Accio competition: Young club’s success soars

BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE: (Left) Freshman Sean Beloff rushes past a player from Ringling College of Art and Design during a match Saturday afternoon at Kanapaha Park in Gainesville, Fla. Six teams competed in the first southeast regional tournament co-hosted by the International Quidditch Association. Beloff plays chaser, a position that requires throwing the quaffle through any of three hoops. Freshman George Cameron Hay raises up the Swamp Cup trophy as teammates celebrate at Sunday’s closing ceremonies. UM beat Ringling twice in a best-of-three final by scores of 90-20 and 60-20. Courtesy Angela Baumgartner.

Quidditch isn’t just something to read about in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books anymore.

Thanks to juniors Samantha Sutliff and Alex Locust, who created the Quidditch organization last year, students can now play it here on campus, minus the flying brooms and balls.

According to the Harry Potter Lexicon website, “Quidditch is a fast, dangerous, exciting game in which two teams, flying on broomsticks, compete for points scored by throwing a ball (the Quaffle) through hoops on either end of a large grassy pitch.”

Quidditch played by muggles, or non-wizards, looks more like a mixture of dodgeball, soccer, basketball, and flag football.

“What makes it difficult is holding a broom between your legs and only being able to use one hand for throwing and catching,” sophomore Hernan Martinez said.

At practices, players run drills practicing how to throw the ball with one hand, as well as how to run with their broomsticks.

According to Sutliff, Quidditch motivates people who wouldn’t normally be playing sports to become active.

The idea for the Quidditch team began when, as a freshman, Sutliff posted as her Facebook status, “Who wants to make a Quidditch team?” She received a few joking responses but the next year she and Locust started to get serious about the club.

“No one took us seriously in the beginning,” said Locust, who called muggle Quidditch “a beast of a game.”

This semester they became an official student organization with Locust as president, or “Headmaster,” and Sutliff as captain of the team, or “Head of Gryffindor House.”

Muggle Quidditch  (MQUM) is registered with 78 total members on the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO) website. The group is still in the process of becoming an official club sport.

The Quidditch craze, however, extends further than just the University of Miami.

According to the International Quidditch Association (IQA) website, muggle Quidditch first began as a sport at Middleburry College, in Vermont. Now the sport is active in more than 700 high school and college campuses around the world.

At UM, the club is currently working toward becoming an official club sport with the Sports & Recreational Interest Club Federation (SRICF), so that they can have time on the IM fields for free.

They are currently competing for time and space with the already established lacrosse, frisbee, soccer and rugby club teams.

“It’s definitely a hard sell to convince people that we’re a competitive club sport,” Locust said. “We’re not just a club of people that love Harry Potter, we’re a serious sport and we’re not trying to hide who we are.”

And the club’s record already makes this evident. Last year, they muggle Quidditch team won the Swamp Cup in Gainesville, making them an automatic bid for the Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup in New York City in November.