An interview with USQ Board Treasurer and former Chief Operating Officer Alicia Radford on the history of QuidCon. Radford is one of QuidCon's original founders from 2012.
This year, USQ is teaming up with MLQ and Quidditch Canada to bring back QuidCon for the first time in seven years. The event is a good networking and learning opportunity for players of all levels, as well as quidditch coaches and volunteers.
Over 150 panelists from around the world will discuss topics in position-specific gameplay, refereeing, strength training, on-field strategies, team culture, marketing, quidditch media, and more. Tickets are pay-what-you-want to help keep the event accessible, and there will be activities from workouts to game nights.
USQ's Alicia Radford is one of the event's original founders from 2012, so the QuidCon 2021 marketing team sat down with her to better understand the past and present of QuidCon, as well as how it fits into quidditch as a whole. Here's what she had to say:
Q: How did QuidCon start and in what ways has QuidCon grown since its inception?
A: Each year around a dozen incredible volunteers made up the planning team for QuidCon, taking on different areas like formal, informal, and outdoor programming, marketing, and logistics. Most of the team stayed constant through the three years, so we were able to build on what we learned. Each year 60-80 people attended from around the US (and Canada and Mexico!).
Q: How did QuidCon work in the past? What kind of content has been produced at previous QuidCons?
A: QuidCon was a weekend-long conference held in Chicago in 2012, Seattle in 2013, and Washington, DC in 2014. Depending on the year, there were 17-30+ sessions on topics including team management, tournament planning, fundraising and marketing, injury prevention, workout fundamentals, referee and snitch training, and more. There were also Q&As with staff about league management and upcoming events. Each year had an indoor and outdoor component, with hands-on workshops outdoors as well as a region vs. region friendly tournament. Community building was also a huge part of the event. We billed QuidCon as a giant slumber party, and the schedule always included a formal dinner and dance. We called it the Sirius Black Tie Ball (it was a different time).
Q: What was the inspiration for creating QuidCon? What did the founders hope to achieve?
A: When I was in high school I was lucky enough to attend a weekend-long leadership development and training conference for band kids, and it really stuck with me as an experience where I learned a lot and also had a ton of fun. I first started dreaming about a similar gathering for quidditch players on the flight home from the first IQA (now USQ) board meeting in summer 2010, a few months after we officially incorporated as a nonprofit. At that point, we were planning for the first "World Cup" tournament outside of Middlebury College, and working to turn our email list of hundreds of people who had started or wanted to start a quidditch team into an actual league. It didn't become feasible to plan or host something as large as QuidCon until a couple years later, though, after the IQA partnered with a company that organized group travel. They negotiated to get package rates for hotel rooms, meeting space, and field rentals. In 2012, many of the first generation of quidditch team leaders and captains were about to graduate from college, and we wanted to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to younger leaders and build relationships and community across teams and regions. It was also the beginning of the professionalization of the referee program. The first referee certification tests happened at QuidCon 2012.
Q: Why was there such a large gap between the last QuidCon and now?
A: In the years since the last QuidCon in summer 2014, USQ has gone through a lot of organizational changes. Alex Benepe (USQ's first CEO) and I (Chief Operating Officer) both transitioned out as employees in 2015, and Donte Quinine and then Sarah Woolsey became the Executive Director. (Fun fact, Sarah was on the planning team for all three QuidCons). QuidCon was time-intensive to produce and expensive to attend, and USQ decided to focus its resources on the core event offerings of regional championships and nationals.
Q: How has the sport evolved since the last QuidCon?
A: Quidditch has evolved so much since 2014! Gameplay is much more sophisticated, and the standards are higher for tournament planning and officiating.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming QuidCon?
A: Memories from planning and attending QuidCon are some of the ones I cherish most from my years in quidditch, so I'm excited to see that it's back! I think the shift to virtual programming is an excellent way to reproduce the spirit of the event while making it accessible to a much larger group of people. It also feels like a similar moment to the inception of QuidCon − after a hiatus of more than a year, there's a real need to pass on knowledge and skills and bring the community together.
Q: What does the future of quidditch look like to you? Do you think the revival of QuidCon will help the sport get to that point?
A: I think quidditch is such an exciting sport to watch. I hope the future of quidditch includes more opportunities for people to watch full games and tournaments, so we can build a broader fan base. I would like to see quidditch become a sport on the level of something like ultimate, with thriving leagues that accommodate multiple divisions/skill levels/competitive goals. I also want to see quidditch continue becoming a sport that lives up to its values by making the sport itself safer and building anti-racist organizations. There is so much content at the upcoming QuidCon that is aimed at all of this, and I'm so excited to listen and learn.
This year, you can find USQ in panels like: