FireMercs Grant Winners Announced

The Long Beach Funky Quaffles, Riverside Quidditch, and the Thundercats were recently announced as winners of the $300 2013 FireMercs Grant.

While most attendees remember the second FireMercs Invitational for the on-pitch play or off-pitch bonding, players for three quidditch programs will also look back on the generosity of its organizers. The Long Beach Funky Quaffles, Riverside Quidditch, and the Thundercats (formerly known as Sierra College) were recently announced as the winners of the 2013 FireMercs Grant,with the $300 award going towards player and team registration.

Dyllan Fernandez, one of the tournament organizers, explained the origins of the financial award: “The idea for the grant sprung up between [co-organizer] Natalie Stottler and myself. We both knew that the tournament would turn a profit this year. We felt that we should use that money to make a difference and give back to the quidditch community, and what better way to do that than helping struggling teams stay afloat.”

The duo initially planned to offer a pair of scholarships; however, a generous contribution from an anonymous donor allowed for three grants to be awarded.
Funding for the project was derived from profits from the first two FireMerc tournaments, with recipient teams needing to have had at least one player at either tournament and to have not received funds from their school for registration.

Fernandez was delighted with the winners. He explained, “Winners of the grant are programs with great potential and drive in the sport which, without the grant, may not have been able to sustain a team.”

The Thundercats, formerly known as Sierra College, was founded in mid-March by Logan Trudell and Max Horn. In their first two months they recruited players, trained, and constructed equipment; they attended their first tournament in May. To expand the pool of possible players, the team plans to reinvent themselves as a community team this season, since they were not receiving much support from their school.

The team plans to use its newfound funds to cover the $150 team registration fee and to support individual players’ membership. Thundercats captain and president Trudell explained that this will allow them to direct more of their fundraising efforts towards jerseys, equipment, and other costs of running a team. “The grant will drastically help our team. When we found out we were awarded it, we were shocked because this will help ease the stress of all of the other fundraising we will have to do,” he stated.

On the pitch, the Thundercats are led by keeper Nebraska Huggins who, after an impressive debut at Stanford, wowed the masses at FireMercs with his combination of size and speed.

Riverside Quidditch is likewise thrilled with the grant. Co-captain Tye Rush noted that having the grant will allow the team to focus more on recruitment: “The FireMercs grant was a huge surprise that’ll go towards membership fees so that Riverside will be able to branch out and really recruit this year so that we can actually have a full roster this season.”

Last year, Head Captain Alyssa Burton was forced to front many of the team’s costs, including uniforms, referees, and hotel expenses for Western Cup. Rush explained that the numerous costs associated with the team scared potential players away, and he now hopes that the team will have more success in recruitment.
Riverside Quidditch was founded by Burton in October of 2012 after years of persuading from high school friend Tom Marks, who founded the UCLA team. Although the team is not affiliated with UC Riverside, a large number of their players attend the school. Burton expressed her gratitude at receiving the financial award: “I am so extremely proud of this team [and] how far we’ve come in under a year, and this grant means more to me than I can even explain. The quidditch community is incredible and I want to thank every single person who helped me put this team together.”


In their short time as a team, Riverside has made major strides on the pitch, concluding last season with a win over their arch-rivals the Santa Barbara Blacktips, a team that qualified for World Cup VI. Rush believes that the future of the squad is bright, remarking, “Every member of the team has shown dedication and hard work, and I’m excited to work with them this season and also branch out and bring in new people.”

The growth of a team in Riverside will also serve the sport in years to come. The city submitted an unsuccessful bid for World Cup VI, and has already expressed interest in bidding for Western Cup VI, which will take place during the 2014-2015 season.

The Long Beach Funky Quaffles, a group founded just four months ago, realize the potential impact of the grant on their team. Captain Justin Madriaga explained, “We applied for the grant to not only make it easier on us to pay for the IQA membership, equipment maintenance, uniforms, and other team essentials, but we wanted to make it easier for us to get better through experience, playing with the best teams in the world.”

The LBFQ attended the Beachside Brawl in Santa Barbara just one month after their founding, and hold three weekly practices. The team formed primarily through word of mouth with very little past experience. Though the team is still young, Madriaga has high hopes for the group: “We definitely hope to win a World Cup [title] and be a force…to be reckoned with on the pitch, but most importantly, I just hope that anyone who plays with us would be able to give the same hard work and dedication the team we have now has given so far, and, of course, [will] have fun.”