Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Quidditch Club up and flying this fall

By Carri Bresnahan

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Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

Quidditch, the fictional wizarding game created by J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter book series, is not a sport, according to veteran players.

Sport or not, however, the University of Massachusetts Quidditch Club hopes to succeed in qualifying for the Quidditch World Cup again this year and looks forward to scrimmaging with teams across the region, such as Wellesley College.

The UMass Quidditch Club has had a successful start this year, gaining quick popularity among incoming freshmen. According to Quidditch Club President Thomas Walsh, about half of the three-dozen players this year are either freshmen or are new to the game. This stream of incoming players has continued to build up the team from year to year since its founding in spring of 2008.

UMass Quidditch is currently a member of the Southern New England Quidditch Conference (SNEQC), which has gotten more and more competitive as Quidditch has become more popular at universities and colleges across the country and around the world.

The most important features of the game are the six hoops, three at either end of the field, and the four balls. One of these four balls, the Quaffle, is used to score goals and the other three, the Bludgers, are used to symbolically knock people off their brooms.

The team does practice with actual brooms and, if hit by a Bludger, must run back to their team’s hoops before resuming play. This is to simulate a player actually falling off of their broom.

There are seven players on the field at a time. Positions consist of Chaser, Beater, Keeper and Seeker, just as in the Harry Potter novels.

There is also a player who plays the golden Snitch, the only independently moving ball in the game. The Snitch however, whose capture determines the end of the game, is always a neutral party to maintain fairness.

Michael Ferro, a freshman, says that the hardest part about learning how to play Quidditch this year was getting used to being attacked while trying to score.

“I had to learn to pay attention to the other Chasers, but also to the Beaters,” Ferro said.
According to Ferro, his first practice was “a little intimidating and confusing.” He says he simply found Quidditch at the activities fair and thought it would be a cool thing to do.

Walsh, a sophomore, took over the presidency from his older brother Graham, who managed the team last year. Since then he has made it his mission to make practices as fun as possible. Implementing mostly fun games and scrimmages, Walsh and the other players readily admit their relaxed approach to Quidditch.

Steven Linscott, a fifth-year senior going into his fourth year on the team, said that the team is very inclusive, saying that they try to play everyone they can, even the newer players, in tournaments and scrimmages. Linscott says, from his years on the team that, “as the league got more competitive, the team reacted by taking an even more relaxed attitude.”

However, this relaxed attitude appears to be having a positive effect on UMass Quidditch. Last year, the team qualified for the Quidditch World Cup and placed 78th in the International Quidditch Association.

To qualify for the World Cup, teams must compete in tournaments through the fall. Last weekend, UMass Quidditch traveled to Boston to participate in an invitational tournament and began their climb to this year’s World Cup.

The invitational, between the SNEQC and the Massachusetts Quidditch Conference, included 15 teams and took place at Joe Moakley Field in Boston. The weekend, which was the start of the season for most teams, ended in an overall win for Boston University, the reigning regional champion.

UMass finished modestly at the invitational, suffering a loss to Clark but beating Rhode Island. If UMass Quidditch continues to do well throughout the fall, they will be asked back to the World Cup, taking place this spring in Myrtle Beach, S.C. UMass modifies the game somewhat to make it last through the winter season as well. Linscott says that they do play snow Quidditch, though he notes that practices are not as structured.

To get ready for upcoming match-ups, the players have mostly been scrimmaging in practice to get new players used to the rules of the game. UMass Quidditch practices on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays to work on their skills for tournaments.

Despite the fact that there is quite a bit of running around involved in Quidditch, Walsh is insistent that Quidditch is not a sport.

“It’s based off something that’s not real,” said Walsh. “How can it be a sport?”

Carri Bresnahan can be reached at [email protected]

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