Bolting through the fields of Himmel Park, members of the UA Quidditch team demonstrated their strength and precision as they sunk one quaffle after another into the rings on either side of the field. The team exemplified its knowledge of the famous “Harry Potter” game and its tangible reality in Tucson as it prepared for the fifth annual Western Regional Championship, set for Saturday and Sunday at the Benedict Sports Complex in Tempe, Ariz.
The team was officially established in the fall of 2012, when co-founders Jessica Goodman, a senior studying literacy, learning and leadership, and Ian Shore, a spring 2013 graduate in political science, brought the tradition of Quidditch to the UA. The sport was adapted from the fictional “Harry Potter” game that saw wizards flying around on brooms and was first founded at Middlebury College in Vermont, according to the International Quidditch Association’s website. Some members of the UA team said they’re surprised to see how large the community has become.
“There’s so many people out there in different regions,” said Goodman, who also serves as the team president. “I can go home and find a team in Texas. … Wherever you go, you connect to people so fast.”
The team attracted members quickly, soon outgrowing Highland Bowl and the UA Mall. It has since held its practices at Himmel Park.
With bludgers, brooms and a snitch in play, the UA Quidditch Team will go head-to-head with teams from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii and even Canada. The match will follow rules similar to those originally laid out by author J.K. Rowling herself.
One similarity in particular is the brutality of the game. Without a “brackium emendo” charm for instant healing, Goodman said players on the team have suffered very real injuries, including broken bones and torn ACLs, that have set the team back.
“We don’t wear any padding,” Goodman said. “You can get really hurt, so that really connects to the game [in the book].”
While the team members may not be able to fly, they are able to keep several traditions from the Harry Potter series, including basic rules that state the team should consist of a keeper, three chasers, two beaters and a seeker. Different from in the series, the snitch is a ball attached to the waistband of a neutral player who has the freedom to adopt whatever personality or quirks they wish to enforce the idea that the snitch has a mind of its own, Goodman said.
With such a large pool of teams set to attend this year’s series of matches, the UA’s team said getting a bid would say a lot about how far the team has come.
“It would be a big deal [to get a bid] because we’re kind of an underdog,” said Emily Rodela, a team member and biomedical sciences graduate student. “We’ve had some trouble with injuries and cohesion, since so many of us were new to the team this year. It would be a nice surprise, both to us and to kind of show the other teams that we’ve improved a lot since our first tournament.”
The Western Regionals provide teams with an opportunity to advance to the International Quidditch Association’s World Cup VII at North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina set for later this spring. The competitions will allow the top 11 teams to play in the World Cup, and, after missing the bid by one slot last year, the team is motivated now more than ever to earn its slot and prove itself in the World Cup, said Savio Vu, a team member, coach and pre-pharmacy sophomore.
“This year has been a struggle,” Vu said. “It has been more of a rebuilding stage. We have gotten a better chemistry, so I feel like with this Western Cup, we will be getting one of those 11 bids.”