The Eighth Man

Daniel Daugherty: 2012 Sportsman of the Year

Credit: Tim Adkins

For his contributions to the sport as a player, referee and snitch, Daniel Daugherty is our 2012 Sportsman of the Year. Credit: Tim Adkins

With the year coming to a close, the staff of The Eighth Man is pleased to announce the winners of our award for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year. Candidates were nominated by our staff, and then voted on. No criteria for the awards were given, the voters were free to define it however they chose to.

 

The end of 2011 was a difficult time for Bowling Green State University quidditch. After crashing out of World Cup V with a 0-4 record in what would only later become known as one of the toughest pools in Cup history, it would have been easy for the team to quit on itself.  For Daniel Daugherty, the team’s most talented player, it would have been an easy out, a chance to give up against overwhelming odds.

 

Instead, Daugherty threw himself into the sport. He ran for an assistant captaincy on the team this past spring and won the spot in an almost unanimous decision. He put incredible efforts into making himself better, going as far as to travel eight hours by car with other members of his team to attend the Mid-Atlantic Fantasy tournament over the summer. He became a respected referee, and a feared snitch.

 

“Dan has never been one to get super down when we lose,” Bowling Green captain Katie Milligan said. “He knew that we were capable of so much more than we showed at World Cup last year, and he would only let something like that motivate him to play harder. More importantly though, losses like that push him to motivate the rest of the team to continue improving and playing harder. He can take a loss like the ones at WC and use it as motivation for everyone, in order to prove to the quidditch world how much his team can do.”

 

And, this November, all of it paid off. In Bowling Green’s first elite-level tournament since that World Cup disappointment, the squad made a Cinderella run to the Midwest Regional finals, beating historically storied teams like Michigan State and Kansas along the way. In one year, Daugherty helped turn his team into a regional powerhouse, and became one of the most talented players in the nation. For all of these reason and more, he has earned the title of The Eighth Man’s Sportsman of the Year for 2012.

 

Daugherty began playing the sport at Bowling Green back in the spring of 2011 during his freshman year. He is one of the few remaining members of the squad that has been around since its first year of existence. While he has served as a leader both on and off the pitch for the team for quite some time, he only first became an official assistant captain at the end of the spring of 2012.

 

“He is probably the greatest assistant captain out there,” Milligan said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do half as well without him. He really does inspire me to be a better captain and a better player.”

 

I had the opportunity to play with Daugherty at the Mid-Atlantic Fantasy tournament, and came away impressed by his ability to lead by example. When you are on a pitch with him, you can see the effort and will he is putting into every last play, and it makes you want to play better. He doesn’t have to say anything, and when he does, it is simply an added bonus. When watching him, you get the sense that he’d never come out of a game if he didn’t have to. He also seems to have more in the tank, even while snitching or refereeing between rounds of a tournament.

Daugherty and teammates traveled nearly eight hours to the Mid-Atlantic Fantasy tournament, where he found himself consistently facing off with Maryland's Harry Greenhouse in all facets of the game. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

Daugherty and teammates traveled nearly eight hours to the Mid-Atlantic Fantasy tournament, where he found himself consistently facing off with Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse in all facets of the game. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

“What impresses me about Dan’s play, and really his character in general, is his complete inability to give up,” Milligan said. “He will never take himself out of the game if I don’t make him and no matter what he will continue pushing himself harder throughout the game.”

 

In the world of quidditch, a lot of a player’s reputation is somewhat unfairly defined by how much and how far they are traveling in order to get to know more people. And few people travel better than Daugherty, and to a greater extent the core group of Bowling Green’s squad. Besides the trip to College Park for the fantasy tournament, which he made with Milligan, co-assistant captain Samantha Elgin, Chad Brown and Alexis Moody, he also trekked from Ohio to Chicago for the first annual Quidcon. At the convention, he helped lead the Midwest team to the finals of the friendly tournament and became a certified snitch as well as a certified referee under the tutelage of Referee Development Team Project Manager Andrew Canto.

 

“Daniel was one of the very first certified referees this year,” Canto said. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching him develop as a referee since meeting him at QuidCon.  Not only does he know the rules, but his command and communication on the field is second to none.”

 

As the fall approached, his love of the game kept Daugherty from slowing down his quidditch travel when the summer months came to an end. In November, just a week after the Midwest Regional Championship, he drove to Newport, R.I. with Milligan, Moody and Michigan State and Team USA star Lawrence Lazewski to referee and snitch at the Northeast’s premier tournament.

 

“We really like traveling for quidditch, Dan especially,” Milligan said. “He does whatever he can to get more involved within the quidditch world. We drove 13 hours to Rhode Island to ref for the Northeast Regional Championship, and a large part of that was to see some of our friends we had met at Quidcon over the summer. Dan is constantly checking up on what’s happening in the community. And it’s not just about the Midwest for him.”

 

At the tournament, he earned widespread respect for both his refereeing and snitching, despite being placed on the cold, windy field outside of the fort for almost the entirety of Saturday. Daugherty’s performance stood out to Canto, who assigned him to perhaps the tournament’s most high-stakes match on Sunday, a late afternoon bout between the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Syracuse University that decided the region’s final World Cup berth.

Just a week after Midwest Regionals, Daugherty traveled 13 hours to Northeast Regionals to referee and snitch. Credit: Evan Adkins

Just a week after Midwest Regionals, Daugherty traveled 13 hours to Northeast Regionals to referee and snitch. Credit: Evan Adkins

“I assigned him the most important matches because of his consistently positive reviews,” Canto said. “The players knew that the rules would be followed, and that they would feel safe on the pitch.  When Daniel was assigned to a pitch, it was his pitch.  He has amazing control on the field.”

 

That control was definitely put to the test in the game between UMass and Syracuse. After an early injury, the captains of both teams began discussing stopping the game due to fatigue. With the game absolutely necessary in order to determine who would make the World Cup, Daugherty was stuck in a difficult situation that fell outside of the scope of a referee’s typical responsibilities. But he rose to the task, mediating a solution and getting the team’s back out on the pitch to finish their match in a timely fashion.

 

While all of this speaks to his presence and importance off the pitch and in the community, it also undermines just how talented of a player Daugherty is. A chaser from the time he started playing the sport, he has taken complete ownership of the position, defining it the way he sees best. While he seems to have hit his stride this year, his performance during the 2011-2012 season was still good enough to earn him a selection as a Team USA reserve,  one of just seven players from the Midwest named to the squad.

 

Daugherty is a multifaceted offensive player. He is comfortable both driving on a team, usually preferring agility to raw power to beat a defender, or running an offense with accurate passing and swift movement off the ball. The offense of any team he is on will tend to naturally run around him.

 

“His most impressive trait is his incredible accuracy from distance, both in shooting and passing, but he also never hesitates to drive the ball inside when he can, and he can against almost anyone,” said Ohio State University captain Luke Changet, who has had the chance to referee for and play against Daugherty many times. “Defensively, he’s a phenomenal lockdown defender, and is never afraid to give a hit. He always has his eye on the ball and he’s a great athlete, able to get to a lot of passes and break them up. He trusts his teammates completely, and is every bit as dangerous a distributor as he is scorer.”

 

While he may not be the best in the game, he is certainly in the top tier of point defenders in the game today. Watching him and University of Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse go at each other during the Mid-Atlantic Fantasy tournament was one of the most intriguing, exhilarating moments I’ve seen at an unofficial tournament. He may not look like the biggest player, but he gets every last bit of strength out of his body.

 

All of those skills were put to the test during the team’s run to the Midwest regional final, and Daugherty responded again and again, whether his team needed him as a defensive stopper or an offensive playmaker.

Daugherty attempts to dodge a bludger in a key Midwest Regional pool play match against the University of Kansas. Bowling Green won, 90*-70. Credit: Allie Tyler

Daugherty attempts to dodge a bludger in a key Midwest Regional pool play match against the University of Kansas. Bowling Green won, 90*-70. Credit: Allie Tyler

“Anyone who was at Regionals saw how our team played,” Milligan said. “Dan was and always is incredibly important to our team. He is an exceptional player and an inspiring leader. He played our game, worked with his teammates, and led the team on pitch and off. He led with scoring and did what needed to be done no matter who the opponent was.”

 

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Daugherty is that the sky seems to be the limit in terms of his ability. He has plenty of room to grow physically if he so chooses, and because his game is not dependent on power, he is evolving as a player with each and every game. With the work ethic he has displayed so far in his quidditch career so far, you can bet he will find every last bit of that potential before his time in the sport is up.

 

“Dan is incredibly motivated in everything he does, on and off the pitch,” Milligan said. “He is constantly doing whatever he can to improve himself and the team. He is never happy with where he is and will never stop trying to be better. I don’t know anyone that works as hard as he does. He inspires me to be a better captain and a better player. And he inspires our team to play harder, continue to improve, and never stop believing in what we can accomplish.”

 

On Jan. 13, Daugherty and Bowling Green has the opportunity to play in the first-ever televised quidditch match against the University of Toledo, a step towards the future of the sport. Maybe it is fitting that Daugherty was a part of that game, because as one of the sport’s brightest fresh faces, he will undoubtedly be an essential part of that future.

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