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Muggle Quidditch in CNY

SYRACUSE, NY.- It’s a game originally created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter book series and has been adapted into “Muggle Form.” For all you non-Harry Potter fans, open your eyes and imaginations, fantasy becomes reality as non-magical students here on the SU hill, throughout Central New York, and all across the country come together to play Quidditch. Broomsticks are mandatory. The difference between the fantasy game and the one played without magic… players run around on the brooms… instead of flying on them.

“It’s unlike any other sport I have played but it’s a combination of so many sports that you’re used to playing,” said SU Quidditch Player Ryan Govoni

The rules of Muggle Quidditch, or human Quidditch, are very similar to those outlined by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series,

“You have to adopt it for land use. You have to run with the broom in between your legs. You have to stay on your broom at all times. If you take the broom out from in between your legs you technically fall off your broom so you have to start back at your goal post,” said Govoni.

There are three chasers on each team who take the Quaffle and try to score it through the hoops. The two beaters play defense while seekers have to chase around the snitch.

The game broken down a little more:

Chasers must pass the Quaffle (white ball) and scoring points by throwing it through one of the opponent’s goals at each end. Three chasers play on a team. When a Chaser is hit by a Bludger while holding the Quaffle, he or she must drop the ball and run back to his or her own goalpost before rejoining the game.

Keepers are the goalies and block the attempts to score. One keeper plays on a team. Depending on the version of Quidditch played, Keepers can be invulnerable from being hit by the balls but in others, the keeper must freeze for a few seconds.

Beaters play defense by hitting opposing players with Bludgers, red balls. There are two Beaters on a team.

Seekers try to catch the Golden Snitch, who is a person dressed in yellow that runs around the field.

“I like to call it a combination of soccer and basketball with even a little dodge ball thrown in there. I guess a glorified game of tag in some aspect,” said Drew Shields, creator of the Syracuse University Quidditch Team.

Magic may have been crucial in the Harry Potter books but no fancy equipment is involved in Muggle Quidditch.

“I think we had to hit up the dollar store to get the brooms and home depot for the PVC stands and what not and then we just kinda grabbed a bunch of hula hoops and through them on top. It’s pretty bootleg,” said Shields.

Some players, including Chelsea Sigmond of the Syracuse University Team, love Harry Potter.

“I am a huge potter nerd,” aid Sigmond.

But others, including the creator of Quidditch at Syracuse University, started playing only after a friend started the game over summer break to impress his girlfriend.
“I didn’t really read the books I, didn’t really care about the movies but we came down there and played the game and it was pretty fun so we decided to start teams at our respective colleges the next year and its kinda turned into something that has grown and blossomed I guess,” said Shields.

Quidditch was invented at Middlebury College in Vermont and has grown internationally ever since. Here in Central New York there are teams recognized by the International Quidditch Association at Fayettville-Manlius High School, Cornell, Ithaca, SUNY-Geneseo, and here at Syracuse University.

“I got here the fall of my freshmen year which was last year and from what I understand it started about a year before that so I mean we’ve been getting a lot of new people every year so the team’s just kinda growing,” said Sigmond.

The SU teams plays at the Women’s Building Field every Sunday…

“We just usually play like pickup games it’s just a way to kill an afternoon especially on a lazy Sunday and it’s just kinda grown into a nice thing. It’s nice to see the same faces. We’ve gotten a lot of friends over the years from doing this. It’s just kinda a nice thing especially for kids their freshmen year don’t really know anybody it’s just kinda nice to get people together,” said Shields.

Ithaca and Cornell also practice on Sundays while SUNY Geneseo practices Saturday afternoons. Players say it’s more about having a good time than the rivalries between teams but that doesn’t mean things can’t get a little rough…

“Its full contact, there’s no tackling to the ground normally, you can do that if you want but there’s nothing that says you can’t grab somebody and strip them from the balls as hard as you want,” said Govoni.

The World Cup Quidditch Tournament was held in New York City this year, a big step up from the previous host city of Middlebury, Vermont. Although Syracuse was the only team from Central New York that attended and lost in the first round, they say Quidditch is more about having fun than actually winning.

“Ya know we are just a bunch of kids who come out here on a Sunday and just shoot the shit so we’re just going to go down there to see our friends that we’ve made over the years,” said Shields.

Some schools hope to make Quidditch a NCAA sport. But the Syracuse team has its doubts after the hoops they have had to go through trying to form a club team.

“I mean there’s a lot of red tape involved with trying to start something like this. We’ve always thought about becoming a club sport but there’s so much red tape and you have to sign this form/that form and you have to reserve fields. I think it’s actually too late in the year to reserve a field as a club so we realized it’s better to just come down here unofficially but i mean there’s a lot of red tape like that,” said Shields.

The teams say they have had their share of being made fun of.

“There are people who think we are nerds just running around trying to fly in our childhoods and there are other kids who just think this is the coolest thing ever so if we can help kids live out their childhood fantasies it’s just kinda nice thing to do,” said Shields.

But the bottom line of the SU Quidditch team, much like that of the Harry Potter books, is having fun.

“At the end of the day you’re playing a game where you’re running around on brooms based on a fictional sport so you can never take yourself too seriously no matter how aggressive you get, you have to kinda take a step back and realize I’m just doing this for fun,” said Shields.

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