A strange sight often greets students who walk past the Intramural (IM) Fields on Monday and Thursday nights: 12 athletes running around with broomsticks between their legs. Quidditch, a sport made wildly popular by the fantasy world of the Harry Potter series, accounts for this strange sight, and is one of Miami’s most competitive club sports.
The team won the South Regional Championship four years in a row from 2011-14 and finished the season ranked in the national top 25 for the last five years.
“What people think of when they think of quidditch is usually nowhere near what it actually is,” said Bernie Berges, one of the team captains. “We don’t wear capes, we don’t quote Harry Potter all the time. It’s a full contact co-ed sport played by athletes who want something a little different from the mainstream sports.”
The quidditch phenomenon has become widespread throughout the nation and the world in the past decade. The sport was founded in the U.S. in 2005 by Middlebury College and is now played by over 300 teams globally. A Bowling Green State University and University of Toledo quidditch match was even televised in 2013.
“It truly is a demanding, competitive sport,” said captain and beater Shannon Moorhead, who played on Team USA at the last Quidditch Global Games. “It takes a lot of athleticism to play at a high level.”
According to Berges, the ability to keep a broom between your legs while running, keep track of the different positions, be aware of your surroundings and even take a hit are just a few of the skills needed to play the sport. Miami’s quidditch team will demonstrate these skills in the Canes Classic tournament Saturday.
The tournament features nine of Florida’s teams and starts with pool play followed by single elimination. In last year’s Classic, the Canes were bested by Florida’s Finest quidditch in the finals, but Berges is confident in the team’s ability.
“I expect to win. We’ve traditionally been the best team in Florida, and this year we have a great blend of experienced players and really athletic rookies,” Berges said.
As for the rest of the season, Moorhead also expects great things out of her team.
“We have our rookie class, whose potential is through the roof, and we should have a very good season,” Moorhead said. “I have never been on a team with this much chemistry, where everyone can say that they’re actually friends. We really are a family.”
The Canes Classic takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the IM Fields.