December 4, 2016

Webster Quidditch hosts largest tournament in school history

Don’t forget to read the companion story about Quidditch participation numbers here

From Hogwarts to Webster University, the Webster Quidditch team hosted its second annual Quidditch Invitational and fell one match short of an undefeated tournament.

Eight teams came to Crestwood Park Oct. 1 to compete in the sport based on the Harry Potter books and films. Along with Webster University, the tournament consisted of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), University of Illinois (UI), Illinois College, University of Southern Indiana (USI), Westwood College, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and perennial World Cup contending qualifier University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou).

The teams were split into two pools randomly. Webster was seeded with SIUE, UI and Mizzou. Former team captain Dane Davis said the pool Webster was slotted in was easily the more difficult of the two.

“Going into our home tournament, we felt like we were in a more competitive of the two pools,” Davis said. “We had Mizzou, who is a World Cup contending team every single year. An Illini Ridgebacks team that’s pretty good … SIUE which is the new up-and-coming team in St. Louis. They had a lot of athletes, just not a lot of experience.”

Davis’ teammate, Jason Grizzle, who is known by his teammates as “Speedy,” said the competition they faced was not the quality team they have played in the past, but they take what they learn from these types of tournaments and bring that into their matches against better teams.

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Webster’s first match was against Illini Ridgeway and beat them at a “snitch range.” Snitch range is when the winning team has a scoring margin more than 30 points, the amount the snitch is worth. The final score was 130-50.

In their second match against Mizzou, Webster won 120-70. The victory over Mizzou was the first in four years, Davis said. Davis, a senior, said the last time they beat Mizzou was his freshman year in his first game.

“That’s a team that we haven’t played very competitively in a long time,” Davis said. “They get a World Cup bid every single year out of a really big region in the midwest where we only get four bids.”

Jake Boshear pulled the snitch to seal the victory over Mizzou.

Davis plays both the chaser and the beater position. The beater position is more of a defensive role. They use dodgeballs as a knockout effect. If the beater hits a chaser or a beater on the other team with the dodgeball, the player hit has to go back to their hoops until being allowed back into the field of play.

The chaser position is a more offensive position. They control the quaffle, which is the main ball in play. The quaffle is represented by a volleyball. This is the ball that is thrown through the rings. Each time the ball is thrown through the ring, it represents 10 points.

Going into their third match, Webster faced SIUE for their final match in pool play. Webster jumped out to a fast start, getting a lead of more than 50 points. SIUE pulled the snitch, but still lost the match 140-100.

Out of pool play, Webster received the second seed to USI, who was also undefeated in pool play, because they had a larger winning margin out of pool play. They won their first match 110-40 and advanced to the finals to face off against Mizzou again.

“They had more numbers than we did,” Grizzle said. “They were on a roll because they had won the last several matches that they had played other than against us. They just kind of continued in that and beat us.”

Webster lost out of range to Mizzou, 120-40. 

“They just came out hot against us and we didn’t really have answer,” Davis said. “Injuries took a toll on some of our beaters. There was just exhaustion, but we didn’t really play a good game.”

Davis played high school football as a liniebacker at Northwest high school in Cedar Hill, Missouri. With his football background, Davis said it was the full contact aspect of the game that got him into Quidditch.

“I played linebacker for Northwest, so I wasn’t very good, if you know anything about local football,” Davis said. “They said full contact so I came out and stuck with it from that point on.”

Davis was captain of the Quidditch team for two and a half years until stepping down to focus on his career outside of school. Davis still runs the team’s social media accounts and apparel.

Grizzle came from the other aspect of wanting to play. He did not play sports in high school; he was more of a fan of the books and movies. He said that it is balancing the athletics and the concept of Harry Potter that makes the sport hard to get new members.

“It’s a struggle because of course it came from a very nerdy base and is evolving into this very athletic thing,” Grizzle said. “We kind of have to have a balance between Harry Potter events and difficult practices. So we are kind of in a tough spot where we will lose people if we go in either direction.”

Last year, Webster Quidditch was an official team and ranked as high as eighteenth in national rankings. This year, the team experienced a shortage in numbers and decided not to continue their official status. 

“It’s a high intensity, full-contact co-ed sport. You’re not going to play anything like it. The closest thing to it is a mix between rugby, lacrosse and kind of dodgeball. If you want to compete, this is arguably the most nationally competitive team here at Webster,” Davis said.

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