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UNC Quidditch team seeks to make Potter proud

Group to seek club sport status

UNC senior Dave Matney (left) guards Stephone White from scoring during a practice for the Chapel Hill Quidditch team Monday night.
UNC senior Dave Matney (left) guards Stephone White from scoring during a practice for the Chapel Hill Quidditch team Monday night.

The magic of sport is taken more seriously by some than others.

Quidditch, an adaptation of the wizard sport in author J.K. Rowling’s worldwide phenomenon, the Harry Potter series, has grown in popularity on college campuses.

Now, a group of students are trying to start a team at UNC. While players lack the ability to fly through the air, it doesn’t stop them from keeping the sport true to form, sprinting around the field on broomsticks and wearing capes.

After starting at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005, the sport has exploded to include 226 registered teams with the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association, the governing body of the sport. College teams now have organized matches culminating with a Quidditch World Cup.

Junior Laura Cox, captain of the Chapel Hill Qudditch team, decided to start the team after starting one at UNC-Charlotte and transferring.

Seeking out other Potter fans or simply interested students, Cox hung flyers around campus and Franklin Street advertising tryouts.

“It was more like a tryout to try out Quidditch. We wanted to get people to come and see if they were interested,” Cox said.

Most of the members found out about the team through the Chapel Hill Quidditch group on Facebook and saw it as an opportunity to connect with other fans.

“I don’t play sports, but I wanted to find a sport I was passionate about and I feel passionate about Quidditch,” junior Liz Wilson said.

The game consists of seven players on each team — as many as 14 players have showed up for practice — with one neutral player designated as the Snitch. Each position has a responsibility.

Three chasers attempt to score the Quaffle, a deflated soccer ball, through three raised hoops for 10 points. A keeper guards goals of varying heights.

Beaters prowl the playing field and try to pick off unsuspecting opponents with dodgeballs, or Bludgers.

The chasers pursue the Snitch, an elusive golden ball with wings in the wizarding world, or, in the adapted game, a cross county runner who does his best to elude his potential captors.

Capturing the Snitch scores 150 points and ends the match.

The team is hoping to hold two practices a week and apply to become a club sport next year, eventually competing in matches with other schools.

Cox said they have a long way to go before they begin competing. Not all players have brooms, substituting a PVC pipe or a Swiffer Duster instead.

“I was never too coordinated enough to play soccer, but I can run with a broom between my legs,” said recent graduate Stephone White.

A team name also needs to be selected. “Old Well Wizards” is a top choice.

They are always looking for new players, and Cox said she encourages anyone interested to come and play.

“It’s been growing. I’ve had people e-mail me about coming to watch games and when we are going to be playing other schools,” Cox said.

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