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Across the Oval: Sorcery, sports, and salutations

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Members of the Ohio State Quidditch League huddle during a match. Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

Members of the Ohio State Quidditch League huddle during a match. Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

With the recent passing of Alan Rickman, remembered by “Harry Potter” fans as the character Severus Snape, people might be left longing for more magic. For all those muggles, the Quidditch League at Ohio State might be the answer.

The Quidditch League is a student organization that plays quidditch, a sport depicted in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” novels, against other schools for a chance to compete at the World Cup. It is played with brooms, balls and hoops, and there are 30-40 members, with 21 being on the A team.

“Quidditch is really like a combination of pretty much every sport imaginable,” said Mitch Boehm, a fourth-year in aerospace engineering and one of three captains for the Quidditch League.

There are seven people per team and four different positions: beaters, chasers, a seeker and a keeper, Boehm said. The game is based on rugby, with the chasers trying to score goals and fend off opponents. They use the quaffle, which is a volleyball, and either throw or kick the ball through one of their opponents’ three hoops to score points, all while having a broom straddled between their legs. The keeper is like a soccer goalie, trying to keep the ball from going through the hoops.

Boehm said that many people have misconceptions about the Quidditch League.

“I thought it would be a bunch of ‘Harry Potter’ nerds running around and everything, but it’s actually a lot more intense and it’s very physical,” he said.

Boehm came to college planning to join the running club, but he saw the Quidditch League at the involvement fair and could not believe it was real.

“I went to the first practice and never looked back,” he said.

A member of the Ohio State Quidditch League during a match against Michigan. Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

A member of the Ohio State Quidditch League during a match against Michigan. Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

The beaters use bludgers, which are dodgeballs, to hit players on the other team to put them out of play for a short time, Boehm said.

The seeker has to wrestle the snitch, who is a person with a tennis ball in a sock attached to the back of their shorts. The seeker from each team tries to get the sock, and whoever accomplishes this first scores 30 points and ends the game.

Alex Sprague, a first-year in neuroscience who has been with the club since Fall Semester, said that playing quidditch has given him great memories.

“I played almost every tournament and hadn’t scored a goal, so when I finally got that first goal, it was like I finally belonged on the team,” he said.

The club recently held its seventh annual Yule Ball on Sunday in Pomerene Hall. The Yule Ball is a formal dance featured in the fourth novel of the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

For the Quidditch League, it is a homecoming dance and the organization’s biggest fundraiser every year. The proceeds go toward getting the team to the World Cup, which is in Columbia, South Carolina, this year, Boehm said.

The event itself was just like many other dances, although the team’s hoops made an appearance as props with which people took pictures. At the end of the dance, everyone went to the middle of the dance floor and held their hands up as if they were holding wands in tribute to Rickman, who passed away on Jan. 14.

“He was a great actor who brought Snape to life in the movies better than anyone could’ve ever hoped for,” Sprague said. “He was one of the actors that made me love the ‘Harry Potter’ movies so much. It’s saddening that we will never get to see him act again, but I’m glad he lived such a great life.”

Members of the team are currently looking into other ways they can pay their respects to Rickman, such as donating to a cancer research group or sending something to Rickman’s family, Boehm said.

With the Yule Ball now over, the club plans to host an all-day tournament with teams from other schools on March 19 at Fred Beekman Park, located on 2200 Carmack Road.

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