It’s safe to say not many national champions are crowned by catching a snitch. The Texas Quidditch team, who earned a national championship last spring at the 2013 Quidditch World Cup VI in Kissimmee, Fla., has no desire to be conventional. When you are competing in a modified version of the sport from the magical world of “Harry Potter,” concessions have to be made.
“Quidditch can’t escape the fact that it’s different, but it’s the smartest game I’ve ever played and requires the most strategy,” said junior co-captain Kenny Chilton, who sealed the final match of the World Cup by catching the snitch.
That difference is what had prospective players running sprints aboard broomsticks at 9 a.m. for fall travel team tryouts. Those trying out may have been reenacting a game created in the mind of J.K. Rowling, but the media presence, which included five writers and photographers, reflected the intensity and buzz that surrounds a team preparing to defend their title.
The success of Texas Quidditch is remarkable considering they are entering just their second year as a club. As scrimmages began, it was clear that the tryouts weren’t just fans of Rowling but hopeful athletes interested in competing in a contact sport without pads.
The considerable spike in team interest can only be attributed to the 2013 team’s accomplishments.
“I didn’t know much about the team,” said Michael Duquette, one of many players who caught the eye of the captains during a scrimmage. “I just wanted to come out here, get involved and be part of something special.”
Special is appropriate when describing the 2013 quidditch champs.
After losing key pieces between the fall and spring seasons, the team was forced to come together, with everyone contributing as they advanced through the World Cup tournament. The passion that each player shares for the sport brought them together to collectively achieve their goal: a World Cup victory.
Team leaders understand that continued success is crucial to attracting new players to replace the losses from the 2013 team.
“They don’t know what it is, but they heard we won something,” said Augustine Monroe, a co-captain and social work graduate student. “The key to success this year will be building a new World Cup-caliber team, not trying to replicate the 2013 team.”
The “something” that has a once-obscure club thriving in its second year of existence, is a National Championship.
In the weeks following the victory, the team was unsure if the University would light the tower in its honor. After all, they aren’t on scholarship.
“They told us they would light the tower for us, it was just a matter of when,” said Becky Schmader, who acted as the team secretary during the 2013 season.
Two weeks after the win, the tower was lit. Although the tower lighting was in conjunction with the powerlifting and rock climbing National Championships, knowing their hard work and accomplishments had been recognized by the University was validation.
That experience is etched into the mind of last year’s quidditch team. This year, they’ll try to light it again.