Wizards of Webster: Quidditch Soars To New Heights

The Webster Quidditch team takes practice seriously. They do it outdoors on the quad, across the street at Eden, or indoors in the gym, sharing the space with basketball and volleyball players. And they do it with broomsticks between their legs.

Webster’s team, a Frankenstein pastiche of nerdiness, athleticism and wide-eyed optimism evolved from a group called the “Potterheads” officially formed in 2009. The niche activity has begun to carve out a place for itself, dominating other Quidditch teams in the area and drawing more interest than any

previous year.

For those who have been living under a rock for the last fifteen years, Quidditch is a made-up

game played by wizards in the
Harry Potter books/movies/universe, where the goal is to throw a ball (the quaffle) through one of three opposing hoops. The team without the ball can work to get it back through physical tackles or via an interception. But a player must have their stick tucked between their legs at all times, because how else could they flies, because how else could they fly?

It’s a rough sport much like rugby, which captain and sophomore Dane Davis said surprises a lot of people. In the field of play, tackling is fair, and injuries happen — Davis’ brother broke his collarbone playing Quidditch. Webster’s team has two captains. Davis joined as a way to stay active after playing football in high school. The other captain, junior Sarah Gruett, was a Harry Potter fanatic and joined out of her love of the books.  And they do more than just play; the team holds an annual “Yule Ball” and Harry Potter trivia night, in addition to practicing multiple times per week and participating in weight training.

For Davis and the rest of the team, the extra work has translated into better results on the field.

On Sept. 27, the team won their first trophy as they triumphed in the Illinois College Tournament, in which they had competed in previous years. On Nov. 8 they won another tournament, the “unofficial regional tournament” according to Davis. They’ve had the largest and most consistent turnout in the club’s history since its initial founding in 2009, averaging between 20-25 players throughout the season.

The hard surface of the roller derby rink didn’t deter the squad, even though they picked up some cuts and bruises from playing indoors. Indeed, Gruett has an affinity for bruises which fellow team member Mellisa Bufka noted.

“Her favorite color is bruise,” Bufka said.

After they had finished their intra-squad entertainment, kids from the crowd approached the team for autographs. But the team doesn’t plan on

stopping there.

Later this year, the Quidditch team will attend the pinnacle of “Qudditchdom” in the country at the Qudditch World Cup in Rock Hill, South Carolina, sponsored by United States Quidditch. The best college teams in the country travel to this competition to determine

a national champion. Although they can’t currently play due to membership fees, both Gruett and Davis agree
that certification is a goal for the
Quiddtich team.

Whether that happens in 10 years or 10 months, one of Webster’s oddest communities is unlikely to go away any time soon. Despite its initial weirdness, there seems to be a bit of magic about this niche group, and they might take flight sooner, rather than later.

Story by Dane Watkins

Photo by Lily Voss

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