A magically delightful view of the Utah Royals in another world. I stand by all my assertions in this piece even if the context is a bit silly.
Welcome to the opening days of the 2019 American Quidditch Season.
While some of you reading are surely fans of the Utah Wisps Quodpot team, for some reason, most of our fellow Americans are nuts about this all American sport. Those of us in the Quidditch world have been gearing up for Utah Royals QC; Quidditch Club for those not in the know. Someone has surely been messing with time turners to extend this offseason to double the time it usually takes, by the feel of it. What should have been six months off felt closer to six years as we waited for the roaring Utah Royals QC to head back to the pitch.
Second-year manager Laura Harvey, a proud graduate of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and three-year captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, has been rumored to have scouted all over the magical world for the best players to lead her team in 2019.
As a quick referrer for you Quodpot fans out there, Quidditch is played with seven players on the pitch per team at a time. One keeper leads with two beaters to aid in defense. The three chasers are out there to score goals with the Quaffle while the seeker is looking for the 150-point golden snitch that ends the game.
The Utah Royals QC team features some of the best of each the magical sports playing world has to offer.
Starting in the back with the Royals keeper core of Nicole Barnhart and Abby Smith, the team starts strong. While Smith favors a style that pushes her out a little more, sometimes in the path of a rogue bludger, Barnhart favors a bit more reserved style. Both are skilled flyers who are not nervous to make diving and spectacular saves to keep their team ahead or close in games. Look for Smith and Barnhart to split time between the posts this year as the choice between them may come down to who is better suited to face their adversary that week.
The beater core is one of the finest in the league, featuring players from four different countries with different styles among them.
The captain of the team and the lead beater, Becky Sauerbrunn, has been around the game for a decade playing on an American side that gave their best performance in the Women’s World Cup in recent memory. Her usual partner in the back half of the pitch is Scotland’s own, Rachel Corsie. A skilled beater in her own right the pair has an almost magical chemistry on the pitch that leads one to wonder if they are using outlawed telepathic charms to read each other’s minds.
Rounding out the beater corps is Canadian Desiree Scott, nicknamed “The Destroyer” for good reason. She has one of the hardest hits in the game and has brought more than one chaser to the ground in both international and league play. Americans Samantha Johnson and Sydney Miramontez add grit to the unit that is welcomed for the position. Icelandic international Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jónsdóttir is a skilled beater and plays in the chaser ranks when needed.
The chaser ranks for the Royals are a mix of skilled veterans and some up and comers, with some players returning to duty after injuries sent them swirling down.
The starting tandem of Kelley O’Hara, Amy Rodriguez, and Spanish international Verónica Boquete are an aggressive, skilled core that the team can be proud to start games. Boquete is a newcomer to the team and a European legend. Her flare on a broom and the way she can shoot, while being a skilled director of the attack is going to give the Royals a different bite than they had the year before.
O’Hara is coming back from a nasty bludger to the ankle that has kept her on and off the pitch for the last year, but all signs point to her being healthy and able to both score goals when needed and slot back to a beater position. Longtime fans of the league should need no introduction to Amy Rodriguez, one of the all-time playoff greats who has two championship rings at home.
While Katie Stengel’s size might lead most to believe she should live among the beaters of the league, she has a nose for the goal that can be a great weapon when used correctly. She is a goal scorer at heart and leans herself to leading very different attacks for the team.
Katie Bowen, Erika Tymrak, Mandy Laddish, Lo’eau LaBonta, Taylor Lytle, and Makenzy Doniak round out the chaser contingent. Each is a skilled flyer with good skills with the ball in hand. Bowen, Tymrak, and Lytle can light up the outside flanks as they pass inward for quick goals. Mandy Laddish returns to play after more than two years recovering from injury. She can change games when her way of controlling the middle of the pitch, but time will tell if she can recapture her former glory.
Brittany Ratcliffe sadly will miss the season with a nasty case of Dragon Pox.
No one tell Christen Press that seekers are usually the smallest on the pitch. While the Canadian great of Diana Matheson fits the seeker build a bit more closely, Press has historically shined brightly in the role. Fast as a pixie and twice as tough is a fitting descriptor of the American. Press has shown moments of that form for the Royals after coming in partway through the last season. The team is going to lean on her while she’s with them, before the Quidditch World Cup kicks off, to catch the snitch and seal each match.
As we head into the 2019 season of the American Quidditch League, all those with eyes on Utah have a lot to look forward to. A fast, aggressive team led by a manager who has a hunger for winning the title that she has been working towards since the league was founded.
Don’t forget to make your way to Rio Tinto on Saturday. Portkeys will be placed in all usual transport places.