By ETHAN TOBIN
Nearing the end of its second full season as a collegiate recognized sports club, the University of Mary Washington’s Quidditch team continues to raise eyebrows with magnificent tournament play.
Although a young program, the hard-working and dedicated Eagles squad continues to impress opponents across the mid-Atlantic region through their dynamic abilities and tough play. The club is also in their second season as an official member of the United States Quidditch Organization, which hosts major national collegiate tournaments and determines national rankings for teams.
In their most recent competition, the Eagles traveled to the University of Virginia on March 28, where they continued to prove why they deserve to be considered a top Quidditch program in the region.
With more than a dozen schools invited to the tournament, each team had to fight their way into one playoff bracket consisting of only four spots by winning their respected pools, which consisted of four to five teams in each pool. As a part of pool C, the Eagles scored victories against the University of Virginia, William & Mary and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, convincingly defeating their opponents 110-40, 110-40 and 130-40, respectively.
After reaching the main bracket, which also included JMU, VT, UVA, the Eagles pulled a massive upset against the No. 2 seed Dukes of JMU by a score of 50-40. The Eagles lost to Virginia Tech by a score of 60-160 in the finals.
Sophomore beater, seeker and co-founder of the club Ted Stanton said he was thrilled with the outcome of the tournament even though the team was unable to capture the tournament title.
“For a team who’s light on numbers, we competed against teams who on paper had far more depth than we did,” said Stanton. “We pulled together a huge upset against JMU in the semifinals to reach the finals and the team collectively played great.”
Sophomore chaser and co-captain Quinn Ogden said he was also pleased with his team’s performance.
“Everyone played extremely hard, and for a D3 school we are continuing to make noise against quality D1 programs,” said Ogden.
Ogden, a second-year chaser for the team, sports a challenging role on the team yet enjoys taking on his responsibilities on the pitch.
“As a chaser, it is my job to carry the quaffle and score points by putting it through the hoops to score points. Achieving that task scores ten points for the team,” said Ogden.
“Being a chaser requires a large amount of speed, agility and aggression, and as for defense, it is our job to tackle opponents, intercept passes and, by any means necessary within the rules of the game, to stop the opponent from scoring.”
Aside from the chaser, other positions on the pitch include the keepers, who defend the rings from the opponent throwing balls through them to score. The beaters attempt to hit opponents with dodgeballs and protect their teammates from being hit, which would force any player on the pitch out of the game for 10 or 15 seconds. Lastly, is the seeker that attempts to catch the snitch, which is worth 50 points if successful.
Other notables on the pitch who made a difference for the Eagles in the tournament outcome included freshman chaser Hallie Heinzen and senior chaser and co-captain Riley Starrs.
Stanton expressed nothing but optimism about the club’s future.
“My hopes are to get a bid in the mid-Atlantic region for the U. S. Quidditch world cup,” said Stanton. “Last year, eleven teams from the mid-Atlantic from 80 total possible national bids were elected onto compete in the Quidditch World Cup. Our goal for the program here at UMW is to get one of those bids.”
Along with Stanton, who said he has high hopes for the club, Ogden said he is excited about the club’s future.
“I just want everyone to know that Quidditch is a ridiculously fun sport and that you shouldn’t base your perception of the sport off of a fabled image,” said Ogden. “Quidditch is an extremely physical game that also requires a lot of skill and teamwork.”
Ogden was excited to spread the good word of his club to the community.
“Our practices are open to anyone, and if you are ever curious about the sport please feel free to come out and learn,” said Ogden. “I assure you we are one of the most friendliest and accepting clubs around.”
The club practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-7 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. at the turf field adjacent to Alvey Drive. The team also meets for practice at Jefferson Square on Fridays from 3-5 p.m.