The Marquette University Club Quidditch was the newest club sport on campus last year. They were established by Captain Curtis Taylor, now senior, and co-founder Shane Anderson, alumnus, one year ago on a whim over the summer. Coming back to campus, the team recruited friends and fellow athletes, but they recruited young. The team consists of 16 players-8 freshman that had a lot of promise after its few games already played. The team came in with swag, confidence/cockiness, and tore it up on the pitch to create a household name for themselves as one of the "Big Three" from the Midwest Region. Coming into this year, the team lost a few added a few, and now Marquette Quidditch is a roster of 21 people-17 of which are in the sophomore class that has definitely been the core of the team! Look for Marquette to take the lessons they learned and the experiences they gained to really show everyone how far the team has come! Marquette Quidditch can proudly say again "WE ARE MARQUETTE" as we represent our university-looking damn good in the process.
Not Pictured: #6 Chelsea Greco, #28 Melissa Lamberton, and #31 Keith Carr
2nd Annual Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Memorial
South Bend, Indiana
2ND PLACE: 4-1 (4-1)
HOME OPENER vs NIU-conference games
WIN: 3-0 (7-1)
HOME vs Minnesota-conference games
WIN: 2-1 (9-2)
1ST PLACE: 6-0 (15-2)
2ND PLACE: 5-2 (20-4)
Harry Potter bewitches Marquette Quidditch Team
It looked like dodgeball. Or maybe water polo without the water.
Kicking up mud as they ran down the field holding brooms between their legs, the athletes sweated in the early evening heat, throwing balls at each other and through hoops.
Someone in a group of soccer players walking off a nearby field yelled sarcastically "Go Ravenclaw!"
Marquette University's quidditch players are used to wisecracks.
"We get a lot of that. We just ignore it," said Curtis Taylor, who founded Marquette's quidditch team. "Until you come play with us, don't talk - it's a lot more physical than most people realize."
As the legions of Harry Potter fans grow up and head to college, a growing number of campuses are adding quidditch teams to their club sport offerings. Marquette's quidditch team became an official club sport this year. Other Wisconsin colleges are forming teams.
There's a slick quarterly magazine called Quidditch Quarterly, or "QQ," which attracts 200,000 online readers. Teams travel to national and world cup tournaments. More than 500 universities and high schools in the U.S. field quidditch teams plus a couple hundred more in foreign countries.
This isn't exactly J.K. Rowling's vision of the game popularized in her books. While Harry Potter and his Gryffindor teammates zoomed on brooms high over the playing pitch, throwing quaffles through three hoops to score points and searching for the golden snitch, the muggle or human version of quidditch hews close to terra firma.
"Obviously there is no flying," said Taylor, 21, a senior international business major from Wadsworth, Ohio.
Real world quidditch is a mash-up of full-contact, coed soccer, dodgeball and rugby with brooms. Created in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Vermont, the game features seven players on each team - three chasers who move the quaffle - a slightly deflated volleyball - down the field by either running with it or passing it to another chaser; two beaters who throw or kick bludgers (rubber dodgeballs) at opposing chasers to temporarily knock them out of play; one keeper to defend their team's three scoring hoops; and one seeker who chases the snitch runner to remove the snitch to end the game.
In the books and movies, the snitch was a tiny golden-colored ball with wings that flew around the playing field. In real-world quidditch, the snitch is a tennis ball inside a yellow sock tucked into the waistband of the snitch runner, someone who isn't on either team and attempts to avoid capture by whatever means necessary like hiding in the audience.
There's no time limit. The match ends when the snitch has been captured.
Cross country runners are good seekers, basketball or water polo players have the skills to be good chasers and rugby or football players make for good beaters, said Alex Benepe, commissioner of the International Quidditch Association, a nonprofit organization that oversees the game and helps schools form teams. For athletes used to playing with just one ball - at any one time there are four bludgers and two quaffles in play - learning a new game is an attraction.
"I think initially there's the novelty factor and the Harry Potter connection," Benepe said of the game's popularity. "What makes them stay, and their staying attracts other people, is the quality of the game's design. It combines a lot of sports, it's coed and has humorous and creative elements, which means there's something for everyone."
Marquette's players range from Potterphiles to former high school athletes looking for a really new sport to try in college. Chelsea Greco, 21, a junior from Omaha, Neb., and Lauren Bratonja, 19, a Franklin native studying to become an athletic trainer, both played sports in high school and decided to try quidditch last year.
"Some people make fun of you endlessly. People ask if we use a Nimbus 2000 or Firebolt," said Bratonja, referring to world-class brooms used in the Potter universe.
They don't. Their brooms don't sport fancy names and can't fly, but they feature leather coverings where the handle meets the straw to cut down on chafing between players' legs.
Greco, a soccer and basketball player, was chosen last season for the national quidditch squad - yes, there's even a national team - but couldn't participate after tearing her ACL. She enjoys the full contact nature of the sport, which includes tackling, stiff-arming and stripping quaffles by poking it from the hands of chasers.
"It's how intense you want to make it," Greco said.
Eleven players have returned from last year's 22-member squad at Marquette. About 20 people showed up for tryouts one night last week with more scheduled later in the week.
Marquette players pay $250 for dues, which include uniforms and some travel expenses. As a club sport at Marquette, the quidditch team can apply for funding for flights or fuel for road trips. Players must pay for hotels and food. The team sells a Marquette Quidditch T-shirt to fans and last season raised $11,000 to compete in the World Cup in New York.
Marquette's fall schedule includes matches against Minnesota, Illinois State, Kansas, Loyola, Purdue and Missouri, plus tournaments in Indiana, Kansas and Ohio. Home matches have not yet been scheduled, but Taylor said it's likely Marquette will host a quidditch match later this month.
Taylor, the Wisconsin representative for the International Quidditch Association, said teams are forming this season at several campuses in the state, including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater, UW-Green Bay, UW-Eau Claire and Carthage College.
Among the Marquette students who attended quidditch team tryouts this week was Kelly Molinaro, 19, a sophomore transfer student from Palatine, Ill. She loves Harry Potter - read all the books, saw all the movies - and wanted to stay active in college so it came down to going out for either softball or quidditch.
"I told my brothers and sisters I was joining something nerdy and they're like, 'chess?' I'm like - 'no, quidditch.' They're like, 'Oh God,' " Molinaro said.
Book Series Spawns Sport
Chris Fiebig admits the idea of his son running around on a field with a broomstick between his legs makes him laugh.
“I’ve been trying to explain it to people all day,” said Chris, of Baraboo, whose son Matthew is a member of the Marquette University Quidditch team. “Each time it just gets more and more funny.”
But for Chris, if the sport — which was born out of the J. K. Rowling children’s novel series “Harry Potter” — gives his sophomore son something fun to do that doesn’t involve alcohol or drugs, it can’t be all bad.
“This is an outlet for them,” Chris said. “And it helps them stay involved in something active.”
Matthew and his teammates traveled to Reedsburg Saturday to put on a Quidditch demonstration at the annual Harry Potter Adventure festival.
Matthew explains the game like this.
A team of seven rides flying broomsticks around a field and tries to score points by throwing balls into the opposing team’s elevated hoops. Meanwhile, a “Golden Snitch” with a ball tucked in his shorts runs around a two-mile radius of the field.
The team whose “Seeker” captures the ball from the Snitch gets 30 points, and that also ends the game. The team with the most points wins.
It’s a semi-contact sport that the Marquette crew says is sort of like rugby, lacrosse, basketball and dodgeball all rolled into one.
“On a broom,” added team member Caroline Villa.
People don’t always give the sport the respect it deserves, the team says, mainly because of its attachment to a children’s fiction novel series. However, you don’t have to be a nerd to play, they said. Only one-half of the team has ever read a Harry Potter book.
“We get mocked a lot,” said Curtis Taylor, president and founder of Marquette University’s first Quidditch team. “But no one makes fun of you after they play. It’s pretty intense.”
Taylor learned about the sport through Facebook last summer and sought to form his own team. After one season, Taylor says, the squad ranks ninth among 732 collegiate teams.
Ten points for Gryffindors....er, Marquette!
Swooping and soaring, ducking and dodging, Harry Potter always seemed to have his way on the quidditch field. The sport, played in the massively popular books by J.K. Rowling, was made for young wizards who can fly and cast magic spells.
Now, thanks to some slight rule adaptations, Marquette muggles can join in the fun.
Real-life quidditch is a combination of rugby, basketball and water polo. Players hold brooms between their legs as they run down the field, avoiding errant bludgers (dodgeballs) as they aim to throw the quaffle (scoring ball) into one of three hoops. All the while, a seeker from each team searches for the snitch (third-party runner), whose capture signals the end of the game. Read a more in-depth explanation of the game on the International Quidditch Association's website.
Officially voted a club sport this year, Marquette's quidditch team is the brainchild of juniors Shane Anderson, Bus Ad '13, and Curtis Taylor, Arts '13, Bus Ad '13. What inspired them to bring such a unique sport to campus? Taylor says he was just "creeping on Facebook" when a quidditch video caught his eye.
"I thought it would be fun to do something like that on campus, with Harry Potter being done for good at this point, to just keep that fantastical world around," says Taylor.
The first step toward making Marquette quidditch a reality involved gauging interest and recruiting players. The team started with eight committed players and has since grown to 16. Chelsea Greco, Arts '14 and one of the original members, says word spread quickly about the new team this summer via Taylor's quidditch Facebook group. It also caught fire when advertised on the incoming freshmen page, so much so that half the team is first-years. Despite the big push for players, however, Taylor says he didn't accept just anybody.
"I would say 90 percent of the team is three-sport athletes from high school," Taylor explains. "I didn't really recruit anyone who was just into Harry Potter."
Then came the logistical challenge of getting equipment together. Before officially being named a club sport, the captains charged regular club dues so they could purchase uniforms, cleats, spirit wear and brooms. Looking back, the team's inaugural season was a huge success. They finished 20th at the national Quidditch World Cup in New York City, had the top-ranked offense of any school in the world and ended the season internationally ranked 11th out of 400 teams. While in New York, the team was interviewed by NBC, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for its play, uniforms and, as Taylor puts it, "overall awesomeness." Watch for more Marquette quidditch action this spring, when the team hosts a tournament in Racine, Wis., in conjunction with "Harry Potter Day."