said. “This is the farthest Ball State has gotten at the national level ever.”
Luke Lipps, a sophomore criminal justice major, has been playing quidditch for two years. He said different regions have different playing styles, so when they go to a competition, they have to change their normal playing style.
“We watch games of other teams that we know are playing," Lipps said. "Each position focuses on what they do well and what they do poorly, and we plan around capitalizing on their weaknesses and making sure their strengths get slowed down or stopped."
Sophomore accounting major Andrew Caratini played a position he had never played before due to a change three weeks before the competition, which he called a very surreal experience.
“I think the leadership that we have on our team is really what helped us do so well, and it made everybody that hadn’t necessarily been there or had that much experience be able to do so well,” Caratini said. “I’ve played sports my entire life, and there’s just something about quidditch that the adrenaline just gets pumping and it just is a lot of fun.”
Another member of the team, Blake Fitzgerald, played three games with a broken nose after getting hit.
“He wasn’t going to play in the Texas game because he didn’t want to injure it anymore, and then at one point during the game, we were doing so well that he said, 'You know, I don’t care if I injure it any more, I’m playing,'” Caratini said. “I think that was a really big thing for us because it allowed [the seeker] to rest on the sidelines and get ready to go catch the snitch. … [It was] definitely impressive.”