Quidditch: A Sport for Muggles & Wizards to Unite

Text, Photos and Video by Samantha medney

Yes We Use Brooms. No We Don’t Fly…Yet.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Quidditch is a real-life sport. You can thank J.K. Rowling for her incredible imagination for coming up with the magical sport in her fiction novel. Her initials might be “JK,” but this is no April Fools joke.

The International Quidditch Association, yes, there is an International Quidditch Association, consists of teams from more than 300 universities, high schools, and communities. The sport was adapted in 2005 at Middlebury College by Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel.

Let’s go through some of the Quidditch basics. There are three chasers, two beaters, one keeper and one seeker on each team. The chasers and keepers use a quaffle - a deflated volleyball - to score in one of three hoops. Scoring earns 10 points. “Ten points to Gryffindor!”

Beaters throw bludgers - kickballs - at one another, as well as any other player on the pitch. If you are hit by a bludger you must return to your hoops because it represents getting knocked off your broom.

Seekers go after the golden snitch, a tennis ball in a sock attached to the snitch-runner’s shorts. The snitch runner is dressed in full gold and does everything in their power not to get caught, which is quite an entertaining sight to see. They don’t have rules. When they ultimately do get caught, the team that catches the snitch receives 30 points and the game is over (or goes into overtime if the score is tied).

Catching the golden snitch is critical for success. While a team can win with the other team catching the snitch, it is very difficult. The game cannot end without the snitch getting caught, so a significant amount of the beater's energy goes into protecting their seekers when the snitch is on the pitch.

The International Quidditch Community: Quidditch Summer Games

Over the years, Quidditch has formed an international community. The first ever Quidditch Summer Games were hosted in Oxford as the Olympic torch went through the city en route to the 2012 London Olympics. Countries represented at these games were: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Australia. The USA won Gold, France took Silver, and Australia came away with Bronze.

The teams bonded and the Quidditch Summer Games - also refered to as the 'Global Games' - creating friendships within the teams, and across nations. Team USA and Texas Quidditch member Augustine Monroe reflects on his experience in Oxford.

"Global Games was an experience that I could not have predicted," Monroe said. "I flew into the UK with unclear expectations and only knowing a handful of the team. After five days with the diverse group that had been assembled, I didn't want to leave. I felt like I had developed another family in a matter of days."

Below is a highlights reel from the Quidditch Summer Games, featuring Maryland alum, James Michael Hicks.

Video Edited by: Samantha Medney

Filmed by: Samantha Medney, Robert Newey, Eric Sawyer, Dave Beverley, Kyrie Timbrook, Bernard Scott Taylor, and Tania Levy Medney

Background Music: "Our Time Now" by Plain White T's

Maryland Quidditch Reaches Sweet 16

The quaffle flew over Chris Thomas’ head as he was running towards the right hoop. The closest Texas beater was on the verge of beating him when he flicked the deflated volleyball behind his back, over Matt Paesch’s head, and into the airborne Steven Sleasman’s hands, who two-hand slammed it through the smallest hoop.

It was instantly the goal of the tournament. 16th seed Maryland was playing Texas, the defending champions, in the Sweet 16. The Terrapins went into World Cup VII ranked 6th, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions, but after going 3-1 in pool play, fell to the middle of the bracket.

Their side of the bracket was harsh. Texas, Texas A&M, Lone Star, and Baylor all on one side. Each match up could have been the championship game and people wouldn’t have complained. Instead, each stage was met with a crowd of eager Quidditch players and supporters.

What people didn’t anticipate was that Maryland would be Texas’ most competitive game.

The Terrapins stayed even with the Longhorns throughout the match. They played up to their opponents and didn’t falter when the Longhorns tried to plow through them. Keepers Paesch and Josh Marks put up big hits near their hoops.

Beater Emily Camardo went to the hospital for a concussion after a run over near her own hoops. After being examined and having her x-rays reviewed, she was able to return the World Cup in time to watch the championship game.

Their Sweet 16 matchup would be decided by a Snitch catch as the Longhorns beat the Terrapins: 90-50.

Maryland proved to be the Mid-Atlantic’s last hopes, and the region was in attendance to support the Terrapins. While the red, white, black, gold were not victorious in their battle with the orange and white, the team kept their chins up. They showed the Quidditch community they were more than a group of students wearing ridiculous jerseys. They were a Quidditch team to respect and one that will not go down easy.

Texas Takes WCVII -- Back to Back World Champions

Once Texas caught the Snitch and advanced into the Elite Eight, Maryland knew what to do: hook ‘em. If they weren’t going to be the World Champions in North Myrtle Beach, they were going to have lost to them.

When Texas played Texas St. in the championship, the Terrapins were raising their right hands high with their pointer finger and pinky up and the other three fingers connected in the middle.

Following a close opening few minutes of the finals, the Longhorns pulled away to win 130-70.

"We knew in our hearts that anything less than 1st was unacceptable and played with that in mind," said Monroe. "We finished the tournament the way we talked about ending it: 1st place with complete dominance."

On April 6th, The University of Texas at Austin became the second team to not only win a Quidditch World Cup, but also to become 2 time world champions. Texas beat UCLA 190-80 in Quidditch World Cup VI.

"Winning Cup VII was the greatest accomplishment that I have ever been a part of," Monroe said. "At the end of it all, it was all too surreal. History had repeated itself in many ways. Winning back to back titles for my school is one of the greatest things TXQ can ever claim to. To play for the family alongside myself for The University of Texas is a rare, beautiful opportunity that I will miss when I am old and raggedy."

Middlebury College, the founders of “Muggle Quidditch” in 2005 won the first five Quidditch World Cups.

As of 2014, there have only been two Quidditch World Cup Champions. 2015 will show if a new champion can rise.

The Quidditch Community

Quidditch has a family element to the community. “The culture of the team is that of a welcoming community – the team is a family on and off the field, and the close-knit nature of the group is inviting to veterans and newcomers alike,” World Cup VII tournament director, and former Maryland president, Sarah Woolsey said. “It was great being able to help lead and organize the team and tournaments we hosted. Having graduated, it’s incredible to look back to see where the team is now.”

The community revolving around J.K. Rowling’s magical sport enjoys taking themselves seriously on the pitch, but are extremely friendly off the pitch. They love to make Quidditch puns including: the Quid-Atlantic and Kidditch.

While a significant amount of the pun-based names have left the community - the Mid-Atlantic has happily returned to their proper name - Kidditch has regained constant. Kidditch is Quidditch for kids. IQA players and volunteers teach young Harry Potter fans at tournaments how to play and what the sport is all about.

Keeping with the Harry Potter theme, vendors will often sell Butterbeer and bands will perform themed music. The most notable example of this are Harry and the Potters, who are regulars at the Quidditch World Cup. Harry and the Potters Quidditch is an extremely open community and they are always looking for new members to join.