By CARTER WALLER
Quidditch is for real, and it’s real at the University of Mary Washington.
Other Virginia institutions with quidditch teams include the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University and the College of William & Mary.
The UMW team joined the Mid-Atlantic region of the International Quidditch Association (IQA) earlier this semester, according to co-captain Alex Stoneburner.
“We’re always looking for more players. A full roster needs 21 players, and we have 17,” Stoneburner said.
Stoneburner and freshmen Ted Stanton are co-captains, and played significant roles in the creation of the club. They do not have a captain or coach on the team, but show little concern.
“We are the coaches,” Stoneburner said, referring to all of the team’s players.
The team consists of many students with little quidditch experience and some with no experience at all. Still, the team holds four practices every week on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and will host the Richmond Community Team on Jefferson Square on Saturday, Nov. 9.
“I’ve been following the sport since 2007, but was never part of a team until now,” Stanton said.
Stoneburner himself had not played until earlier this summer.
“I just started this summer, when I played with the University of Pittsburgh’s quidditch team,” Stoneburner said. “I was on varsity track and softball in high school, but did not want to continue with them though I still wanted to stay active.”
Quidditch continues its rise in popularity in the U.S. after it was founded in 2005 by former Salisbury College student Xander Manshel.
In January 2013, the sport was televised for the first time, featuring a match between Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo.
The game’s rules are based off J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, but there are certainly differences. There is no magical golden snitch, nor flying brooms. Instead, the brooms are replaced with white sticks that are tucked between a player’s legs as they run.
A person dressed in yellow replaces the golden snitch, and that player can do almost anything to prevent the capture of the Snitch inside of the flag attached to them.
Those who play as the golden snitch do desperate things to stop a seeker, according to Stoneburner. She once saw someone throw a milkshake at a seeker in an attempt to deter them.
The game does offer a serious side though, as it is still a contact sport. Players are allowed to freely body up and out muscle their opponents, and the stick is a handicap to the players, according to Stanton
In the game, if a player drops their stick, they are severely penalized, as this is the replacement for players falling off their brooms in the book series.
“There are definitely people that aren’t big Harry Potter fans. Some people haven’t even read the books or seen the movies, but they still like to play. A lot of people think this club is full of Harry Potter geeks, but it’s not,” Stoneburner said.
The Quidditch Club and its members encourage anyone to join, as the team prepares for its upcoming season in the IQA.
“If you’re wanting something to do and can’t get into sports, you should definitely give this a try,” Stoneburner said.