Saluki Quidditch makes first appearance in US Quidditch Cup

The+SIU+Quidditch+team+talks+among+themselves%2C+on+Thursday%2C+April+12%2C+2019+during+their+last+practice+before+nationals.+
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Saluki Quidditch makes first appearance in US Quidditch Cup

The SIU Quidditch team talks among themselves, on Thursday, April 12, 2019 during their last practice before nationals.

The SIU Quidditch team talks among themselves, on Thursday, April 12, 2019 during their last practice before nationals.

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

The SIU Quidditch team talks among themselves, on Thursday, April 12, 2019 during their last practice before nationals.

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

The SIU Quidditch team talks among themselves, on Thursday, April 12, 2019 during their last practice before nationals.

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

The Saluki Quidditch team went to their first ever appearance in the national United States Quidditch Cup last weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

Quidditch is a sport based off of the seven book Harry Potter series written by JK Rowling.

Gabby Pettyjohn, a junior studying political science from Harristown, Illinois, said it is much more than a Harry Potter fan club.

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“I thought it was more a nerdy thing, oh you liked Harry Potter, you’re going to love Quidditch,” Pettyjohn said. “We have people from all over, different personalities.”

Alex Tongate, a freshman studying physics from Colfax, Illinois echoed the sentiment.

“When I heard about it first, I thought it was kind of nerdy,” Tongate said. “I played real sports all my life so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Taylor Butler, a senior from Dayton, Ohio double majoring in mechanical engineering and Chinese, knew about Quidditch before arriving in Carbondale.

Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillermedia
Paul Kevorkian throws the ball into the hoop guarded by chaser Taylor Butler, on Thursday, April 12, 2019 during their last practice before the US Quidditch Championship.

“I kind of knew what Quidditch was before I got to college, and I kind of wanted to play,” Butler said.

As far as how the game of Quidditch is actually played, the game consists of a keeper, who is responsible for guarding the hoops, beaters who throw dodgeballs to knock other players out, chasers who score the goals, a seeker who catches the snitch, and a snitch.

As the quaffle captain, Tongate described the game of Quidditch with references to multiple other sports.

“The offense is very similar to basketball; a lot of cuts, screens and passing,” Tongate said. “The defense is kind of like football where you’re like man-to-man.”

Tongate described the beaters as the thing which makes Quidditch what it is.

“The thing that makes it unique is that there’s beaters that can knock you off at any time,” Tongate said. “You’re pretty much playing basketball, with people trying to get you [off your broom].”

A typical Quidditch match will go at least 18 minutes, and is ended once the snitch is caught.

“At the 18 minute mark of the match, a snitch comes out, which is a guy with a tennis ball in the back of his pants,” Tongate said. “Two seekers from each team try to take it.”

The Saluki Quidditch team has been at SIU since 2012, but this is the first year the team has qualified for nationals, which started with efforts beginning last year.

“Last year there was an initiative to up our recruitment of players, because we were struggling to gain players,” Butler said. “So we went really hard last semester, 20 people came to our first practice.”

Once the team had gained enough members for a full roster of 14, then began the process of becoming an official member of the United States Quidditch League.

Many of the members were concerned by having to pay a fee and losing every game, but thoughts changed quickly after a scrimmage against the University of Illinois.

“A lot of our players felt they didn’t want to pay $60 just to go to tournaments and lose every game,” Butler said. “We went to a scrimmage against U of I where we did really well, and I said I don’t think we’re going to lose every game this year.”

Butler began looking for options as president of the club for what she could do to make SIU Quidditch an official team.

“We actually got a sponsorship from our national governing body that paid for every players dues, it was valued at $840,” Butler said.

After retaining the status as an official team within the United States Quidditch League, they went to a tournament and then the regional championship.

“We went official, we went to a tournament, and then we went to our regional championship,” Butler said. “In our regional championship we won in the tertiary bracket, which gave us the seventh spot at nationals.”

Some of the teams Southern matched up against in regionals included the University of Illinois, Illinois State, Kansas and Minnesota.

Illinois State University is one of the seven teams which qualified from the Midwest region, as well as SIU, and the Salukis have gotten a chance to play against both teams this season.

Paul Kevorkian grapples with for the ball Josue Garcia on Thursday, April, 2019 during their last practice before the US Quidditch Championship.

“ISU, we played them a lot, both times we’ve been beating them up until when the snitch is released,” Tongate said. “A score is worth 10 points, the snitch is worth 30, we’ve been beating them and then they catch the snitch and beat us.”

As far as how the tournament was set up, there was pool play on Saturday, and SIU was set in flight B.

Their goal was to survive and advance to Sunday in their first nationals appearance.

Unfortunately the Quidditch team did not make it to bracket play as they lost both of their flight matches on Saturday, but Butler hopes for the team to only get stronger moving forward.

“I definitely love to see them building on this first bid to nationals,” Butler said. “To grow the team, I would love next year for them to have 21 players officially.”

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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