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Quidditch Comes Down to Earth

BU Quidditch team heads to Middlebury with an eye on the World Cup

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The BU Quidditch team will participate in the third annual Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup on Sunday at Middlebury College in Vermont. In the video above, team members demonstrate how Muggle Quidditch is played.

J. K. Rowling may have finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows more than two years ago, but the boy wizard remains as popular as ever. At BU, fans celebrate the series by playing an earthbound version of Quidditch, the international sport of the wizarding world.

Last October, eight members of the BU Quidditch team traveled to Middlebury College to compete in the second annual Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup. The newly formed team boasted plenty of enthusiasm, but fewer skills. After losing one game to Emerson and another to Louisiana State, BU was eliminated.

On Sunday, players will head to Vermont for a second time. This year, they plan to win. “We’ve recruited a group of hardworking, dedicated students who really care a lot about this game,” says beater Mike Platco (CFA’11), Quidditch president. “We play hard, and we’re ready for Middlebury.”

In the fictional version of the game, players zoom through the air on broomsticks, using balls to score points and knock one another off course. But the real-world variation is bound by the laws of gravity. Players run (on the ground) holding a broom between their legs. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and just as awkward.

The BU team has been beefing up its talent for the past year. Membership has more than doubled (from 8 to 20), practices are twice a week, and last spring, players competed in skirmishes against downtown rival Emerson, as well as Middlebury, and UMass Amherst. “We’ve really improved our passing skills and game strategies since last year,” says chaser Meredith Withelder (CAS’12). “I think we’ve finally realized our potential as a team.”

“Our strategy to win this weekend is to focus on clean passing and smart defense,” adds Anna Mitkevicius (CAS’11). “We’ve really improved on working the ball down the field through a series of passes, instead of one person sprinting down the field with the ball.”

Muggle (Rowling’s word for nonmagical people) Quidditch originated in 2005, when Middlebury alum Alex Benepe adapted the game. Its popularity quickly spread, and today more than 150 colleges throughout the United States have Quidditch teams.

For the past two years, Middlebury College has captured the coveted World Cup. But the competition is tough this year, with 24 other schools competing. “This is our chance to knock Middlebury off their brooms,” Platco says. “It’s time for Boston University to be the International Quidditch World Cup champions.”

The third annual Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 25, at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt. Admission is free. More information is available here. To find out more about Boston University Quidditch, visit the team’s Facebook page. Check out the video above on BU Today‘s Facebook page.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu. Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.

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