For the third time since its creation in 2012, the Ohio University Quidditch Club made it to the U.S. Quidditch Cup this year.
The eleventh U.S. Quidditch Cup took place in Round Rock, Texas — the “sports capital of Texas” — on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend-long event featured 88 U.S. Quidditch teams.
The OU Quidditch Club played its first pool Saturday with a total of four games. It won its first game at the national level for the first time, but it didn’t win any more.
Quidditch was originally created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. It is a fantastical sport in which players fly around on broomsticks, scoring goals and avoiding bludgers hit by other players. The game ends when an constantly moving ball called the snitch is caught.
Real-life Quidditch began in 2005 at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. Unlike the series, players don’t fly around in real-life Quidditch games, nor are there flying balls roaming around of their own accord. Players carry short brooms in between their legs and run around trying to score points. The snitch, which is depicted as a tiny golden ball with wings in the series, is actually just a player who has a sock-covered tennis ball tied to their shorts.
Tyler Wilkinson, a senior studying health services administration, said he appreciated the chance to attend nationals because reaching that level legitimized the collegiate team and Quidditch itself.
“It means that we’re proving ourselves,” he said.
Savannah Heller, president of the OU Quidditch Club, said the team had to transfer to the mid-Atlantic regionals in Pittsburgh because it couldn’t make the scheduled competition for its division. Still, the team placed third and qualified for nationals.
The OU Quidditch Club last made it to nationals during the 2015-16 academic year when Heller was a freshman.
“I was just blown away by the teams,” Heller, a junior studying film, said.
Back then, the team had to compete against what she describes as the “pool of death” because there were two regional champions, a regional runner-up and the team that won the national championship that year, all in the same category to compete with.
Going into nationals, Heller wanted players to focus more on strategy than using raw athleticism to their advantage.
Ally Meyer, a freshman studying music production and recording industry, wants Quidditch to be taken as seriously as conventional sports, such as football and basketball. The sport can get very physical, and it requires skill. The team has been working on running more plays to work on team strengths and not just individual skills.
However, the OU team can play aggressively during games because they don’t shy away from contact, she said.
“Everybody likes to tackle,” Meyer said. “We’re not afraid of contact.”
Meyer wishes the team had done a bit better during nationals, but the players supported each other after the final loss.
“After our last game … we all just kind of broke down and started sobbing,” she said. “It was just like a big hug fest.”