By Elizabeth Barcelos
(Editor’s note: What follows is an op-ed and does not reflect the collective opinion of everyone at FBI blah blah blah, etc., etc.)
I’m going to let you guys in on a not-very-secret secret: I love the Argonauts, but I hate their name. Why? Because I’m a big California history nerd. So while I’m aware that the miners who came for the California Gold Rush were known by that nickname, I also know that the Argonaut Gold Mine was the the site of the biggest disaster in California mining history. The last thing I ever wanted was for this team to be a disaster; after all, many Argonaut players spent the USQ 2015-16 season playing in the NorCal Quidditch Conference (NCQC), AKA my labor of love.
If you’re looking for shade, you’re not going to find it here. I’m just a Quidditch Mom™ with reasons (excuses?) as to why this team didn’t perform as well as I think they could have last weekend in the series against Los Angeles.
I had hoped the Argonauts would be an NCQC All-Star team of sorts. I wanted to see us prove that we could beat a Salt Lake City team with great chemistry and hang with SoCal (though like most MLQ observers, I did expect LA to win the series). Neither of these things happened, and I think it’s because this team has turned out too much like the crew of the original Argo from Greek mythology: they’ve got too many heroes and not enough cohesion.
The San Francisco Argonauts draw from more regular season USQ teams than any other MLQ team: the California Dobbys, Fighting Farmers of America, LA Gambits, NYU Nundu, Rochester Thestrals, Silicon Valley Skrewts, Silicon Valley Vipers, SJSU Spartans, Skyfighters Quidditch Club, South Bay Blazers, Stanford Quidditch, Stony Brook Quidditch, Tufts Tufflepuffs, McGill University, and USC Quidditch. The list is endless.
Not only is that a ton of teams, that’s also a wide variety of regions: both parts of California, Northeast, and Eastern Canada. If the Argonauts was just an NCQC All-Star team (which would have been to the team’s detriment because the players who live out-of-town during the USQ have been great!), at least these players would have been accustomed to one another’s playing styles. In the alternate universe where I’m not a total scrub and I make that roster, I’d be thrilled to be paired with Miles or Saltzman because I know their style. (I’d still be thrilled to be paired with either of them in the coming USQ season; hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge – David come join the Skrewts please!) Learning a new partner’s style from scratch would have made my alternate self’s life harder.
This season, this motley crew of heroes has needed an extraordinary hero to bring them together. But here’s the thing: even Jason from Greek mythology wasn’t extraordinary enough to lead his extraordinary crew. Sure, he got the fleece and the girl, but it didn’t end well for him. (Go read the classics if you don’t believe me, you damn heathens.) This is probably going to get me into trouble, but I don’t know if there is a coach in Northern California who would have been up to that task. The Argonauts lost one, along with some players, after their Salt Lake series, just as some of the Argonaut heroes got lost on their way to Colchis and the Golden Fleece. That must have been demoralizing, but luckily the San Francisco Argonauts had their Phoenix series to rally and get their confidence back.
The Argonauts, especially in their Guardians series, were definitely not the Skrewts 2.0, so lol to this Quidsecret. (Though lol to all Quidsecrets, amirite? Have the courage to stand by your convictions.) Here’s the thing: if the Argonauts had played that frustrating brand of slowball that the Skrewts love and that drove me nuts as someone who played against them for three years, they might have stolen a game from the Guardians after all. In their two close games against the Hive, they did play slowball, and it worked. They were just on the losing end of the snitch grab. This time around, Tony Rodriguez had too many chances to do his Tony Rodriguez thing and get buckets.
And so: like the Argonauts of Greek mythology, the San Francisco Argonauts drew heroes from far and wide to chase after the Golden Fleece/Benepe Cup. They needed a clear vision and solid coaching from day one to put those pieces together. That didn’t happen. They had the potential to be better than their record but didn’t live up to it. Let’s hope that they take the time leading up to the championship to put things together because I still think they can get it together and surprise people in League City.
Do it for NorCal’s Quidditch Mom, you guys. I believe in you.