September 27, 2016

Quidditch team succeeds on multiple levels

The Webster Quidditch team has the coolest jerseys of any team or organization on campus.

Photo Contributed by Nick Apple Jake Boshears makes a tackle. Dane Davis (15) said that quidditch is most similar as a sport to rugby.

Photo Contributed by Nick Apple
Jake Boshears makes a tackle. Dane Davis (15) said that quidditch is most similar as a sport to rugby.

Seriously guys. Quidditch.

I was flabbergasted. There I sat at my desk like a sports Grinch looking down from my perch wondering how Christmas had come early for a team I had never taken seriously before. 

Sophomore Dane Davis, one of the captains on the quidditch team, said that the jerseys along with a new logo were a summer project of his, along with teammate Jake Boshears.

“That was kind of our baby this past summer,” Davis said. “We couldn’t be happier with them.”

I couldn’t believe the jerseys when I first saw them. But the jerseys are just the beginning. The quidditch team has big plans. Davis said that the club plans on applying for officially sanctioned United States Quidditch Association Membership for next season.

What’s more, the quidditch team won their first ever trophy last month as they brought home the Illinois College Tournament Championship. Davis said that the team competes against a wide variety of opponents, including teams from Ohio State University and the University of Missouri.

“It’s the fastest growing collegiate sport in the world,” Davis said.

What is now the quidditch team originally morphed out of a group called ”The “Potterheads” that began in the mid-2000s. However, the club has existed on its own since 2009. Billy Ratz has been the advisor for two and a half years and said he was so proud and excited for the team because of all the work they put in when they won the Illinois College Tournament last month.

Photo Contributed by Nick Apple Natalie Gawedzinski evades a tackle in Webster’s last tournament at Illinois College in Jacksonville Illinois

Photo Contributed by Nick Apple
Natalie Gawedzinski evades a tackle in Webster’s last tournament at Illinois College in Jacksonville Illinois

“They are one of the most dedicated student organizations on this campus,” Ratz said. “They have a really large membership — I’ve been on Webster’s campus since 1998 and I’ve seen a lot of organizations come and go, but this one has staying power.”

Quidditch is an odd club —that goes without saying — but it is odd in the sense that it is a mixture of people who do not necessarily share common interests, other than quidditch.

Caroline Patterson is a sophomore and a “beater” on the quidditch team. She says that there are people on the team like her who came for the love of Harry Potter and social aspects but have adopted the athletic aspects of the game. 

“Most people in this club don’t come from an athletic background,” Patterson said. “ But it has gotten a lot more athletic as the years have gone on.”

When I asked quidditch players to describe the game to me, the most immediate comparison was rugby. Rugby? Really?

“To continue to grow we have to be taken seriously,” Davis said. “It’s a rough game, my brother has broken his collar bone playing.  We had a kid (Joey Dennis) get a concussion at a tournament.”

Davis played football at Northwest High School and said that it was the physical contact which drew him to the game.

“We’ve done a better job about recruiting athletes,” Davis said. “Typically when a qudditch team forms, it starts with book-lovers. And then they begin to bring in athletes.”

All of the evidence was pointing to something that I couldn’t quite believe or understand. Could quidditch really be a sport? Cool uniforms, trophies, road trips and injuries all sounded good (well the injuries weren’t so good actually), but something continued to hold me back.

After all, most people on the quidditch team had never played sports in their life. There are no scholarships, no quidditch stadiums, and no professional teams. Maybe my socks were too tight, or my head not screwed on right.

And then Patterson told me something that made me stop and think of quidditch in a way I hadn’t before.

“There’s a really good sense of community (within Quidditch),” Patterson said. “If I see someone out in public in a quiddtich jersey, I’ll come up and introduce myself, and say like, ‘Hey man.’ Awesome. Quidditch.’”

And more than anything else this convinced me of quidditch’s legitimacy as a sport, because this has always been my greatest love of sports, that it brings people together. Sport is the great unifier. What other occasion can bring complete strangers into tear-filled jubilant hugs than a major sporting triumph?

So if quidditch truly does have a passionate community that cares about the growing sport, then I won’t question its legitimacy. No, my heart didn’t grow any bigger, but this is a start at least.

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