By April Lynn Newell
Harry Potter fans at the University of the Incarnate Word have found a way to keep the fantasy and adventure of the completed series’ famous novels and films going: Quidditch.
Since October 2005, Quidditch has become a team sport according to the International Quidditch Association website. Many well-known universities around the country have joined the association, along with the International Confederation of Broomstick Athletes, to form a total of 608 teams in America. Currently, America has the most number of teams. Canada is next with 44 registered Quidditch teams.
“I love all things ‘Harry Potter,’and as soon as I found out Quidditch was made real I knew I wanted to play,” said Quidditch team captain Lauren Mlodzianowski, a junior double-majoring in psychology and pre-med.
Renowned universities such as Harvard, New York University, Penn State and Yale have formed teams. Local universities such Texas State, Texas Tech, UT and A&M have also formed teams. By next fall the UIW team will join them in competition.
“I saw that there were a bunch of teams from different schools like UT and A&M and I wanted to start one and the only way to make it happen was to do it myself, so I brought some friends and they brought some people too and we got it started,” Mlodzianowski said. Rules and regulations are mandated by the International Quidditch Association with handbooks and stipulations for each team to abide by. For example, every team must have uniforms with clearly identifiable numbers and there must be male and female players on every team.
The International Confederation of Broomstick Athletes organizes each division and handles registration of each team.
Have no fear, these players have left flying on broomsticks to the films. Instead, each player must run with a broom stick (with or without bristles) between their legs, leaving them to play, most of the time, one-handed.
There can be up to 21 players on a registered team but only seven play at a time: three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and one Seeker.
There is also a Snitch Runner, a player not associated with either team who runs around the whole arena trying not to get caught by the Seeker. The Snitch Runner may climb trees, sit with the audience and a number of other things to avoid being found by the Seeker.
Along with broomsticks the game calls for one volleyball (Quaffle), three dodge balls (Bludgers) and a tennis ball inside a sock (Snitch).
The Snitch Runner tucks the Snitch in his/her waistband and much like in flag football, the Seeker’s job is to grab the tennis ball from the Snitch Runner. If the Snitch is captured, the prevailing team is awarded 30 points and the game ends.
The Chasers’ job is to run the Quaffle ball to their goal, three hoops varying in heights at each end of the field. Each time the Quaffle goes through a hoop, the team is awarded 10 points.
While the Chasers are trying to get the Quaffle, the Beaters have dodge balls, or Bludgers, that they throw at other players. If a player is hit by a Bludger, they must drop whatever ball they have, run with their broomstick at their side and touch their goal with the broomstick before entering back into the game.
The Keeper is much like a goalie in soccer. They guard the hoops trying to block the opposing team from throwing the Quaffle through. Keepers may leave their post at the hoops and run the Quaffle across the field and through their goal or pass the Quaffle to another team member if the opportunity arises.
Various competitions take place throughout the year, the most recent being the Lone Star Cup held in Austin at UT on April 14.
“It was a lot of fun to go out and watch all that Quidditch and see how other teams warm up and play,” Mlodzianowski said. “The final game was UT vs. A&M, with UT winning.”
The UIW Quidditch team has been placed in the Red River Conference-South and anticipates playing schools such as Baylor University, Rice Unversity, TCU, UT and A&M.
UIW Quidditch has already started practicing as a club team in the back soccer fields at various times depending on players’ schedules. If anyone is interested in playing, they are welcome to join, says Mlodzianowski. However, if more than 21 students wish to become part of the team they will hold tryouts before competing next fall. The team will also begin fundraising in the fall to pay for uniforms.
“I hope to create a strong intercollegiate team that is respected in that the other major teams in Texas will see us as competition,” Mlodzianowski said. “I also hope that the team will continue on long after I graduate.”
For more information about UIW Quidditch practices, games and updates, visit the Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/UIW-Quidditch/334271183281692.