Jun 29, 2017

(RSS) Club Sports


Virginia quidditch flies high at World Cup

This article is a guest blog post by John Cooper, a 1988 graduate of the Law School and a parent of a Virginia first year.

The University of Virginia's Quidditch A-team, the Whomping Wahoos, soared to new heights in the eighth US Quidditch World Cup in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on April 11-12.

Quidditch is an up-and-coming sport, especially on college campuses. In only its fifth year at Virginia, Quidditch is a three-ring circus of fun for spectators and student-athletes alike. This year, the Virginia team reached the Sweet 16, its deepest dive into the national tournament ever.

Virginia’s final game in the World Cup was a grueling duel with the Lost Boys of Los Angeles, California, a club team that ultimately made it into the Final Four. The No. 41 Whomping Wahoos gave the No. 3 Lost Boys all they could handle in a long match that went until the snitch had to be handicapped, with one arm kept behind its back to allow easier capture.

The game was close throughout, with Virginia trailing just slightly outside the 30-point margin which is the value of a seeker capturing the snitch. Each time Virginia would get close to the points needed to force a tie and overtime, the Lost Boys seemed to pull another quaffle through a hoop out of nowhere to push the edge just out of Virginia’s reach.

The excitement at the World Cup was palpable. Many mid-Atlantic fans and teams were cheering on Virginia, including competitors like University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University. Maryland, which Virginia had recently fought in a close defensive struggle back at the Whomping Wahoos’ North Grounds Park, made the Final Four. UNC also had a strong finish.

Virginia’s final record for the World Cup was 4-3. The Saturday matches included a strong win against No. 40 Texas Tech, a blowout loss to No. 11 Tufts University — the top seed from the Northeast — and a rally to beat the Harvard Horntails. The nightcap was played under the lights against No. 32 Blue Mountain, a community team from the Midwest who — although behind by the Wahoos for most of the game — managed to grab the snitch in under a minute at the end to deal Virginia a disappointing loss.

Coming into Sunday morning, Virginia needed a win in its first match to have any chance of getting into bracket play. Fortunately, Virginia put on a strong showing against UCLA. The No. 18 Bruins fought hard, but Virginia seemed to want it more.

The Whompsters qualified for bracket play, which whittles the tournament’s original 80-team field to 24. At that point, they learned would once again play Tufts, which had destroyed Virginia the day before on a series of alley-oop uncontested slam dunks. Luckily, senior chaser captain Kyle Stolcenberg came up with a way to respond to Tufts overnight. Virginia looked like a completely different squad Sunday against the much higher-ranked team — Tufts had been in the top 10 nationally for most of the season. The Wahoos adjusted by having junior goalkeeper Erik Morlock ‘The Warlock’ come back through the hoop every time Tufts tried to stuff the quaffle in. The Wahoos also put in the tallest players from a relatively small squad. This redesigned defense was smothering and Virginia won when senior seeker Christopher Burkhalter cleanly grabbed the snitch to end the game. The Wahoos’ upset victory moved them into the second round of bracket play for the first time in school history.

Although the loss to the Lost Boys was the end of their Cinderella story, the Whomping Wahoos showed that they knew how to summon a lot of magic and had a wild ride in the 2015 US World Cup. Although many of the leaders and stars of the team may move on next year, strong key players and leadership remain and Virginia has a good chance of moving forward to be even better next year.

Coming to the table

Did you know Virginia has a club table tennis team? Did you know that the team was actually founded in 1973? No? We didn’t either. So The Cavalier Daily decided it was a good idea to get the highs, the lows and the volleys of Virginia Club Table Tennis.

“UVa IM/Rec has a table tennis class designed as an intro to the sport or as an additional method to learn techniques and skills,” said coach Lewis Bragg of the Charlottesville Table Tennis Club, who also founded the University's table tennis team.

Virginia Club Table Tennis is a part of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and competes against other schools in and around the area, including Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and Georgetown. The competitions feature best-of-five matches, wherein each game goes to the first player to reach 11 points.

The Virginia club team is composed of both recreational and competitive players — organized by skill level into three different squads (A, B and C teams) of four players each. Those who choose not to compete can practice with the team for fun, but placement on one of the three teams is determined by a competitive hierarchy. Players challenge each other to move up in the rankings.

The group practices on Wednesday and Friday evenings. They are usually free-form, in which recreational and competitive members can “rally and play practice matches with whomever they choose,” said Rob Shimshock, co-president of Virginia Club Table Tennis.

University students and members of the Charlottesville community are welcome to come and watch both the practices and matches. They take place in the Slaughter Recreation Room in accordance to the division schedule.

The club's fall tournament took place last Saturday — the team beat VCU 3-1 and lost to VT 1-3.

“The tournament was a great opportunity for new players to attain an NCTTA rating,” Shimshock said. “U.Va. debuted several new players, including our first-ever C-Team.”

Tryouts for the group take place during the first few weeks of each new semester. Prospective team members must pay $20 club dues to compete in a tournament which distinguishes who will play on which team.

Skating figure eights

It may come as a surprise for some of you to find out that the University has its own figure skating club. Believe it or not, it’s true!

Club Figure Skating at U.Va. has been around for a few years now, but this past October marked the first season the team was able to compete against other collegiate club teams throughout the country.

The intercollegiate figure skating competition season is the fastest growing aspect of competitive figure skating. Governed by the U.S. Figure Skating’s Collegiate Program Committee, there are three individual competitions that comprise a club figure skating conference.

Each competition is hosted at a different intercollegiate figure skating club. Skaters compete individually categorized as free skate, solo dance, or part of a team skating event. Skaters earn points for how well their individual routine goes, and the individual points are tallied in order to award points to the club team as a whole.

Each skater and team placing in the top-five rankings throughout the individual events earns their college top points. The three colleges with the most points throughout the season in each conference are invited to compete at the U.S. Intercollegiate Team Figure Skating Championships.

There are three conferences that exist in the United States: the Eastern Conference, consisting of 20 teams; the Midwestern Conference, consisting of 10 teams; and the Pacific Coast, which consists of three teams. The Virginia Club Figure Skating Team is a member of the Eastern Conference, competing with other schools along the East Coast.

“The collegiate circuit is different than other competitions,” second-year Outreach Chair Lia Cattaneo said. “You’re competing against people your own age with the same priorities.”

The team consists of 10-15 skaters in total, and five of which skate competitively. Any dues-paying skater is counted as a member of the team, but only those that choose to participate in competitions are counted as competitive skaters.

The team practices every Tuesday morning from 6:30 a.m.-8:00 a.m. at the Main Street Skating Rink in downtown Charlottesville.

“The rink has been really good to us as we try to break into competing with the club team,” third-year captain Stephanie Colen said. “We split the ice costs with the Charlottesville Skating Club and they give us a really good deal.”

The team itself is segmented into different ability levels ranging from novice skaters to more advanced skaters. Although there is no formal coaching staff, the team frequently works with two graduate students, as well as collaborates among itself in order to develop routines.

“Choreographing ourselves is something that skaters are not usually asked to do,” Colen said. “There are minor details that you can’t feel and need to see, which is a cool experience for us.”

Because the club team offers spots for all levels of skating, they are currently seeking skaters for next year’s season. In addition to expanding their competition team, the figure skating team has put its hat in the ring with the U.S. Figure Skating Association in order to host a competition in Charlottesville.

“The goal for this year was to skate our best and figure out what we should do for next year, and we definitely accomplished that,” Cattaneo said.

Interested students can like the organization on Facebook to view updates for open days to go skate with the team, as well as other promotional activities meant to raise awareness about the Club Figure Skating team and get more people on the ice.

Play On

Yesterday, the University of Virginia Club Field Hockey team hosted the University of North Carolina and the University of Maryland yesterday at our very own Carr’s Hill Field. The Virginia field hockey team (8-2-1) is currently ranked 10th in the nation, with the outcome of this tournament potential being a measure of the team’s national title aspirations.

Rankings are split up into divisions and goal differentials. Club teams are divided into Division 1 and Division 2, which affects how they are ranked. However, teams will often play against teams in a separate division, but it is weighted differently in the ranking process.

After an impressive win against the University of North Carolina, Virginia’s competition was intensified in the 1:30 game against Maryland. After an intense play, the game resulted in a tie.

The games themselves are an hour long, divided into two halves. Each team features 10 players and a goalie on the field with regular substitutions in between plays. Each player keeps a position, similar to that of ice hockey or soccer, dividing themselves into forwards, midfielders, and defensive players.

“I’m very happy with my decision to join the team, it’s fun,” commented Selma Pulak, a first year student who joined the team just recently.

As is common in team sports, much of the performance is dictated through communication on the field and a relationship with the other players. After the team lost a significant portion of the athletes to graduation last spring, there was a heavy emphasis placed on recruitment to fill those spots and build back the team.

“We lost a lot of good players last year, but the incoming first years are versatile, reliable,” president Vicky Graham said. “We have a strong, well-rounded team this season.”

Virginia had much success recruiting freshman players this season. Out of 27 players on the team, around 15 of them are first years. Such strong freshman interest in the team has been beneficial for the team so far, achieving a winning record and a national ranking, even after a shaky start to the season and a performance at the first home tournament of the season that left the Cavaliers with a losing record.

Despite being rookie players, it is not uncommon for new players on the team to have had field hockey experience before.

“Most players have played in high school and we choose players per season based on experience level as well as interest level,” Graham said. “A lot of players could have been D3 athletes, but chose to play here.”

The potential inexperience of rookie players is overshadowed by the competitive atmosphere from the moment the team steps on the field. Every member of their team has their eye on a National Championship prize. The team has one clear goal in mind for the season.

“We have to qualify first for the championship round, but our goal is to win the whole thing,” President Vicky Graham said.

The team has a past history of qualifying for the championship tournament but consistently coming up short in the final round. A respectable performance, but you can tell that they’re all just itching to finally bring home the trophy. The National Field Hockey League Championship is held in April in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“We’ve been so close,” Graham commented, “It would just be the cherry on top of a great season with a great team if we could bring home the title.”

If the season carries on like today, the Cavaliers certainly have the potential, the record, and the ranking to earn a National Championship this spring. Only the remaining course of the season will tell.

"Fencers Ready, Fence"

The Virginia Fencing Club hosted their inaugural tournament this weekend at Memorial Gymnasium. The tournament featured Fencers from George Washington University, the University of Mary Washington, and Liberty University.

For those who may be unfamiliar with fencing, the sport is divided into three categories based on weapon. Foil, a lighter weapon in which fencers target the torso area specifically; épée, original sword of the sport in which any point of contact is fair game; and sabre, the weapon used to target any point of contact above the waist. Matches are timed to 3 minutes and last until one of the fencers scores 5 points or the clock runs out.

“Today is primarily designed to be a learning experience,” Fencing Club President Nick Monahan said.

This first tournament was specifically designed for rookie fencers – those new to the sport or new to Virginia, or new to competing with that weapon. The competition grouped fencers into pools and had them compete in individual matches against each other, round robin style. After all of the pools have completed, a bracket is created for the direct elimination rounds. The fencers then compete individually for a first place, second place, or third place score.

“It’s always fun. This is mostly for the new guys to check it out and see if it’s something they want to continue with,” junior Andrew Becker said. “Hopefully they stick with it, usually the more they get into it, the more they like it.”

Of the 40 active members of the fencing team, 20 new members from the Virginia fencing team competed in the tournament.

“It’s been great having all this interest,” senior Amy Linderman said, “our new fencers are really dedicated and we’ve been pushing them really hard, but they’ve been taking it well.”

This year, the fencing club showed a greater interest in sabreurs than in previous years. In fencing with a sabre, there is no typical “right of way” meaning that any fencer can attack or parry an attack at any point in time. In foil and épée, however, a fencer can only score when they are on the offensive. The sabre is the cavalier style of fencing, and is typically described with dramatic thrashing movements in which you can earn a point with the side of the weapon as well as point. This is another basic difference from foil and épée, in which points are earned with the tip of the weapon.

Erin Goodier, a first year who is new to the sport and new to Virginia fencing competed in her first round as a sabreur today.

“It’s really fun and just as exciting as I thought it would be,” Erin reflected, “You don’t have to poke people, you just have to be aggressive at the right time.”

As the rookie fencers were competing, the veteran fencers served as judges, coaches and administrators of the tournament. President Monahan who not only was in charge of running the tournament, was also head judge and everyone’s go-to for problem solving.

You can’t help but feel the pride and excitement of the veteran fencers as the newer members were competed. Virginia fencing is completely student-run and operated. Although they typically hire a coach for one week in January, the practices and training are run by veteran captains chosen by level of experience and interest in the sport.

The general atmosphere of camaraderie is eminent even to the newest fencers. Jacob Blevins, a first year competing in épée sums it up perfectly.

“I like it better that way [with student coaches],” Blevins said. “It just seems easier for people closer to your age to teach you.”

There’s no doubt that Virginia fencing is excited about what the upcoming season has to offer. With 8 major tournaments on the horizon and countless invitational events, there are plenty of opportunities for the team to show their enthusiasm for the sport; and with an active twitter site (@Virginiafencing) and a spectator friendly atmosphere, the entire student body also has the opportunity to learn about it too.

Club tennis places second in On Campus Invitational

The Virginia club tennis team cruised through the USTA Tennis On Campus Invitational until a familiar foe waited in the finals – Duke. The defending champion Cavaliers lost 26-23 in the tournament’s championship round, falling to the same Blue Devil team they topped in last year’s finals.

“We feel like we kind of have a friendly rivalry with Virginia,” Duke’s senior captain Stephanie Dudzinski said in a release. “We are both from different USTA sections but we tend to run into them a lot at these big events. I know our guys waited a full year for this match.”

Virginia crushed Colorado’s ‘A’ team, 27-12, in the morning’s semi-finals round but faced a 20-18 deficit entering the championship’s final portion, mixed doubles. Virginia captain Derek Gale and Faby Chaillo pushed the Blue Devils to a 5-5 tie in their match, but Duke ultimately captured the tiebreaker to clinch the win.

“We gave it all we had and came up a bit short,” Gale said. “It’s a tough one to lose, for sure. We got down a bit in doubles and could never recover. They are a solid team and we hope to see them again at Nationals.”

With the runner-up finish, Virginia receives an automatic bid to April’s 2013 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship. The Cavaliers placed second in last season’s championship after losing to Cal-Berkley in the finals.

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