By Jeremy McDonald
BOISE, ID.– Winning the Northwest Regional’s in Salem, Oregon and being a part of a Boise State University Abraxans team that made a deep run at the US Quidditch Cup 9 would be a great way to end your collegiate Quidditch career.
But, that wasn’t enough for one Stewart ‘Stew’ Driflot.
The recent Bronco-graduate received an once in a lifetime opportunity to play for the United States Quidditch team for World Cup 2016.
For Driflot, there was a feeling of absolute pleasure playing overseas, but there was pressure nonetheless.
“Anywhere we went, people were watching and the target was painted on our backs,” said Driflot. “Hell, even doing dynamic stretching on a day we didn’t even play a game, Nations were watching us.
“We had pressure from home to bring the gold home for the third time. We had pressure on the international stage from literally everybody to lose (for once) and we had our own internal struggle trying to stand out on such a talented roster.”
The journey to that point, was an adventure for Driflot to say the least.
When he came to Boise State as a freshman, he heard rumors of the sport and within a week, he turned that rumor into the school’s first ever Quidditch practice.
Soon enough, Driflot found his passion with the sport that eventually grew to love.
“I hadn’t ever played sports before, but figured I’d be like flag football or something to enjoy in the off-time,” Driflot describe how his passion started. “Only it ended up becoming my only-time. Life became dedicated to Quidditch, everything else was put on the back-burner.
“I found my passion for athleticism and fitness through the advocacy of competitiveness in the sport and from my team once I saw the level that other states were playing at. To finally be at that level where I surpassed even my wildest hopes and being the sixth-best team in the nation, and the second best collegiate team in the world is just pretty cool.”
There was a sense of honor and excitement to represent the Blue and Orange at the highest level of competition as his Boise State University Abraxans won two Northwest Regional Championships since 2012.
But Driflot knows that it wouldn’t be for those around him that help him not just succeed but to bring the school he loved and the sport he grew to love, together on the same field of play.
“To represent Boise State on that level, not on an individual standpoint but as a team standpoint,” said Driflot. “I couldn’t have done anything without them supporting me every step, dunk, and tackle along the way. I was so glad I was able to perform for them because the team deserved nothing but the best, with the effort that they put into the entire year in preparation for the cup.
“Our performance increased tenfold in the span of a year and I’m so glad I was able to witness, and be a part of that. And for Boise State, it was fantastic to be a ‘collegiate athlete’ in some sense of the word. To play for my school, of which I’m now a proud alum, it’s going to remain a fond memory for me until the end of my days. I might have not performed the best in the classroom, but I was a Bronco on the field. “
That hard work and sacrifice was recognized by the powers of US Quidditch when he was selected to join players from all over the United States to compete against the best from all over the world in the World Cup.
“Seeing my name on the call up was a cathartic moment for me,” said Driflot. “Since that freshman year when I discovered the sport the first video I watched was Team USA crushing it. I wanted that glory, I wanted the title and I wanted to relish the opportunity to play with the best. I wasn’t called up going into my Junior year, but I kept working and I got my spot after four years of hardship and improving.”
Driflot told his parents, friends and even his mirror interestingly enough about the accomplishment. Yeah the degree was great, said Driflot, but this was bragging rights that he can carry over the same as the degree.
Now that he fulfilled a dream to go against the World’s best, he was on his way to Frankfurt, Germany to compete in July’s Tournament.
The competition was different described Driflot, but he was impressed by the Australian team and their incredible talent as the Aussies went on to win the World Cup over the USA 150*-130.
“Australia was a freak on the pitch, so talented,” said Driflot. “But the other nations will catch up to us (the states) sooner than I’m sure we’d like.”
The experience was incredible Driflot would add, signing autographs to fans that would boo them while the game was going on.
But overall the experience was memorable as Driflot came back to the States a few days after the World Cup’s conclusion.
“The team had innumerable inside jokes while playing/relaxing, so we were all constantly in fits of laughter,” said Driflot. “It was great being a low-key celebrity for the weekend, even if we did only come home with the silver. Unforgettable.”
Though he didn’t come home with gold, Driflot has big plans for the future. But he’ll sure miss playing with his family at Boise State no matter where, or what, he does in the future.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ve got big plans down the road,” started Driflot. “I’m not sure (that) I’m done playing Quidditch. I can still occupy the snitch runner position for now, which is where it started for me so it’s going to be great to be back now that I’m stronger and faster.
“I’ll miss playing on Boise State in tournaments without a doubt,” Driflot continued. “But it’ll be nice to let others take over the reins and see how they can do on their own. I’ll miss it all, but it’s gonna live with me in memories forever.”