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Quidditch for UT ‘muggles’

By Victoria Gill
On September 19, 2012

Quidditch is a big sport at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the famous Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, but the magical game is becoming quite popular among college students here in the “muggle” world.

UT students recently established a UT Quidditch team as a club sport.

Alex Scheer, a junior trumpet performance major and Harry Potter fan, had the idea to form a Quidditch team after joking about it with friends at Ohio Northern University.

“The idea never really went through [at ONU],” Scheer said. “But I always kind of wanted to do it.”

When he transferred to UT, Scheer got in contact with an International Quidditch Association, or IQA, representative, filed the paperwork and began marketing the team and recruiting members via Facebook.

According to Scheer, about 20 students are currently members of UT’s Quidditch team.

“You know the old saying, ‘If you build it, they will come?’ I built the Facebook page and they’re coming,” he said.

The team will wear the signature Rocket blue and gold, but they’ll play as the Toledo Firebolts.

Quidditch teams are appearing rapidly throughout the country. In 2005, Quidditch was altered by students at Middlebury College in Vermont to accommodate regular people, and the first real-life Quidditch game was played there on Oct. 9.

Since this landmark in Quidditch history, hundreds of American colleges have started Quidditch teams.

There are now 747 documented Quidditch teams in the United States, according to the IQA.

Not including UT, there are 26 teams in the state of Ohio.

According to the team's Facebook page, a Quidditch match is slated for Sunday, Sept. 30 against Bowling Green.

In the Harry Potter books, players fly on broomsticks and make goals in hoops far above the ground, and to end the game one of the players must catch the snitch, a flying golden ball.

In order for non-wizards to play, some modifications were made to the game.

The game that was once played with magic now requires only a large field, various differently sized balls and hoops, and of course, broomsticks.

The IQA Rulebook describes the sport as a mix between rugby, dodgeball and tag.

IQA Ohio Representative Alexis Moody said each team needs at least seven players: three chasers, two beaters, one keeper and one seeker.

It is the job of the chasers to handle the quaffle, which Moody described as a “slightly deflated volleyball.”

The team scores points by throwing the quaffle through one of three goals.

Scheer said the goals look like “a giant hula hoops attached to poles in the ground.”

Moody said the two beaters handle the bludgers, which are dodgeballs used to hit players on the other team.

“When hit, a player must drop the ball, if they have one, and return to their own hoops before re-entering play,” he said.

Moody described the keepers as goalies who can come out of the keeper zone and attempt to score with the quaffles.

Scheer is the team’s seeker, the position played by Harry Potter in the books.

“That is a very fun and challenging position at the same time,” he said.

The seeker’s objective is to find the snitch. But in non-magical Quidditch, the way to perform this task was changed.

Scheer said the snitch, instead of a golden ball, is now a person. He described the snitch as being “someone very athletic who will run and hide and pull pranks on you.”

The snitch is an unbiased player who carries a tennis ball in a tube sock attached to the waistband of their shorts.

In order to earn 30 points and end the game, the seeker must catch the snitch and remove the tennis ball from the tube sock.

While all of this is happening, a broomstick must remain between the legs of the players.

“We don’t fly, but it’s the next best thing,” Scheer said.

While players running around on broomsticks may look silly to some, many Quidditch players take the competition seriously.

“It seems really, really stupid on the outside, but once you get in the moment and get to playing it, it’s one of the most incredible things you’ll ever do,” Scheer said.

The team’s ultimate goal is to reach the annual Quidditch World Cup, which will be held in Florida this year.

Out of 200 official member teams around the world, only 80 will make it to the world cup.

While Scheer expressed interest in playing competitively and possibly even making it to the Quidditch World Cup, he said that Quidditch isn’t just about competition.

“If you’re not having fun, then I don’t want you on my team,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s competitive, but you got to love it.”

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