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Students bring 'Harry Potter' sport to campus

By Jon McDaniel
On January 26, 2011

Some A&M-Commerce students were not satisfied just watching Quidditch being played in the "Harry Potter" films; they are now playing it on campus.

People may wonder how one can play Quidditch without being able to fly, but junior Joanna Firth thinks it can be just as much fun without magic.

"Obviously, the main difference is the lack of flight," Firth said. "However, players still hold brooms between their legs, but run rather than fly. That's done to keep the sport challenging, as well as tongue-in-cheek."

Firth said the premise and rules of Muggle Quidditch are almost the same as the fantasy sport. Teams still consist of three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker. Different sized balls are still used to represent the Quaffle, which is thrown through "goals" in order to earn points, and bludgers, which are more like obstacles that are thrown at participants in the playing field.

Muggle Quidditch also includes the famed "golden snitch" in a different form.

"Rather than a ball, snitches in Muggle Quidditch are runners, wrestlers or other athletes who volunteer for the match, dress in yellow and wear a sort of ‘flag' in their trousers, which, when pulled by a seeker, indicates their capture," Firth said. "They are released one minute prior to match play, and can literally run anywhere, and do just about anything in an attempt to avoid being caught. They are often the audience favorite and are meant to be entertaining and humorous to watch. However, the sport is just as, if not more, physical than in the books and films, and it's great fun to play and watch."

A&M-Commerce is not the first school to have Quidditch on campus. A team representing the university will be competing with other schools who are members of the International Quidditch Association.

"Quidditch began in Commerce as a result of me and my roommate, A'Mari Rocheleau, hearing about how the sport existed and other universities around the world had started leagues on their campuses," Firth said. "Also, tryouts for the competitive university team to represent A&M-Commerce in tournaments with other universities will be within the next two weeks. Anyone interested in playing can join the Facebook group for the Commerce Quidditch Coalition and we will place them on a team."

Some people may not have ever have watched a real game of Quidditch, but Firth thinks it can attract even more people to the sport.

"The sheer nature of the sport itself first interested me because it's like a blend of rugby, soccer, polo and field hockey," Firth said. "All play occurs at the Cain Sports Complex, as a standard soccer field can be easily modified for match play. We also have a set of goal hoops to be used by the league for all matches and practices. It's truly hard to describe, but anyone who has seen a match knows that it's much more physical and difficult than would be expected. Plus, it's extremely fun and a wonderful workout."

Junior Douglas Boney said he can get quite a workout from playing.

"I started to play when I noticed a lot of people playing, and seeing how it was a mixture of many different sports and a great way to exercise," Boney said. "For people unfamiliar with playing, it's a great way to play all the sports when you can't decide on just one sport."

Firth said the new sport has already grown to a significant size.

"We now we have approximately 60-70 people in the league, with five to six teams," Firth said. "Each team has 10-13 people and is expected to practice on their own schedule, as determined by their captain. It's really great to see everyone joining together to try something new and exciting. We're all making new friends, and it's such a fun way to get to know other students by enjoying a similar activity."

Sophomore Kathleen Kintz said the sport is not that difficult once students become accustomed to it.

"It's actually not that hard once you get used to it," she said. "It's the catching and throwing with one hand that's hard. I'm not actually sure how many people are doing Quidditch, but there are nine people on my team and we generally practice twice a week."

Firth said she thinks the sport has plenty of room to grow on campus.

"We of course would love to see Quidditch here at A&M-Commerce continue to grow, but have already been so impressed by the fast growth of the Commerce Quidditch Coalition," she said. "Although match play is set to begin in the next few weeks, we're expecting a nice turnout, as it is an extremely entertaining sport to watch, whether you've read the books or not."

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