Learn more about what recruitment looks like during the quarantine through an interview with Quidditch in Iowa’s Lily Neumann.
USQ is doing a four part editorial series on the wealth of quidditch content being produced right now by our community. This is part four.
The quarantine has halted many of quidditch’s normal activities, from practices to tournaments to in-person social events. However, just as our members have found ways to connect with each other, they’ve also been working to make new connections and grow the quidditch community.
One great example of this is Quidditch in Iowa, a new group dedicated to growing quidditch in the state of Iowa. The group was started by three alumni from the two existing Iowa quidditch teams: Lily Neumann, Andrew Folkmann, and Erica Dodge. The group is working towards four interconnected goals: (1) Starting more teams in Iowa, (2) promoting the two existing teams through tournament, fundraiser, and recruitment support, (3) partnering with local cities and organizations to hold youth quidditch events and clinics, and (4) generally spreading awareness of the sport in Iowa and connecting the local community with the quidditch community.
In between her recruitment efforts, Lily Neumann was kind enough to take the time to (virtually) chat with us about how Quidditch in Iowa is adapting during the quarantine, and to share some tips for other teams and regions looking to grow the sport during this time.
What does recruitment look like during the quarantine?
Our focus has mostly been on getting our name out on social media and spreading awareness that we exist. This will consist of us posting in local Facebook groups, asking local pages to share our content, and potentially buying some ads. We will also be posting features on the two existing Iowa teams soon, with the intention of helping their fall recruitment efforts. We want to have a very close relationship with the two teams so we can support their growth, and we hope that their success will inspire students at other schools in the state to start their own teams.
What are some of the unique challenges to recruiting during quarantine?
I was actually set to meet with students and staff at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, IA, on March 13, but that was the day it was declared a national emergency and Maharishi stopped allowing visitors to campus. We had already been in contact for a few weeks about their desire to start a team, so it's been frustrating to have to put a complete hold on that. Erica had also organized a month-long Monday night class with the city for kids to come learn about quidditch, and we had to cancel it the week before it started. Generally, it's been difficult to get people excited about and interested in quidditch when they can't come and see the game in-person.
Are there any silver linings for recruitment during this time?
I will say that it was very easy to get to 100 likes on the Facebook page within 24 hours of creating it! I do think that this is a good time to reach people via social media, since more people are browsing Facebook and Instagram and are more likely to engage with posts. Additionally, once we start making connections online and locating groups that are interested in working with us, we will have plenty of time in advance to plan and organize events.
Where do you hope or expect recruitment efforts to be by the end of this time?
We really want to create an online presence for ourselves, make people aware that we exist, and build connections with local groups that we can then work with after quarantine ends. We're definitely hoping to do a lot with youth quidditch post-quarantine because it's so important for the growth of the sport, so contacting the Coralville Parks & Recreation Department to set up a program is definitely in our plans. I know that the Iowa Quidditch Club has been contacted by various Girl Scout troops in the past, so they’re also an organization we're interested in connecting with.
Which community organizations have you had luck connecting with? What kinds of groups would you recommend teams reach out to?
We've been incredibly lucky in that Iowa City has been so supportive of quidditch. When I was president of the Iowa team, I had a close working relationship with the Manager of Sports Development at the Iowa City & Coralville Visitors Bureau, which was incredibly helpful for hosting our fall tournament. Erica has had success with Iowa City Parks & Rec, and last summer a few of us got a chance to teach quidditch at Cedar Rapids Parks & Rec's Harry Potter camps. We also partnered with the Burlington City Library, the University of Northern Iowa Rod Library, Take a Kid Outdoors, and various other local groups to host successful youth quidditch events.
I think that supporting the other less mainstream sports in your community is important, and they're always eager to lend their support right back, in my experience. One of my favorite community outreach events we did was when the Old Capitol City Roller Derby team invited us to scrimmage during the half-time of one of their bouts. What's better than quidditch and roller derby?
Do you have any other recruitment tips for other regions, during quarantine and during regular season?
I think the best thing you can do to help with recruitment right now is to just make people aware of who you are. During my time with the Iowa Quidditch Club, especially the first season, I put a major focus on our social media presence and our relationship to the local community. During the regular season, I've found that there are always community organizations, especially recreation, sport, and kid-focused groups that are eager to include quidditch in their programming-- you just have to make your presence known to them.
At risk of sounding repetitive, I really do believe that the best way to make connections and recruit to your team is to make yourself a presence within your community. Hold a practice in a city park or some visible place on campus, because, as we all know, people will walk by and ask, "What are you doing?" Go to school or local events as a team and wear your jerseys or other quidditch apparel. Keep your social media pages active and engage with your followers. If you make the community aware that quidditch exists, there will be people who want to get involved in some form, so establish yourself or your team as the local "go-to" for more information. It's a lot easier to recruit from a community who knows about and is invested in their local quidditch team!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Lily Neumann is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa, where she co-founded the Iowa Quidditch Club and served as its former president. Lily now plays chaser for Chicago United Quidditch Club and volunteers with USQ as their Social Media Coordinator, in addition to her work with Quidditch in Iowa.
Madison Vaughn is the PR Coordinator for USQ and was previously a member of UCLA Quidditch for 4 years. She misses being the team mom, but is looking forward to being the team grandma with cheers and cookies when quidditch resumes again.