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Ohio State students take Quidditch from fantasy to field

Logistically, the Harry Potter series’ magical flying sport does not make sense for Muggles — or nonmagical people — to play. But where there is a will, there is a way.

“When I’m suiting up for a match or practice, there is definitely not ‘Harry Potter’ running through my head,” David Hoops, a four-year member of Ohio State’s Quidditch team, said.

Including OSU’s team, there are more than 300 collegiate Quidditch teams in North America, Australia and Europe under the organization US Quidditch — nonprofit that saw its beginning in 2010.

However, there are a few things about the way US Quidditch collegiate teams operate that don’t directly match the Harry Potter game as it’s described in J.K. Rowling’s books.

There is an extensive rule book, found on US Quidditch’s website, which runs at more than 160 pages long and describes how the sport is played.

The augmented game resembles soccer and basketball in its athleticism: Players run from up and down a grass court attempting to make goals into one of three hoops on either end.

The flying broomsticks and the iconic flying golden snitch and bludgers featured in the fictional version of Quidditch lead to a few discrepancies between the book version of the game and the real-life version.

In place of broomsticks, players hold a large stick between their legs throughout the entire match. This typically forces them to use one hand to hold the broom and one hand to throw and catch the quaffles and bludgers, which are volleyballs and dodgeballs, respectively. If hit by a bludger, the player “falls” of his or her broom and have to run to the goalposts and touch them in order to get back on his or her broom.

“Our stick is like our handicap. It forces you to do everything one-handed,” Hoops, a fourth-year in sport industry, said.

The golden snitch — a tiny ball caught by a “seeker” to win the game in the books — is another innovation in collegiate Quidditch made to adapt the sport from fantasy to field.

“The snitch for us is a referee nonaffiliated with either team. He comes after 20 minutes and has a sock with a tennis ball attached to his shorts. This looks sort of like flag football. He also wears all yellow usually,” Hoops said.

There are designated players called chasers — with at least two of each gender — attempting to score a goal. Another player, called a seeker, is responsible for retrieving the ball from the human snitch for a score worth three goals and to end the game.

Teams that play for US Quidditch are forced to be co-ed, and some schools are now considering this a club sport. However, OSU has not yet recognized it as a club sport, and a $50 player fee is charged by the team.

This fall, about 55 students came to tryouts, and all members were accepted to either the varsity or junior varsity as long as the fee was paid, Hoops said.

Twenty-two members are selected for varsity, and the remaining play on the B-Team, called the “Mighty Bucks.” Many of the varsity players have been playing for most of their collegiate careers and have a strong cohesive team spirit, Hoops expressed.

“Especially from varsity team, we didn’t graduate anyone from last year’s team, and our team advanced to the Elite 8 at World Cup. To my knowledge, no other teams who didn’t graduate anyone accomplished this,” Hoops said.

The team practices four days per week and has conditioning workouts two other days weekly, Hoops said.

This year’s World Cup VIII is set to be held in Rock Hill, S.C.

Hoops said he is confident that OSU will advance to the tournament this season and has strong faith in his team. “Our varsity team has a good shot at running the table and taking the World Cup,” he said.

Matt Eveland, a fourth-year in English who is on OSU’s Quidditch varsity team, also has a positive outlook on the upcoming season.

“These are some of the most talented and dedicated athletes I’ve ever met and I’m really honored I’ve had the chance to lead and play alongside them,” Eveland said.

On Sept. 20 at Fred Beekman Park, the OSU Quidditch team hosted a tournament that included teams from College of Wooster, Ball State, Bowling Green, Ohio University, Miami (Ohio) University and a few other colleges in the Midwest. The varsity team went 4-1 in the tournament with victories over Grand Valley State University, College of Wooster, Ball State and Ohio University.

In a second match with Ball State, the Buckeyes lost 50-40 in the semifinal round of the tournament. Ball State went go on to defeat Bowling Green, 70-40, in the finals and win.

Win or lose, OSU’s team has made an impression on some members of the student body.

“They’re very dedicated. They’re very serious about what they do and I respect them for that. You should always play to win,” said Marisa Licari, a third-year in psychology.

 

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