The Webster University Quidditch team hosted its first-ever tournament Oct. 10 on the field at Eden Theological Seminary. Two teams joined Webster in the tournament: The Wizards of Westwood, a joint team from William Woods University and Westminster College, and the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIU) Salukis.
Webster went undefeated in the tournament, beating SIU in the final round of bracket play 190 points to 20. The tournament did not count in the official U.S. Quidditch (USQ) standings, where Webster is ranked 40 out of 171 teams.
Dane Davis, one of two Webster Quidditch captains, said Quidditch provides a way to stay engaged in school sports.
“I played a lot of sports growing up and in high school. This is basically my way of continuing to play sports,” Davis said. “I’d rather not play anything that the school offers, so this is the next best thing. It’s full contact, which is what I was really looking for.”
2015 marks the first year the Webster University Quidditch team is officially recognized as a team in the USQ. Though the club has existed in some form since 2009, it was never registered with USQ.
History of the sport
The sport of Quidditch is based on the Harry Potter book and film series. In the Harry Potter universe, Quidditch is played by young wizards and witches atop flying brooms.
The real world sport of Quidditch follows the same outline, but tailors the experience for “muggles” (non-magical humans).
The USQ was started in 2010 and serves over 4,000 athletes on 171 teams across the United States, the official web page said.
Though the sport is based on a fantasy series, Jordan Palmer, one of two Webster Quidditch captains, believes they are deserving of more respect than many people give them.
“I like how [Harry Potter is] how [Quidditch] started, but we have developed into something more,” Palmer said. “We’re trying to break away from that aspect, so that people can take us more seriously. We are a serious sport.”
The USQ website states that each official Quidditch team must be co-ed with six players on the field per game. Each player on the field serves a specific function in one of three positions: chasers, beaters and keepers.
Three chasers are the offense for the team. Using a volleyball, they attempt to score goals through any one of three hoops located at both ends of the field. Each score on the opposing team’s hoops is worth 10 points.
Two beaters use dodgeballs to knock players off their brooms and out of gameplay, forcing them to run back to their home goalpost.
One keeper on each team protects the three hoops.
After 18 minutes of gameplay has elapsed, each team fields a seventh player, a seeker. The seeker is a player who plays specifically to catch the snitch. The snitch is a neutral player who attaches a velcro ball to the back of their pants. Once the snitch is caught by a seeker, the game is over. Capturing the snitch is worth 30 points.
The brooms that players hold between their legs may not help them fly, but the broom does present a handicap, Palmer said.
Brooms must be held between the thighs of each player on the field. If the broom is dropped or removed, the player must run back and touch the hoop to continue playing.
Playing Quidditch at the collegiate level is not without its risks. USQ guidelines only require students to wear a mouthguard while in play; no padding is worn.
Webster Quidditch players have experienced their own injuries from the sport.
Davis has had dislocated toes, broken ribs and sprained his ankles. Palmer cracked a rib last semester.
Tyler Maubach has strained the deltoid muscle in his shoulder and groin muscle.
Joey Dennis has broken an ankle, suffered a severe concussion and tore his ACL.
Though 2015 is the Webster University Quidditch team’s first year as a USQ team, president Sarah Gruett has her sights set high for the future of the team.
“We are growing incredibly, athletically. We hope to make it to World Cup this year,” Gruett said. “If we don’t get this year, fine, because it will definitely be here next year.”
The Quidditch World Cup is held in Rock Hill, S.C. each year, the USQ official website states. Regional tournaments held across the country determine the 80 teams participating in the championship.
Webster University Quidditch will be playing an official tournament in Milwaukee, W.I. Nov. 7. They will be playing in the regionals tournament in November for a bid to the World Cup.