October 24, 2016

Webster Quidditch works toward improving participation numbers

Don’t forget to read the companion story about the Gorlok Invitational here

This year, Webster’s Quidditch team did not apply for official accreditation after being considered an official team last year. The team has previously competed in official matches against top competition from around the Midwest reaching a ranking as high as 18th in the country.

United States Quidditch implemented a policy in their 2016-2017 rulebook that for a collegiate Quidditch to be considered official, they must only have players from that team’s university affiliate.

Webster Quidditch currently has three players that play on the team that are not students at Webster University.

An official Quidditch roster can have a maximum 21 players on a team. The Webster team does not have the numbers to fill a full roster. The team took 16 players to this weekend’s tournament and  15 to the tournament at Illinois State.

“Numbers have been a problem this year, getting people to practice enough to play full games with,” Dane Davis said. “I need 14 to be comfortable and give people a couple breaks here and there.”

Davis is a beater and catcher on the team. He was team captain for two and a half years before stepping down to work his full-time job. He still runs the team’s social media and apparel sales.

While Davis said the numbers are down, he said hosting tournaments like the Gorlok Invitational does help build Quidditch in the area.

“Hosting tournaments really helps build St. Louis Quidditch as a community,” Davis said. “Having [Southern Illinois University Carbondale] come out, being able to pull all these teams to come out here, it really helps us as a program grow because we get to play against all these other teams. We had eight teams come to our tournament from as far as southern Indiana … It helps us grow.”

Four of the six members of the organization’s board are leaving after this year, which leaves an opening for new members to join.

When it comes to recruiting new members, Davis said the perception of the game turns people away who do not know the true aspects of the sport.

“It’s difficult to market it to outsiders just because it is so weird. You hear Quidditch and you wonder ‘what is that? It’s just a bunch of nerds running around in capes, right?’” Davis said.

The organization tries to appeal to both sides, the athletic side and the book and film side. Quidditch team member Jason Grizzle said they have light practices just to have fun and learn the game. They have Harry Potter-themed events to bring in all Harry Potter fans and they have tough, full-contact practices for the people that come for the athletic side of the game.

Davis hopes that the university will eventually help and support the organization and that will help with team numbers in the end.

“I think a Homecoming Quidditch tournament would be the most Webster thing ever,” Davis said.

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