Illinois is the next best thing since Michigan
When most people think of good Midwest teams they think of Michigan. It’s easy to see why this state can be seen as power houses in the Midwest. Michigan has Michigan State, Central Michigan, Michigan Quidditch all three teams are consistent performers in the Midwest. Now, there are other teams from the Midwest that are amazing(Bowling Green, Ball State, and Marquette just to name a few) but Michigan has a high concentration of high performing teams. I often joke that there ‘must be something in the water’ in Michigan to create these teams. But, I have a claim to make the rest of the Midwest better watch out for Illinois and here is why.
I realized this at Rockford a few weekends ago Illinois has the ability to be a quidditch power house. Illinois already as the team density to do this with Loyola, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and Augustana already being official teams and the first four are extremely well established. Now, this is not even mentioning the teams that are in the process of starting up this includes Northwestern Illinois, University of Illinois, and a community team. Now, having teams is not enough to make a state a power house. These teams need to be good. Look no further than Loyola, Illinois, and Southern.
Yes, I included Southern in this list which will surprise many of you. Southern had a rocky road in the start of the year underwhelming the competition. Yet, seeing them last weekend changed my opinion of them 100%. This team is not a team to take lightly. They are very much a terrifying bunch of quidditch player who knows what it takes to win. They will perform next year and underestimating them will cost a team a very hard loss. There is many things this team needs to work on but they are shaping up to be fierce competitors. They are willing to adapt and work hard to get better. They are a team that does not want to lose.
Now, Loyola should be no surprise to anyone. This team is extremely established and only getting better as the years go on. While their playing is not improving drastically it is gradual. They are unlikely to pull a Central Michigan and seemingly come out of nowhere. Loyola will get better and they will perform. They might not win every game but they are a team that will win consistently. Loyola is Illinois anchor of just being a good team and staying a good team. They have not changed vastly in the last few years I have played them.
Illinois State University has all the pieces to perform and be a fantastic team. It’s just knowing how to use these pieces is where ISU falters. With the right amount of ambition and a good captain the Firebirds will succeed. They had an extremely rough year but still made it to World Cup. Most teams would not consider one of their ‘rough years’ making it to world cup. What I’m trying to say as if this is one of the Firebirds worst years in their history the world better look out. Underestimating this team will lead into a straight blow out.
Now, next year Illinois will be adding several teams to their official list. The most notable being Northwestern Illinois. This team is extremely physical, very fast, but very much in their youth. This is Northwestern first year and their improvement is substantial. With only having nine players they performed extremely well at the Rockford tournament They had to play three games back to back after just taking a break from a double overtime game. With more players and refining this team will be competitors.
These teams are the standouts from Illinois and if they continue to develop Illinois will be a state that can dominate. There is no doubt if these teams keep doing what they are doing and play hard world cup bids are within their grasp. While teams from Illinois have under performed all this season don’t underestimate them. It will be a teams worst nightmare.
Correction: Northwestern is not in their first year but this is their first year playing in tournaments.