Quidditch soars at Columbia


Courtesy of LOGAN JAVAGE

Chloe Streif, co-captain of the Quidditch team, practices drills to get the team prepped for future tournaments.

By Health & Sports Reporter

The broomsticks are up and flying as the Renegades Quidditch team has taken off.  

Co-captain Connor McCluskey, a junior audio arts & acoustics major, started the team last fall and is ready to lead it to new heights this semester. As reported Oct. 13 by The Chronicle, the college’s Quidditch team was created last semester after several failed attempts in years past.

“I kept nagging the Muggles Association [of Columbia] through my freshman year and since then I have been organizing and setting [the team] up,” McCluskey said. “I love the sheer madness of Quidditch. It’s such an interesting and weird sport that I just love doing it so much.”

Chloe Streif, co-captain of the Quidditch team and a freshman theatre major,  said she joined the team because she played Quidditch in high school and is a fan of the “Harry Potter” series. In addition, Streif said she wants to get rooted in the Quidditch community because she loves to teach and learn. 

“When I found out that there was a Quidditch team here at Columbia, I knew it was something I could really get involved in,” Streif said. “I would like to establish myself within the team and really get my hands and feet dirty.”

Since winter break, Streif said the team has been recruiting new members and teaching them how to play because few are familiar with the standard Quidditch rules. 

McCluskey said the team has been practicing consistently, preparing  to compete in tournaments and is getting its budget squared away for the semester.

If the team can come up with the necessary funds, it will compete with other local schools and out-of-state colleges. The team has scheduled game in DeKalb, Illinois, and at Northern Illinois and Southern Indiana State universities.

McCluskey said the rules of the game are similar to those in the official “Harry Potter” franchise. The best way to describe the game is to think of what it would be like without any of the fantasy elements, but players are still running around on brooms, he said.

“The idea is to get the quaffle, which is a deflated volleyball, through one of the three hoops on  the opposing side which is blocked by the keeper,” McCluskey said. “We have chasers trying to get the quaffle through the hoops and  keepers trying to protect the hoops.  Beaters block players and seekers try to catch the snitch.”

Team member Celeste Paed, a freshman creative writing major, said Quidditch is a great sport to offer Columbia students. She said students are always surprised that they have a team but should expect it at an arts school. 

“It is a nerdy sport,” Paed said. “But to actually play it, nerdy doesn’t cut it. You have to be physically fit and have strength. You don’t think [Quidditch] is a hard sport, but in reality you can get really hurt really quickly.”

Paed said her teammates are at a strong point where they know each other’s next moves and plays.

“As a team I would say one of our goals this semester would be forming a tighter bond,” Paed said. “We have the team part down, and now creating more of a family bond would be great.”

The team is trying something new this semester by having two separate Quidditch teams: one competitive and one casual.

“If you are someone who doesn’t know if you want to compete but really wants to play Quidditch as a hobby, then the [team] is perfect for you,” McCluskey said. 

The casual team does not require players to do much besides attend practices. However, if teammates miss an occasional practice, there is no penalty. 

“Then we have a competitive team,” McCluskey said. “These are the people we are going to ask to come to practice every day. We will have them get positions certified, get their jerseys and we will take [the competitive team] to tournaments out of state.”

According to McCluskey, the two teams are open to all students.

“If you are not a Harry Potter fan but want a sport that is different, this is exactly for you,” McCluskey said. “We can expose you to this great franchise that we really do love. It’s a perfect combination of Harry Potter nerds and jocks.”

However, Streif said Columbia’s Quidditch team is also a perfect fit for fans.

“It takes something from fiction that I love so much and makes it fun and extraordinary because it came from a book and we made it real,” Streif said. “It’s also a sport, so I know that I’m doing physical activity and actually doing something that is hard work.”

McCluskey said students can tryout on Feb. 19 from 3–5 p.m. at East-West University, 816 S. Michigan Ave. The captains ask students to show up to tryouts with something that resembles a broomstick.