Alum overcomes seizure, stroke to win gold at Quidditch World Cup

Trudeau '16 helps U.S. claim 2018 IQA World Cup gold

Three days before one of the most anticipated moments of his life, Tyler Trudeau ‘16 found himself in a hospital bed.

At 2:30 that morning in late June, Trudeau had a stroke and seizure at his girlfriend’s apartment. She rushed him to Massachusetts General Hospital where he received treatment and recovered.

Trudeau planned to travel to Florence, Italy for the 2018 International Quidditch Association World Cup. The IQA World Cup is an international quidditch tournament comprised of teams from any of the IQA’s National Governing Bodies and takes place every two years.

This was Trudeau’s first time earning a spot on the U.S. National Team, and he said he couldn’t imagine not being there.

“I remember coming to the hospital and thinking, ‘There’s no way these doctors are telling me I’m not able to go to Italy—I don’t care what just happened,’” Trudeau said. “My one thought was that I need to get to Italy in three days, so how can I make that happen.”

Trudeau said he was first drawn to the sport when he heard about it touring at Emerson.

“I was always a big fan of the Harry Potter series, so once I heard Emerson had a team when I toured, I was instantly drawn to the concept of playing quidditch for Emerson,” Trudeau said.

In his freshman year, Trudeau played for a local team called Boston Riot. During his sophomore year, he made the Emerson quidditch team and went to the final four of the US Quidditch Cup with them before captaining the team in his junior year and later moving on to play for a local team called Quidditch Club Boston. He now plays in his spare time with the BosNYan Bearsharks.

The sport of quidditch was developed from the sport played in the Harry Potter series. In the real-life adaption of the game, seven players play on a field with a broomstick between their legs and attempt to score points by throwing the quaffle—a volleyball—through three hoops to score points while avoiding bludgers—a dodgeball. The game ends when one team catches the golden snitch.

Trudeau said quidditch gave him the best opportunity to continue playing competitive sports while in college.

“I had played on team sports since basically first grade—playing basketball, baseball, soccer—all different types of sports,” Trudeau said. “I figured [quidditch] would be a great chance to continue to be a competitive athlete.”

Throughout his time at Emerson, Trudeau said his main goal was to play for the U.S. National Team.

“The U.S. team was always a goal of mine. Actually, when I was going into my freshman year, I was very determined to play quidditch,” Trudeau said. “The summer before I even came to Emerson was the first IQA global games and Team USA won gold that year, so my goal before becoming a senior was to make Team USA.”

However, after his stroke and seizure, it appeared unlikely that he would make the trip to Italy. However, Trudeau said his doctor told him that he was clear to travel with the team. Only three days after his health scare, Trudeau traveled to Florence, where he practiced with the team comprised of former Boston teammates, some past opponents, and even his girlfriend, chaser Julia Baer.

At the IQA World Cup, 30 countries including the United States competed over two days for gold. The U.S. National team went 4-0 on the first day of the tournament, after beating Ireland 230-0, Italy 160-20, Australia 90-60, and Brazil 260-0.

In the match between the U.S. National Team and Australia, Trudeau caught the game-winning snitch in the rematch of the 2016 IQA World Cup Final that the U.S. lost.

Trudeau, who plays a keeper, said that after all he had been through, his winning catch was a special moment.

“That was a really emotional moment for me,” Trudeau said. “It was absolutely one of the greatest feelings anyone could have, sharing it not only with the Boston teammates that I have but [also] with my girlfriend because it was our three-year anniversary on that day.”

Trudeau (No.7) caught the snitch in the U.S. National Team’s game against Australia. Photo courtesy of Miguel Esparza/USA Quidditch.

On the second and final day, the U.S. National Team beat Austria 180-60 in the round of 16 and then beat Australia once more in the quarterfinals by a score of 100-30.

They went on to defeat the United Kingdom in the semifinals 160-40, setting up a final match between the U.S. National Team and Belgium that the U.S. won 120-70. This was the second time the U.S. won gold at the IQA World Cup—their first win coming in the inaugural tournament in 2012.

Trudeau said he could barely describe the moment of winning gold at the IQA World Cup.

“I don’t know if it was the fact that I had just had a stroke and seizure a week before that, or if it was the fact that a dream of six years came to fruition, [but it was] just all these different emotions and being able to share it with former teammates and with my girlfriend,” Trudeau said. “My mom was there—family friends were there. There was so much emotion that it really didn’t sink in at once other than, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it’.”

Trudeau said the moments leading up until the officials confirmed the catch were stressful. In quidditch, each snitch catch is reviewed before the game is officially declared over.

“When the game-winning snitch pull was made I remember grabbing my coach’s arm and my teammate next to me and just holding on to them, not able to process what was going on, saying, ‘Did this just happen? Are we going to become gold medalists?’” Trudeau said. “It felt like an eternity. When that final whistle blew, being able to share that moment with teammates, family, and friends meant the world to me, especially after what I had just gone through prior to that.”

When reflecting on his experience in Italy with the U.S. National Team, Trudeau said it was a life-changing experience.

“Being in Italy, seeing this sport unite with 30 different teams from 30 different countries absolutely changed my perspective of the sport even more,” Trudeau said. “I would 100 percent do it all again—strokes, seizures, and all.”

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