Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

Capes optional

SU's unofficial Quidditch team gives students something to talk about

You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy playing Quidditch. At least, that’s what Syracuse University students say about the sport sweeping the nation. Originally started as a human adaptation of the fictional wizard sport in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, Quidditch has become a fast-growing sport at colleges throughout the country.

At SU, both Potter groupies and newbies alike are welcome to join the unofficial team, which plays at the field near the Women's Building every Sunday.Those expecting magic wands and flying broomsticks might be surprised. 

Photo: Kelsey Scram
A Chaser attempts to avoid being hit by the Bludger.

Freshman Kaytie Norman is a huge Harry Potter fan, so when she saw the flyer for S.U. Quidditch posted around campus, she had to check it out. However, despite her enthusiasm, she wasn't quite sure what to expect of her favorite fictional sport. Her first impression lived up to expectations.

"They were setting up, you know, the hoops they throw the balls through and it was all really surreal. And we were like, 'Wow! I can't believe this is actually happening.'" says Norman. 

Intercollegiate Quidditch was founded at Middlebury College in 2005. What started as a small group of 20 students has grown significantly in the past several years. Students at over 160 colleges and 30 high school currently play Quidditch at some level, according to the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association. The sport follows the same rules as those described in Rowlings'  best-selling series. The only difference lies in students' inability to fly. Instead, students must play the entirety of the game with a broom between their legs while they run up and down the field. 

Each team demands seven players with specific positions. The Keeper acts as a goalie. His/her job is to protect the hoops at their end of the field from the Quaffle, the largest ball in play at all times. The Chasers attempt to throw the Quaffle through the opposing team's hoops. There are three Chasers per team.  Beaters attempt to thwart the success of the Chasers by hitting them with Bludgers, medium-sized balls. If a player is hit by a Bludger, s/he has to stop play and run around his/her team's hoop to simulate the amount of time necessary to remount a broom after being hit in mid-flight. There are two Beaters per team. Finally, the Seeker is in constant search of the Snitch. In the Harry Potter series, the Snitch is a small golden ball with wings. It is extremely fast and difficult to catch. In the adaptation, the Snitch is played by a very fast human runner. S/he has full run of the campus and has to avoid being caught by the Seeker. Once the Seeker has caught the Snitch, his/her team is awarded 150 points. 

While the sport may draw a large crowd of Harry Potter fans, S.U. Quidditch co-founder, Drew Shields, was not among them. "I'm not a Harry Potter fan. I've never even read the books," Shields, a freshman, says.  A high school friend recruited him to play Quidditch last summer "just for fun." He enjoyed it so much that he traveled with a group of his high school friends up to the Quidditch World cup last October. The Cup provided inspiration for Shields. He decided to start his own Quidditch team at Syracuse University. 

"It brings a certain clientele out and those are the sort of people that I always find really fascinating," Shields explains. 

Shields, and the rest of the S.U. team, urge students to recognize that Quidditch isn't just for Potter fans. He says the team is made up of students who loved the books and students who didn't. 

Freshman Ryan Govoni was hesitant to join the team. "It's for little kids. Kind of dorky, you know?" he scoffs. Govoni joined the team with a little pressure from Shields and other friends. He was surprised to find that he could relate to the full contact sport. 

"It's a lot like rugby and handball and soccer. You can really identify with a lot of sports," Govoni says. 

Despite it's rising popularity, Quidditch has been met with mixed reactions. The S.U.  team gets a lot of heckling from passerby. "The biggest misconception is the Harry Potter part of it," Govoni explains. 

Shields says Quidditch has got people talking, regardless of whether the discussion might be good or bad. While the team has met some some hecklers, he says the majority of passerby stop and watch or join the game. 

The unofficial team is working to make S.U. Quidditch into a club sport for next year. The team will travel to the World Cup and receive school funding. In the meantime, Shields says, Quidditch is "just something to get excited about." 


Potter can fly

So I think he may win against everyone on this team. But its nice to see real people out playing something together, instead of your typical college jock.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.