Students and spectators gather together for the annual quidditch team tryouts.
ollege students can’t fly, but that didn’t stop a group of students from flocking to the East River flats on Sept. 20 for the opportunity to learn how for the University of Minnesota’s quidditch team’s annual tryouts. Many were quidditch veterans, but there were also some new faces with hopes of making the elite travel team of 21 players.
“They split up the region this year, so I’m thinking we’ll be one of the top contenders,” Hallie Schley, president of Minnesota Quidditch and a beater on the travel team, said. “They” is the U.S. Quidditch organization—or USQ as the muggles call it. Schley is especially excited for the upcoming season to start as it’s going to be her last.
The International Quidditch Association (IQA) hosts the annual World Cup where about 80 teams have traveled to compete for the coveted prize since 2008. The University’s team has done well in the past and accomplished a lot for an organization that wasn’t around 10 years ago. The team has participated in the World Cup for the past five years and even made it to the semi-finals in 2012.
While some might say that quidditch isn’t really a sport, the Harry Potter-loving team would beg to differ. The team usually practices two times a week and does several strength and conditioning drills while holding a broom (or PVC pipe) between their legs.
“It might not be considered the ‘ultimate workout,’ but it is definitely on the same playing field as other major sports, considering the fact that quidditch is a combination of football, dodgeball, and soccer,” Ben Spokely, an experienced chaser on the team, said. And that’s what drew him to try out his freshman year. A Harry Potter fan, Spokely was very active when he was younger and decided to join the quidditch community because he liked the physicality of the game, especially when it came to tackling. As spectators notice while watching a match, people get pretty beaten up while playing the somewhat aggressive sport.
While watching a match may not be as magical as quidditch is in the movies, the crowds still make it a hoot. Players use both volleyballs and dodgeballs in place of the fantasy quaffle and bludgers. Qudditch players even have a snitch—a tennis ball—hanging on the back of sprinters’ golden shorts. Next Sunday afternoon, come out and watch the Minnesota Quidditch team play, whether you’re a wizard or just a muggle.