Quidditch World Cup Leaves Middlebury for New York
The International Quidditch Association (IQA) announced today that they will move the Quidditch World Cup from Middlebury College in Vermont to New York City this Fall. The Quidditch World Cup will take place the weekend of Novermber 13th and 14th at the DeWitt Clinton Park (map, street view) in Mid-town Manhattan. That is a week and half before Thanksgiving break.
Commissioner and President Alex Benepe ’09 made the announcement on behalf of the newly formed non-profit organization that has taken on organizing responsibility as the governing body for the hundreds of Quidditch associations nationwide. The summer has been a transformative period for Benepe as he incorporated his organization as a 501c3, launched a new website, and formed a board of directors. The organization is also committed to beginning a full high school league.
On the decision to move the World Cup, Benepe writes in a recent email to the College administration: “There will be a definite loss of the beautiful setting of Middlebury, Vermont, and on a personal level it will be a big change for me and other members of the Middlebury community to see the event being moved.” He cites three main reasons for the move:
- The centrality of the location will allow more teams to compete, and also open the tournament to hundreds of high school teams, who expressed frustration at not being admitted to the event in past years.
- Hosting the tournament in New York will allow for a larger audience to attend the free event and become inspired to start their own teams.
- Time and again, Middlebury and other liberal arts students are encouraged to bring their talents out to the world and give back to communities. By transporting Middlebury’s World Cup to New York City, and most of its fans, we will be showcasing one of the many creative products that Middlebury has generated, in one the biggest cities in the world.
This will no doubt cause outcries from devoted Middlebury students who have witnessed first-hand the emergence of Quidditch as a sport. But besides losing the backdrop of the Green Mountains, carillon ringing the Harry Potter theme song, and stone faced buildings, the event will require increasing amounts of coordination that come easily to Middlebury on the secluded Vermont campus. Last year, dining halls at Middlebury absorbed hundreds of extra students eating meals, dorms housed hundreds of players, and facilities/public safety kept the World Cup crowds satisfied and safe. Benepe sees it as stepping “outside of our comfort zone,” yet also zeros-in on the very specific challenges of “helping teams set up accommodations, raising money, and dealing with a whole new set of area rules and regulations regarding special events.” Teams will also find it a lot easier to find transport to New York as opposed to navigating the maze of getting to Vermont. And there should be no shortage of helping hands in New York as a devoted fan base nationwide could make the World Cup a Harry Potter convention of sorts. Benepe also benefits from the advice of his father Adrian Benepe, a Middlebury Trustee and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for New York City.
The Middlebury Quidditch (MiddQuid) team could face increasing competition. But the Midd organization, led by Kate Olen ’11, Phil Palmer ’12, and Andy Hyatt ’12, will have more room and resources to focus on fielding the best team for the World Cup without having to also simultaneously organize the event itself. In an email to the MiddQuid students announcing the change, they said: “…we want the Midd Cup to be as big as the World Cup was for us last year. We are not looking to just maintain our current level of Quidditch – we are looking to strengthen it. And with this fulfilling fall schedule of Quidditch, we will be able to find the Middlebury team most fit to represent our school at the World Cup.” Look for a team bus and likely (several?) fan buses to go down to New York and plenty of “friendly” games nearby at Green Mountain College and UVM.
The roots of Quidditch will always be here at Middlebury, Benepe says. “With Middlebury’s help, we started a trend not only at our College but on a national and increasingly international level. The enthusiasm and acceptance of an unconventional idea exemplify the core values of Middlebury and a liberal arts education in general, and we will not forget this.” And yet, it is definitely an experiment. “If it doesn’t work out, or even if it does, the World Cup may be back at Middlebury in the future.”