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Laugh all you want—Quidditch has arrived.
As a late-spring evening turns to dusk, UT’s Caven Lacrosse and Sports Center at Clark Field bustles with activity. Two men jog together on the track; another pair tosses a Frisbee. And in another corner, about 15 students are chasing and tackling each other astride broomsticks. Enter Texas Quidditch.
This wizard’s game has leapt from the pages of Harry Potter to sports fields at colleges around the country. At UT, roughly 100 Longhorns are members of Texas Quidditch, an official club sport that fields six teams. And in April, the varsity team became global champions when it trounced UCLA 190-80 at the sixth-annual Quidditch World Cup in Kissimmee, Fla.
Despite the team’s stellar record, its sport still faces skepticism. “When someone says Quidditch is a bunch of nerds, I tell them to come out and play, and they change their minds pretty quick,” says player Shelby Manford. “It’s a full-contact sport, like a more intense version of dodgeball, rugby, and soccer all mixed together.”
Founded in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont, Quidditch had spread westward to UT by 2009, when it began as a small club. It’s been steadily growing since, and now interest is strong enough that UT hosts teams not just for all of the four Hogwarts houses, but also two traveling teams.
The basics: each coed team has seven players. There’s the keeper, who guards the three hoops that serve as goals; three chasers, who try to score with the quaffle (also known as a volleyball); two beaters, who hit other players with bludgers (or dodgeballs); and one seeker, who tries to catch the snitch. The snitch is a neutral figure who wears all yellow and has a tennis ball in a sock hanging out of his or her shorts, much like a flag in flag football. When a player grabs that sock, the game ends. Everyone must hold a broomstick between their legs at all times.
Confused yet? Watching a match is even more challenging. “It can be hard to follow because there are so many battles going on at one time,” says Caitlin Amthor, the club’s publicity chair. “But that’s also what makes it so fun. There’s a lot of strategy, a lot of athleticism. We’ve had concussions and torn ACLs.”
With this spring’s World Cup win, Quidditch’s campus reputation may be on the rise. No fewer than three strangers shouted out cheerful congratulations as they passed by a recent Ravenclaw practice. And on May 6, the Tower glowed orange in the team’s honor.
See more photos of Texas Quidditch here.
Top, from left: Evan Carr, Sarah Holub, Cody Tadlock, Aryan Ghoddossy, Augustine Monroe, Ryan Davis, Christopher Morris, Shelby Manford, Simon Arends, Kody Marshall, and Jacob Adlis. Photo by Sarah Lim.
Bottom, UT’s varsity Quidditch team competes for the 2013 World Cup. Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff.