The University of Miami quidditch team is a top contender to win the sixth annual Quidditch World Cup, according to predictions made by the Huffington Post. University teams from Canada, Mexico, France and all over the United States will compete Saturday and Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla., in what is expected to be an intense fight for the golden trophy.
Recent predictions published in Huffington Post predicted UM will win, despite the fact that the team has never won a World Cup. The Hurricanes are currently ranked at No. 11 by the International Quidditch Association, after placing first in regionals March 1 and 2.
“We’re a strong team, and we know our region well, so we were very confident that we’d have no problem advancing,” junior Stephen Ralph said.
Ralph plays the position of keeper, who guards the three goal posts on his side of the field. He has been playing on the team since his first semester freshman year. He is looking forward to competing on Saturday.
“Our sights are far more set in the world cup championship,” Ralph said.
Junior Ali Fishman, UM’s quidditch president, is uncertain yet optimistic about the Huffington Post’s prediction.
“I don’t know, it all depends on a lot of things,” Fishman said. “I’m being optimistic, and I’m going to say yes. But, internally I’m just freaking out a little bit.”
The team was founded in spring 2010 and has been recognized as a club sport for about a year and a half.
Quidditch is a full-contact sport. It is a loose mixture of rugby and dodgeball. Fishman realizes it’s not all fun and games.
“We have teams that are basically out to hurt us,” Fishman said.
One of these teams in particular, Fishman noted, is Louisiana State University, which is currently ranked No. 28.
Fishman said there is a reason for the animosity.
“We’re just too good, and people can’t stand it,” she said.
UM quidditch has only lost two games in the past year and half, and this is the second time the team makes its way to the World Cup. Last year, it attended World Cup V in New York. Unlike previous years where anyone could sign up and attend, the 2013 World Cup teams were selected based on regional rankings. UM, which is a three-time southern regional champion, automatically qualified.
Fishman was quick to note that the game is only loosely based on the books, despite the fact that the game of quidditch is derived from J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series. Fishman also said that the stereotype that all players are Potterheads is false.
“It is completely untrue, and I want to punch anyone who says that,” she said. “Some people play because they want to play a sport, they want to exercise or they’re just Harry Potter fans.”
The sixth Quidditch World Cup will be held at the Austin-Tindall Park. The tournament will feature performances from wizard rock band Harry and the Potters and Team StarKid members Joey Richter, Brian Rosenthal and Joe Moses, who starred in “A Very Potter Musical” four years ago.
International and local teams alike have taken to the Internet this year, using IndieGoGo to raise funds to travel to the tournament. The UM team had raised $1,115 as of Wednesday evening, with a goal of $2,500.
Freshman Nina Fernandini, who has been on the team since last semester, is looking forward to being a part of this year’s World Cup.
“I’m really, really excited,” she said.
For some team members, this tournament is about making up for last year’s loss during the first bracket round in the World Cup.
“Last year we were robbed by losing far earlier than we should when we knew we were the better team,” Ralph said. “I’m very excited to get out there and play.”