New RSO brings magic to muggles

Students have grounded a magical sport from the skies to the SIU campus.

Quidditch, a game created by J.K. Rowling in the “Harry Potter” series, has been adapted by students and is now an official university sports club.

The co-ed sport played by Harry Potter and other wizard characters at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry features seven players — three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker — flying in the air on broomsticks. The chasers carry a ball, the quaffle, through the air and attempt to throw it through a hoop, defended by the keeper on the opposing team’s side for 10 points. The beaters hit the bludgers, solid, independent and dangerous balls that try to knock the chasers off their brooms. The seeker has to catch a small ball called the Golden Snitch. If caught, the game ends and the team that catches it is awarded 150 points.

Muggle quidditch, or quidditch for non-magical people, is a variation of the game created, obviously, for play on the ground.

The team has had two meetings, where students discussed how the game is played as well as practice times and team dues. A scrimmage was planned for Monday evening, but was later cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.

Kelsea Bourland, president of the club and a sophomore from Marion studying physiology, and Aaron Carstens, vice president of the club and a junior from Marion studying psychology, said they played the game for fun with members of their neighborhood before they decided to play it on a larger scale.

Bourland and Carstens presented their idea to sports club counselors through the Recreation Center earlier this semester and attended a meeting April 4 to discuss making it an official sports club.

After pitching their idea and negotiating the details, the Quidditch Club has become a Registered Student Organization and a school-funded sports club.

The team is working on a Harry Potter-themed fundraiser, which will offer foods of the series such as pumpkin juice and chocolate frogs. Bourland said the club’s board will pitch a budget plan to the Sport Clubs council, and funds raised will be them.

Bringing an in-air sport to the ground may seem strange, but many rules in this version are similar to the original.

Each team must have seven to 21 players, but only seven play at a time. It remains co-ed, requiring the minority gender have at least 2 members.

Though the members do not fly on brooms, they must keep broomsticks between their legs at all times.

“Flying on broomsticks does make you look stupid, but in the end that’s what makes the game silly and fun,” she said.

Volleyballs are used in place of bewitched quaffles, and beaters throw dodgeballs at the chasers to simulate bludgers, knocking them out of game play temporarily, according to the International Quidditch Association website.

The golden snitch is a tennis ball inside a yellow sock tucked into the waistband of the snitch runner, much like a flag in flag football. The snitch runner is not on either team, does not use a broom, and can use any means to avoid capture, including physical contact such as wrestling takedowns or trickery such as riding a bicycle, climbing trees or hiding in the audience, according to the official association rulebook.

The RSO is still deciding where on campus the game will be played.

They also haven’t administered player positions.

Team t-shirts and jerseys are in the works, and the team member’s dues will pay for them.

Bourland said because the RSO is new, they won’t begin competing for the tournament until the fall semester, so the rest of spring semester will be focused on recruiting players and familiarizing them with the fairly new sport.

She said most people who haven’t seen the sport played before don’t understand how intense the game is.

According to the association website, players are required to wear goggles and mouth guards.

“When you’re talking tournament level, it gets pretty competitive,” she said. “The chances of you breaking your leg are slim, but be ready just in case.”

For tournament play, the team must play at least five matches.

According to the association’s website, more than hundreds of individuals requested to be a part of the leagues since 2005, and 300 of those requests have become fully fledged teams or leagues.

The nearest teams to SIU include Illinois State University, Augustana College and Marquette University.

Mitchel Salinas, team member and an undecided junior from Park Forest, said he wanted to play for a long time after he witnessed games in which snitch runners climbed buildings and swam in nearby ponds.

 

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