James King-Nickol Grows Teams Department As The New Executive DirectorExecutive
We're delighted to welcome on-board James King-Nickol who has succeeded Harry Smith as the new Teams Director for QuidditchUK. James has been a regular attendee of Executive Management Team meetings for the last month now and is already getting stuck in by helping all of our current and new & upcoming clubs dive into the new season with all the support they can get.
Most of our athletes may have heard about James' presence on pitch (not to be taken for granted!) for what seems like half a decade, in actual fact he only started playing the sport in 2018! Currently a competitive dodgeball player in his spare time outside playing quidditch, James found us by first beating for Manchester University Quidditch Club and then moving onwards with Olympians Quidditch Club from the beginning of last season to aid the community club towards their first podium finish at Northern Cup 2019, claiming the runners-up silver medal. Rumour has it that James almost skipped out on the first day of this year's European Qualifier Tournament, which saw the Olympians qualify for Division 2 of the European Quidditch Club, now being hosted in 2021. (You could say they were pretty happy he changed his mind!)
Whilst getting fully integrated into the role, James had this to mention to us on the subject of his status as an Executive volunteer.
"Next season's going to be an interesting one. I'm sure the new structure will keep many teams on their toes and make things busy for me, but I'm determined to further establish what resources are available for teams. I'll always be on the lookout for new ideas to develop the sport further and to have clear communication between QUK and clubs through the coming changes. I'm also looking forward to my Olympians teammate James Gratton joining me as working together we can devote more time to progress the sport."
Blending in nicely to the next section of this announcement, James has had the good fortune of recruiting his fellow Olympian, James Gratton, to jump on as the first ever Assistant Teams Director. This is a really exciting moment for QuidditchUK, as the chemistry between both King-Nickol and Gratton is unmatched. You may have seen James' name previously appear credited on our early releases of the QuidditchUK Newsletter, in which Mr Gratton assisted the publishing team by brainstorming different ideas for puzzles to keep readers engaged by introducing a competitive element to complete the games.
Gratton first got involved in quidditch before his superior and fellow teammate, King-Nickol, by playing for Sheffield Quidditch Club in Autumn 2016 just on the off chance of really enjoying going to a one-off 'give it a go' session. James remembers:
"As with most people in the sport, I got super sucked into the sport as I played with Sheffield's debut Northern in 2016. We then went on to come 20th at BQC I believe. Kept on playing through my year in industry and then came back to coach Sheffield in my final year of university."
After graduating from the University of Sheffield, James shared the same journey as mentioned previously by joining Olympians Quidditch Club to continue playing as a Beater, with no intentions to stop anytime soon. Focusing on his role as Assistant Director to the Teams Department, James had this to say:
"I'm excited to be involved in a larger role to help quidditch in the UK, I enjoyed the sport and want to be part of making it just as enjoyable for others. I'm most forward to working on new projects and using my previous blend of university and community experiences to solve the challenges facing quidditch today such as the transition to the uni/community split and providing the needed resources for university teams (especially post COVID-19!)."
Welcome James² to QuidditchUK and thank you both for volunteering to lend your services in growing the department from the ground up! We're wishing both the Olympians all the best of luck throughout their times in their respected roles, and who knows, perhaps they'll be another Olympian who's on their way to follow in their footsteps?
Photo Credit: Simon Blackshaw (The Dislodged Hoop) & Kurt Fairhurst (QuidditchUK)