SQT: Journey to the Cup
This series started in October of last year when the Slytherin Quidditch Team posed for a photograph donning their new two-striped uniforms. It is only fitting that it would end with another team picture. This time, there are no cold looks of determination – the kind of determination that earned SQT their third straight Quidditch Cup. Instead, each member of the team is grinning from ear to ear.
Instead of a Quaffle in hand, Captain Rosemarie Halliwell is instead hoisting the team's beloved trophy high into the air with both arms. The rest of the team is crowding around her, each player gripping onto the Cup as if they might never see it again.
“I'm happy that, thanks to the work of the entire team, I got the chance to hoist the cup again and return it to its case in the Dungeons where I can look at it and shine it whenever I want,” says Halliwell.
Holding the Quaffle now is the team's Keeper, Cody Lewis. Lewis did not spend quite as much time with the Quaffle as he did in previous years, but he still feels a certain attachment to it after blocking all but fourteen goal attempts against him this season. The look on his face does not share quite the same level of jubilation as his teammates; his smile is one of satisfaction.
“This year went exactly as I expected,” says Lewis, who then gestures to the rest of his team. “All of my teammates are champions. They're warriors. I wanted to sit back and relax this year, maybe block some goals here and there, but mostly let the rest of them take care of business. And they all stepped up their game and rose to the occasion.”
Nobody stepped up their game more than Will Lestrange, the team's leader in goals this year. His right hand is wrapped around one of the Quidditch Cup's handles, but in his left hand, he holds another trophy: The Chosen One Award, which is given to SQT's most outstanding player at the end of each season. Lestrange is the only back-to-back winner of the award in team history.
“I had high hopes going into the season until one day, two months before the opening game, my broom snapped,” explains Lestrange. “While it was in the shop, I had to use a makeshift broom – and used the opportunity to change my practice routine dramatically. By the time my broom returned from the shop in time for that first game, I was ready.”
Lestrange's preparation showed in Slytherin's final match against Ravenclaw as he paved the way to victory to the tune of fifteen goals.
But it was never a one-man effort. Each SQT member earned their spot on their team. They earned their victories and in the process, they earned their stripes as well. As a result, the team was rewarded with brand new uniforms emblazoned with three silver stripes – a representation of the team's Quidditch Cup victories.
The Slytherin Quidditch Team has reached its destination. They can once again call themselves champions. But it's already right back to the drawing board, back to the practice pitch, back to working hard towards their goals. The Journey to the Cup has ended, but the next one has already begun.
It is three o'clock in the morning when the members of the Slytherin Quidditch Team are awoken by their captain, Rosemarie Halliwell. With no matches to play in February, the team has been coasting through practices and resting themselves for the final stretch – three more matches and possibly a third consecutive Quidditch Cup.
Once on the Quidditch pitch, the team mounts their brooms. Halliwell is the first in the air, Quaffle in hand, followed by co-captain Cody Lewis, then the rest of the team. But this is no scrimmage. There will be no passing drills or Keeper practice today. Instead, the team flies straight out of the pitch, then continues past Hogsmeade.
Then, Halliwell blindly tosses the Quaffle behind her. In the back of the line, Scarlet Leslie-Lewis is the one who catches it. She flies full speed to the beginning of the line, then tosses the Quaffle behind her to Darcey Goode, who does the same. This is what the Slytherin team calls popcorn flying. Usually, the team does this in laps around the Quidditch pitch. Today, they are doing it in a bee-line over rolling hills to an unknown location.
“Popcorn flying helped pass the time,” says Leslie-Lewis of the experience. “We cheered each other on and could enjoy the scenery below when it wasn't our turn to sprint.”
It is not until dawn that the team finally sets foot on solid ground again. Upon landing, Halliwell gathers her team under a tree with dozens of Quaffles stuck in its branches. Here, she finally reveals their destination in a short, lyrical speech:
When I was a young girl, my father took me into the city to see a Quidditch team. He said, "Rosemarie, when you grow up you'll be the Slytherin Quidditch Team Captain." Then he said, "Rosemarie. Don't go chasing waterfalls." ...Actually, my father kind of went in and out with how much sense that he said made. But either way, that moment directly led us here to this one.
Here we are today at Queerditch Marsh. Where it all started. The very beginnings of Quidditch. Back to the start. Ya know, this team has seen fire and it's seen rain. It's seen sunny days that we thought would never end. I want to start by saying that today has been great; home is wherever I'm with you, team.
So far, today has been about team bonding. For the rest of the season, our plan is to win. I don't want no scrubs. We're all in this together and we have to get our heads in the game. We started disgustingly early this morning, which I'm sure was hard for everyone except for Cody and me, AKA everyone with normal sleep schedules. But life is hard.
So um, to conclude... Just remember that there ain't no mountain high enough... Ain't no river wide enough... Ain't no valley low enough... Uh, to stop us from winning this Quidditch Cup. Good job, guys. Go team.
At the conclusion of her speech, Halliwell tosses the Quaffle into the tree – the tree that had first been used as a goal during the origins of Quidditch. The journey to Queerditch Marsh served as a test of stamina, but this is much more than a training exhibition.
“We felt this was a good bonding opportunity. It really brought the team together,” Lewis explains. But more importantly, it sent a message. “Even during our break, SQT is going to be working hard.”
Because that is what it takes to be a champion.
“SQT on three! One! Two! Three!”
The Slytherin Quidditch Team proudly shouts their team name in response. This is how SQT usually announces the end of practice. But there is still plenty of daylight on this chilly afternoon in December. The Quaffle has already been put away, but Scarlet Leslie-Lewis throws a different ball into the air: The Golden Snitch.
The team scrambles onto their broomsticks and take off after it. Moments later, Will Lestrange lands on the turf of the Quidditch pitch, his broom in one hand and the Snitch in the other.
This is how the team selects its Seeker for each game. And so far, it has been working.
A skillful catch against Sirius Fudge in Slytherin’s victory over Hufflepuff is more than enough proof that Lestrange is one of the best fliers in the game. Being able to outmaneuver an entire team of gifted fliers to secure the Snitch? That is just a typical SQT Seeking practice.
Lestrange, however, is unimpressed with his own performance. He does not celebrate his triumph against his teammates, nor the one against Hufflepuff. Instead, he goes straight into analyzing his play.
“[Lestrange] is always looking for ways to improve his game,” says teammate Cody Lewis. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him satisfied with a win. Holding himself to that kind of standard is what puts him in the top tier of Quidditch players.”
Darcey Goode is the next person to land. She was hot on Lestrange’s heels the entire time. After a game-ending catch against Ravenclaw this past November, Goode has established herself as a talented Seeker in her own right.
Going into the season, Seeker was a huge question mark for SQT. Now, it seems the team has several options going forward. But how did so much change in so little time?
A lot of credit goes to Scarlet Leslie-Lewis, who has become something resembling a Seeking coach for the team, working closely with the Seekers and giving them plenty of practice. In the week leading up to the Ravenclaw match, she set up four practice matches for Goode, a relatively inexperienced Seeker. There were no doubts about Goode’s ability on a broomstick, but there were definitely some growing pains during practice.
“I learned by making mistakes in all of them,” explains Goode. “And I made sure not to make them again.”
Slytherin seems to have found not one, but two answers for their Seeker dilemma. Now the real challenge for SQT is balancing their talent between Quaffle and Snitch. Despite being the two frontrunners in the Snitch game, Goode and Lestrange are also two of the team’s most prolific goal-scorers this season.
“I can’t wait to see them chase together,” says Lewis. “They’re going to give Keepers nightmares. We’ll just have to find a third option at Seeker.”
Darcey stifles a grin. “Now that sounds like fun.”
Before taking the pitch for their first practice of the school year, the Slytherin Quidditch Team posed together for a team photograph. Beater bats in hand, a single Quaffle held by the team's Captain, the photograph was not unlike the ones taken in previous years. Sure, there were a couple new faces, but the biggest difference was the team's new uniforms – a dark greyish green with white numbers over two silver stripes representing Slytherin's back-to-back Quidditch Cup victories.
The 2014-15 Quidditch season was no piece of cake. The team faced adversity from game one when they were defeated by the formidable Ravenclaw Quidditch Team. Slytherin rallied with six straight wins, including a tie-breaker against Ravenclaw to clinch their second straight Quidditch Cup.
In spite of their success in recent years, Slytherin enters the Quidditch season with a new sense of humility. With only three starters from last year's tie-breaker returning – Rosemarie “Bagel” Halliwell, Cody Lewis, and Will Lestrange – the team will rely on new talent to fill in the holes.
First year Hope Stark had a solid tryout during the off-season and looks to be a promising prospect as a defensive Beater or a second or third option at Chaser.
Three former players also rejoined the team after impressive tryouts. Allyson Celestra and Rosalie Mason are back on the pitch for the first time since 2013 and Darcey Goode, who made appearances for Slytherin from to 2002 to 2010, has already proven she can still fly with the best of them. “I'm really excited about [Darcey's] return to the team,” says team captain Rosemarie Halliwell. “I definitely think she's going to be a huge asset to us this coming season and I expect a lot of great plays from her.”
The Slytherin Quidditch Team lineup this year gives SQT supporters a lot to be excited about, but there are still a few question marks. Who is going to play Seeker? The entire lineup combined has only caught one Snitch. Will they be able to find and train a new Seeker before November? Or perhaps their next Snitch-hunter is already on the lineup?
“I could do it,” says Cody Lewis, HOL's leader in goals the past two years. “It's pretty common to see Chasers switch to Seeker nowadays.”
“Cody is definitely not going to be our new permanent Seeker,” says Halliwell, although the use of the word permanent implies that Lewis could be a temporary solution. Regarding the Seeker situation, she adds, “I'm not at all worried. I'm sure we'll get a Seeker where he or she needs to be before our first match.”
Regardless of who is Seeking, you can always rely on Halliwell to have her team ready for the season.
“[Our goal] for this year is to win the Quidditch Cup again, of course, because I'm getting really used to having it in the Dungeons.” And along with it, another silver stripe for the SQT uniforms.