One of UR’s real, yet often unnoticed problems, is what to do with former high school athletes not quite fit for NCAA competition. Lamenting their glory days gone by, these former jocks are the ones who show up to intramural football games in Fauver complete with plays, formations and hand signals, hoping that one day their talents will be scouted during the Intramural League Championship game.
But college is a time for trying new things. And in the world of athletics, that means dropping the football, picking up a broomstick and heading down to Quidditch practice.
“We have really athletic people on the team who don’t care about Harry Potter but want that club sport that has a really physical aspect,” sophomore Katherine Pieper, aka Madam Hooch, said. The club, which boasts about 20 to 25 active members, tries to scrimmage regularly on Sundays at noon behind the Goergen Athletic Center.
The club started last year, under the direction of junior Dan Panzarella. Like most student organizations starting off, money is an issue, so the team has been playing home games for now. They won two out of three matches against the Rochester Institute of Technology last weekend and will host Ives Pond, a conglomerate of college students from the Buffalo area this Sunday.
According to Pieper, part of the excitement lies in the unexpected. The Snitch (a college cross country runner: explanation below) is allowed free reign to run anywhere on the campus. In one of last week’s games against RIT, the Golden Snitch climbed up the tree to evade the RIT Seeker. The Seeker, who has to keep his broomstick between his legs at all times, attempted to climb up the tree after the Snitch. But when he got nailed with a Bludger, he had to climb back down the tree and run back to his hoops, allowing the Snitch to escape.
“There is something for everyone in this game, because it combines elements of so many different sports,” Pieper said. “It’s something that anyone and everyone can and should get involved in.”
And the Quidditch scene is expanding. UR, in its first year of playing intercollegiate Quidditch matches, is a member of the growing International Quidditch Association, along with well over 200 teams. The money UR’s Quidditch club is saving will be used toward the Quidditch World Cup, a double-elimination tournament taking place in New York City Nov. 13 and 14. To get their Galleons’ worth, they will need to be well-versed in these rules.
The Breakdown: College Quidditch
Quaffle: A slightly deflated volleyball. Played artfully between the Chasers.
Bludgers: Three dodgeballs. Here, if you get hit by a “Bludger,” you have to drop whatever ball you’re holding and run back to the hoops at your end of the pitch before you can rejoin game-play.
It’s a bit different than “real” Quidditch. The Weasley brothers perfected their Beater skills with the use of bats, knocking the two animate Bludgers around the field. In college Quidditch, there are three Bludgers, instead of two, to keep the game rolling. And, to reduce what could otherwise be a severe liability, the Beaters are throwing the dodgeballs, not hitting them with bats.
Snitch: A cross country runner, decked out in gold, who has a tube sock with a tennis ball sticking out of the back of his pants. It’s recommended that he disappear from the playing field for 15 or 20 minutes before returning or at least before being sighted by the players on the field. The only limits placed on the Snitch: no physical assault allowed. That means that returning in a car, or wrapping themselves up in duct tape, can and does happen. The game ends when the Snitch is caught, and most games end up taking around a half hour. Finally, catching the Snitch is worth 30 points, much less than the 150 points Harry Potter gets for snagging the Snitch.
Seekers: It’s tough to pull a Wronski Feint in College Quidditch, but different Seekers employ different strategies. Some Seekers conserve energy and wait for the Snitch to return to the pitch. Other Seekers roam the campus in search of the golden blur, which can sometimes bring an abrupt end to the match.