MU’s club Quidditch team faces the new season with optimism. Quidditch is a co-ed, full-contact club sport similar to a combination of rugby and dodgeball loosely based on the game from the Harry Potter series.
Quidditch practices are held Mondays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. at Stankowski Field. Tournaments occur all semester until the regional tournament on Nov. 4 in Madison, Wisconsin, and then the national tournament in Round Rock, Texas, from April 14-15.
According to head captain Jacob Parker, practices include conditioning, individual position drills and scrimmages. MU’s Quidditch team hopes to take the sport to the next level with its competitive and welcoming atmosphere.
“[Quidditch is] something that a lot of people haven’t ever done before or seen,” Parker said. “Everyone’s super nice and we really help people learn the sport and we’re a big kind-of family ... We all hang out together after practices and get together on weekends and things like that. Like we all just kind of care about each other and are just out there to have fun and compete.”
One thing the Quidditch team prides itself on is inclusivity. According to assistant captain Kaylee Skistimas, the co-ed team has a policy of ensuring at least two minority players on the field at all times, which they refer to as Title 9¾, a play on Title IX and Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾. Skistimas enjoys the gender-inclusive dynamic of the team.
“I like [Quidditch] much better than the cliquey all-girls teams that obviously I was forced to be a part of throughout high school,” Skistimas said. “It’s a different dynamic for sure: guys and girls on the same team and being together so often ... I mean, I met my fiancé on the team so some relationships on the team do last. But as far as game play, it’s the first time the boys have ever had to throw a ball to girls, so it’s a learning curve for them ... They’ve been pretty good about it for sure.”
Skistimas wishes everyone would treat Quidditch the same as other school sports. According to Skistimas, others viewing Quidditch legitimately would enhance the team’s performance.
“If more athletes looked at this as something serious, it would be even more elevated than it’s become in the past few years,” Skistimas said.
While exploring clubs to join, freshman Cameron Hoffman chose Quidditch in order to get in better shape and try something new. For Hoffman, Quidditch has become an outlet for stress when faced with difficult classes and a new environment.
“I have school and people, which is stressful, and then I have Quidditch, which is less stressful,” Hoffman said. “It’s kind of like my place to go and [think], ‘Hey, I don’t need to worry about school right now. I’m just going to worry about taking out the dude that has the Quaffle [ball].’ It’s really good as like a destresser and like a semi-sanctuary.”
Parker hopes to provide new recruits like Hoffman with the same great experience he’s had playing Quidditch for the last four years. Parker’s favorite memory was the nationals tournament in Kissimmee, Florida, last year.
“[I enjoyed] being on the field, playing in the quarterfinals with close to like 2,000 people surrounding the field ... almost all of them cheering for our team and rooting us on,” Parker said. “It was really loud, everyone screaming and yelling and just a few of us on the field playing. It was really cool.”
Looking toward the season ahead, Hoffman is committed to improving both individually and as a team member.
“I just want to improve myself and get to know the team better,” Hoffman said. “I want to go to tournaments; keep at it … This game is definitely not for the weak of heart.”
Similar to Hoffman, Parker is ready to take on the year’s tournaments, hoping to go as far as possible in nationals this year. Last year, MU’s Quidditch team placed third in the national tournament.
“We’re planning on winning the whole thing this year … and we think we have a good shot at it,” Parker said. “So if anyone wants to come play on a team, come down to Texas with us and help us; come out any time.”
Edited by Brooke Collier | email@example.com