Quidditch club provides change of pace from traditional sports teams

Quidditch club provides change of pace from traditional sports teams

Quidditch club provides change of pace from traditional sports teams
October 08
01:18 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

Dodgeballs, volleyballs, six circular hoops and broomsticks.

A group of North Texas students has found a way to take these items and create a sport out of them with the help of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

North Texas Quidditch provides students and others around Denton with a chance to play the magic-based game from the Harry Potter books and compete against rival schools, both in Texas and in other states around the country.

“It’s arguably the fastest-growing sport in the country right now, just because it is so new,” team captain Mason Kuzmich said. “It’s really taking off at college campuses all over the place.”

While the rules of quidditch seem complicated in the book, the 7-on-7 game translates seamlessly to the muggle world. Three chasers shoot volleyballs, called quaffels, through one of three opposing hoops, earning 10 points per score. Additionally, they must navigate past the opposing goalkeeper and make sure not to get hit by two enemy beaters, who can knock out opposing players with dodgeballs, called bludgers.

The game ends when a seeker from either team snatches a golden tennis ball from the snitch, and the team with the most points at that time wins. While things are a bit different from the movies, where players fly on broomsticks, participants must hold a broomstick between their legs at all times.

Accounting senior Bryan Perez said games can get extremely physical despite common misconceptions.

“People think it’s a weak sport, but it’s full contact,” Perez said. “Everybody is in really great shape once you get to the tournaments. You can’t be a skinny little nerd out there. You’ll get wrecked.”

Finding himself with a lot of free time in the spring of 2012, Perez and a couple friends decided to gauge interest in forming a quidditch club on campus. Once enough students were on board, Perez took his idea through the student organization board and got quidditch approved as an official North Texas sport club.

“I rounded up two or three friends, and we got a little game going,” Perez said. “We built our own hoops–really bad hoops–out of duct tape. Since then, it hasn’t really taken off, but we have a little more people out here, and we’re competing.”

The team is regulated by U.S. Quidditch and competes in the Southwest region, which includes 26 schools and communities from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. To expand its presence across the country, U.S. Quidditch does not require players to attend their team’s university.

Those rules led North Texas Quidditch to make the switch from a sport club to a student organization in 2014, sacrificing all university funding in the process. The team provides its own equipment and pays for travel and other expenses exclusively out of pocket. The travel team carpools to most events, but they often don’t have as many players as they would prefer during tournaments.

“We wanted to stay open to that, especially with how little members we have right now,” Perez said. “We can’t be turning people away.”

The team is currently preparing for the fourth annual Diamond Cup, a Southwest regional tournament taking place on Nov. 14 in San Marcos that the University of Texas has won three years in a row. In the meantime, North Texas will look to compete in scrimmages with nearby schools after playing a friendly match at Southern Methodist University last weekend.

North Texas Quidditch practices three times per week at the Beer Barn fields off Bonnie Brae Street, going through intensive cardio training and teaching newcomers the basics of the game. As a member with six years of experience, Kuzmich has taken on the role of both a player and a coach this semester to help prepare the team for stiff tournament competition.

“They’re big, they’re athletic. They will knock people around,” Kuzmich said. “You can’t let people go into that blind.”

The club requires no prior knowledge of the game or of the Harry Potter series before coming to practice, leading to a good variety of participants. Whether you’re interested in the rugby and soccer aspects of the game or are just a Harry Potter fan, there’s always an open slot for newcomers, including computer science freshman Anna Mae Goodman.

“We get people who have sports backgrounds, and you have people who have never even seen a Harry Potter movie out here,” Goodman said. “This is one of the best games ever.”

In compliance with Title 9 3/4, a rule administered by U.S. Quidditch to prevent gender discrimination, a maximum of four players per identified gender are allowed to play at once for each team. For Goodman, the rule has allowed her to learn a sport for the first time in her life.

“You may feel silly your first couple practices because of the broom, but it gets to the point where you’re proud if you can run without holding on to it,” Goodman said.

Although North Texas Quidditch has struggled at tournaments since its formation, the club provides an opportunity to learn a unique sport, meet new people and be part of a close-knit community.

“If you want an easy way to have fun, stay in shape and be a part of something new, this is it,” Kuzmich said.

Featured Photo: Ball carrier Morgan Sisk throws the ball to her North Texas teammates. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

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