USQ Update

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COVID-19 and USQ Events Update for Spring

USQ Cup 14 has been cancelled and the in-person official events will not be allowed for the remainder of the 20-21 season. Learn more about how USQ will be supporting teams and members in the coming months.

After months of planning and exploring various safety measures, US Quidditch has decided to cancel US Quidditch Cup 14, which was set to take place this upcoming April in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although some areas have been able to return to practice, the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have made hosting such a large scale national-level championship too unsafe for participants, volunteers, staff, and the host community. 

When making the decision, USQ staff focused on two key questions: is it safe for us to have a national-level event this season, and if it is safe, what might team participation look like? Staff consulted with the risk management team, analyzed the current COVID-19 case numbers in Utah and around the country, and worked with regional coordinators to review feedback from teams. 

The risk management team assessed a variety of safety factors, including the overall rise in cases nationally and in Utah, quarantine policies related to state-to-state travel, state outdoor sport restrictions, and limitations on the size of gatherings. The risk management team  concluded that case numbers would need to go down dramatically across the country to meet our return to play guidelines. Per the return to play (RTP) guidelines a team going to an event out of state needs to meet the baseline requirements of both the state they are from and the state they are traveling to. The risk management team doesn't think that case numbers in Utah or the majority of other states will be low enough by April for us to have a national level event. 

Regional coordinators reached out to teams to gauge their interest and ability to attend USQ Cup if it were to take place in April. There was not strong support for nationals among the teams they connected with. Lack of full practice opportunities due to case numbers, travel restrictions in place by schools, and slow vaccine distribution rates were a few reasons voiced as concerns.

“After careful consideration of COVID-19 trends, new variants, and the speed of the vaccine roll-out we determined that it is not possible to safely host nationals this year. The health and safety of our community and beyond are our top priority,” said Risk Management Team Lead Rebecca Martin.

In-person official and sanctioned events will not be allowed for the remainder of this season. We will continue to require teams to follow our return to play guidelines should anyone wish to hold practices, scrimmages, or other in-person events. It is essential that teams and community members continue to follow public health guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing. The full return to play guidelines, stages, and baseline requirements can be downloaded here. They are also available on our website. Teams holding practices or games at a given stage must submit this checklist form to the member services department when they first begin holding in-person activities. 

Membership, Registration, and Ticket Credits

Those who purchased membership for the 20-21 season will have it automatically applied to the 21-22 season. This includes team memberships, player memberships (both adult and virtual), non-player referee memberships, and fan memberships. Refunds are available on a case by case basis. To request a refund, fill out this form by April 30.

Teams who elected to have their USQ Cup 13 team registration fee available as a credit for this season will have that credit available next season as well.

Ticket buyers from USQ Cup 13 who requested a credit for USQ Cup 14 tickets will have those credits applied to USQ Cup 15. 

Events in the 21-22 season and beyond

USQ looks forward to events returning for the 2021-22 season, but no official decisions have been made as to what the season will look like. The currently scheduled regional championships dates and locations can be found here. USQ will continue to prioritize the health, safety, and success of our athletes, teams, volunteers, and the community as a whole when making decisions about USQ events and return to play. 

More information on the 2021-22 season structure will be released in April.

Future US Quidditch Cup locations

Due to the cancellation of a much-anticipated west coast national championship, the decision was made to change the location of the 2022 USQ Cup. Previously awarded to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, USQ Cup 15 will now be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Valley Forge has been awarded USQ Cup 16 for 2023. Below are the new dates and locations.

US Quidditch Cup 15
Salt Lake City, Utah
April 23-24, 2022

US Quidditch Cup 16
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
April 2023

USQ Priorities for 2021

Over the next 11 months, USQ is focusing on three priorities: keeping teams engaged and preparing them for the upcoming season, as well as laying the groundwork for future growth. 

“USQ has undergone a lot of changes in the last year, and I look forward to putting them into practice as we focus our energies on getting teams back to playing again. From rebranding to season structure and beyond, I’m committed to making bold, major changes that will push USQ and the sport into its next phase of development.” said Executive Director Mary Kimball.

One of the big changes that was implemented in December was the introduction of volunteer department managers, a leadership position between the executive team and team leads. USQ is excited to announce the first three department managers:

  • Christian Barnes: Gameplay Manager
  • Fabiana Echeverria: Marketing & PR Manager
  • Jeremy Schleicher: Internal Events Manager

Member Services Updates

The member services department has done significant outreach to teams this season, providing support through regular meetings, USQ’s mentorship program and other services. 

"Once it is possible to return to play, we recognize that many teams will need extra support from USQ in doing so. In the member services department, we are currently discussing several initiatives and outreach efforts that can be done to ease the burden of eventual return to play for the teams who will be hit the hardest." said Region Support Team Lead Grace Weidemann.

The member services department, split into member relations and member development divisions, is launching several new initiatives for the second half of this season to get teams started on the road to recovery. Those initiatives include:

  • Expanding the team membership grant program
  • Launching a new grant program geared towards BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) players 
  • Creating a webinar series for coaches and team leaders
  • Creating an outreach plan geared towards college club sport and student activities administrators 
  • Launching the new athlete development team
  • Streamlining member registration process for 2021-22 season

Events Department Updates

In lieu of having an in-person USQ Cup this season, a coalition of staff from different departments are launching a nationwide virtual tournament this spring. It will be an opportunity for the quidditch community to compete against one another in a socially distanced format, centered around online games.

"The USQ Events Department remains committed to planning competitive, engaging, and safe tournaments of the highest caliber, and we look forward to the day that we can welcome you back to the pitch. Until then, we are excited to develop unique and captivating virtual events alongside our community partners, and will continue to use this downtime to improve our events for when we return to play." said Internal Events Manager Jeremy Schleicher.

The events department is working with the gameplay and member services departments to determine the format of USQ events next season. Director of Events and Partnerships Laura Porth, who manages the events and gameplay departments, is also focused on future USQ events. Throughout the past several months, Porth has had meetings with a variety of prospective event hosts, and will continue to do so throughout 2021. The dates and locations of events in the 22-23 season will be announced in August, and the bid manual for the 23-24 season will launch in October. 

Additionally, the events department is working on:

  • Developing an in-house event volunteer database and registration system
  • Completing an inventory of USQ equipment
  • Supporting QuidCon in collaboration with Major League Quidditch and Quidditch Canada

Gameplay Department Updates

The new team leads in the gameplay department (gameplay, referees, rules, and snitches) have been leading discussions with their volunteers on their project focuses for the next year, as well as their overall goals for the different areas of gameplay they serve. 

"The USQ Gameplay Department has been using what would have been the 2020-21 season to adjust and update our policies. We’ve focused significantly on how our season, standings, and tournament structures can be improved to better serve teams at all desired levels of competition. As we continue preparing for next season, we plan on making considerable shifts in transparency and assessing community input as we create new resources for players, officials, team leadership, and staff." said Gameplay Manager Christian Barnes.

Ongoing and upcoming projects include:

  • Releasing the casebook
  • Creating and editing Rulebook 15
  • Redoing the USQ standings algorithm 
  • Creating a new season structure for USQ events
  • Creating new educational materials for referees and snitches, including videos
  • Implementing the revamped snitch assignment process
  • Revamping existing referee certification system and tests

Communications Department Updates

The communications department has been meeting regularly to discuss long term content strategy and themes, which will be rolled out on USQ’s website and social media channels later this season.

"From the ‘Save Quidditch’ campaign, to the DEI initiatives, and talks of rebranding, the communications department has had a busy year providing content and information to the US quidditch community. In the coming year, we hope to continue and improve such efforts and use this opportunity to bring players, volunteers, and fans together in the digital space." said Marketing & PR Manager Faby Echeverria.

Other projects include:

  • Finishing the livestream training program
  • Creating a livestream A/V volunteer program
  • Finishing the branding review and taking next steps
  • Launching new seasonal lines of merchandise
  • Creating video content for the gameplay department

Office of the ED Updates

As part of the latest phase of restructuring, the office of the ED was split into two groups, program development and operations. Program development includes the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee; conferences; the US national team; and youth. Operations includes advancement, finance, risk management, web development, and volunteer engagement.

Program Development

The full list of current projects for the DEI committee are available here. For the other teams, here’s what they are focusing on:

  • Reviewing applications for players and staff for the USNT and the USNTDA
  • Creating and editing youth rulebook 3
  • Writing the PE curriculum for youth quidditch
  • Finalizing the youth coach certification program
  • Planning a youth quidditch virtual program
  • Collaborating with conference leaders to address challenges and prep for the 21-22 season

Operations

  • Finalizing the form 990 for the 19-20 season
  • Redesigning USQ website and creating a mobile app
  • Running a fundraiser in collaboration with the board of directors
  • Launching new player safety initiatives
  • Conducting a safety audit of the rules and gameplay policies in collaboration with the gameplay department

Finances

USQ’s board of directors and executive director are committed to keeping operating costs low for the remainder of the 21-22 season, due to the effects of the pandemic. Cost saving measures include:

  • Keeping payroll cuts through June 2021: as previously announced, both full-time staff moved to 30 hours a week effective October 10. Laura Porth, the director of events and partnerships, was furloughed in November. Mary Kimball, the executive director, took a 55% pay cut in October, going from an annual salary of $61,800 to an hourly rate of $16.87. In February, Porth will be working 20 hours a week, and Kimball will be working 25 hours a week. Strategic Planning Manager Megan Anderson will remain at 15 hours a week.

  • Small business loans: USQ received a $24,999 loan from the EIDL program in November. We are eligible for the second round of funding from the Payroll Protection Plan, and will be applying for that soon. 

More information on USQ’s finances will be available in February, when the second quarter financial statements are released.

QUESTIONS

Teams should contact their regional coordinators with questions. A full list of all the regional coordinators is available on our website here.

For other questions, here’s who to contact: