ASU muggles hold first quidditch practice

Earthbound version of high-flying fictional sport popular at colleges across US

Quidditch (10-06-08)
Undeclared freshman Erik Posch looks for a target to throw his ball at during quidditch practice Saturday on the SRC fields.(Kaitlin Ochenrider / The State Press)
Published On:
Monday, October 6, 2008
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Their bludgers are dodgeballs, their quaffle is a deflated volleyball and their brooms were bought at Wal-Mart.

They can’t perform spells and they can’t fly, but a group of ASU students is bringing magic to the University by creating its first muggle quidditch team.

Quidditch is a fast-paced, high-contact, fictional sport introduced in the “Harry Potter” book series.

In the books, players attempt to throw a ball through a hoop and dodge other balls, as well as each other, while flying on broomsticks hundreds of feet in the air.

Muggles, or nonmagical people, are left to play a real-world version of the game. Known as muggle quidditch, the game is decidedly more earthbound, but it is taking off in popularity.

ASU team captain Jesse Hannah said there are more than 150 recognized quidditch teams at colleges and universities across the United States.
Hannah said he got the idea to start the team after coming across several news articles and a Facebook group about the sport, and he started gathering other players.

“I’ve been working on this for a while, so I’m glad to see it moving forward,” Hannah said.

The team held its first practice with five players Saturday.

The team members practiced throwing and catching balls while trying to get used to running with brooms.

“It’s pretty hard to learn to do stuff while holding the broom,” Hannah said. “It takes some getting used to.”

Despite the obvious lack of flight, the rules of muggle quidditch are similar to those in the “Harry Potter” series.

Three chasers catch and throw the quaffle — a volleyball that has been deflated to allow for better grip — through hoops guarded by the keeper.

Two beaters attempt to hit the opposing team’s chasers with dodgeballs, while the seeker hunts for the golden snitch, the capture of which ends the game.

The snitch, a fast, winged ball in the “Harry Potter” books, is often a person in the real-world version of the game. Usually dressed in gold, the person will roam the field until he or she is captured by the seekers.

Some schools even attach the snitch to a remote-control helicopter, Hannah said.

Hannah said he hopes to gather more members in the coming weeks so the quidditch team can become an officially recognized club at ASU and gather funding for new equipment and travel.

Eventually, he hopes the team will be able to compete in the Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup, held each year in Middlebury, Vt.

Hannah has already scheduled the team’s first game: a friendly match against UA.

“They’ve had a team for about a year, so they have a head start on us, but we have some players with experience. I hope it becomes a rivalry like football and basketball,” Hannah said.

Business communication freshman Alyssa Marescalco said she just wants to have a good time, regardless of whom the team competes against.

“People can get really competitive, but with quidditch the main point is just to have fun,” she said. “We get to bring fantasy to life and have [the book become] a reality. How cool is that?”

Reach the reporter at zachary.fowle@asu.edu.