Quidditch Flies High

December 05, 2011


Rollins students practice muggle qudditch outside The Daily Buzz studios. (Photo by Laura J. Cole)

It only seems fitting that Christian Kebbel (Class of 2012) was in Europe when he first took steps to start a quidditch team at Rollins. An athletic offshoot from the U.K.-based Harry Potter books series, the sport of muggle quidditch has gone from being a peculiar pastime born in Middlebury, Vermont in 2005 to becoming an international sensation with more than 300 teams sprouting up around the globe.

In the fall of 2010, Rollins quidditch gained official student organization status and a year later its 80 members and 14 players began an unforgettable season playing this hilarious but challenging sport on campus and at tournaments near and far.

“Muggle quidditch combines rugby, tag and dodge ball,” explained Kebbel, who is the team's commissioner and captain. “The biggest difference from the original version of quidditch, besides the lack of flying, is that we’ve turned the golden snitch into a person who is dressed in gold and possesses a talent for running. Preferably acrobatics, too.”

While catching the snitch does result in the game ending, it only awards the team 30 points instead of the 150 in the original version. The rest of the points are scored by shooting the quaffle (a volleyball) into one of three hoops on either side of the pitch without getting bashed with a bludger along the way. All this running, scoring and dodging takes place while players “ride” a broomstick.

It’s a full contact sport, says Kebbel, with players tackling, charging and stiff-arming their way to victory. Not that the aggressiveness has turned female players away. In fact, 50 percent of Rollins’ team is female which means it’s been easy meeting the International Quidditch Association (IQA) requirement of having at least three female players on the field at all times.

As a member of the IQA, the Rollins team was given the opportunity this October to play in a tournament hosted by the University of South Florida and attended by six Florida college teams. “We lost pretty bad,” reported Kebbel with a smile. “But I still consider it a major success because the amount that we improved from our first game to our last game was remarkable. In our first game we were barely communicating; by our last game we were working as a team, which gave us the foundation to go to World Cup.”

Thanks to an aggressive fundraising campaign, which included butterbeer sales, a Yule Ball, movie screenings, t-shirt sales and generous pledges from within the Rollins community, the team raised more than $5,000, all the funds they needed to send eight players to the Quidditch World Cup in New York City. 100 teams with 2,000 players as well as 15,000 spectators crowded onto the fields on Randall’s Island for the internationally renowned weekend.

Quidditch World Cup
Rollins quidditch team at the Quidditch World Cup.

“From the moment I started the club, I had a vision for us playing in the World Cup,” said Kebbel, who was thrilled and humbled by the amount of support the Rollins community gave the team in order for them to compete in the prestigious tournament. “I had never done fundraising before. It’s been a lot of work but it’s been a lot of fun.”

In the end, the Rollins quidditch team finished their inaugural fall season by losing two games and winning two games over the two chilly days in NYC. It’s been quite a ride for the team, which was given the opportunity to play muggle quidditch with actors from the Harry Potter movies when they visited The Daily Buzz show the same day that Kebbel and his team left for the World Cup.

“What I love most about our quidditch team is the tremendous passion of all its members, the joy they take in playing the game, their willingness to look a little silly and have a lot of fun, ” said Professor of English Twila Papay, the team's advisor. “Rollins scholars take their studies so seriously that it’s a pleasure to see them mingling their intellectual work with lighthearted play. Even as they struggle to learn and practice their sport, they have found that their best performances come from collaboration and shared enthusiasm.”

The spring season of muggle quidditch will begin in January and the team plans to participate in tournaments at University of Florida as well as a tournament in February in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called the Mardi Gras Carnival Cup.

“The success that we've had in just one semester has been amazing. For me, quidditch has meant experience in team-building, collaboration and sportsmanship. It's also given me friendships that I might otherwise never have had. The sport brings together men and women from all different backgrounds, ranging from lifelong athletes to bookworms who might never have played a sport in their lives. Playing on a real quidditch team,” said Kebbel, “that is truly magic.”

By Kristen Manieri

Office of Marketing & Communications
For more information, contact news@rollins.edu.

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