Seven Columbia students sat crouched on one knee in front of a set of three hoops in Grant Park. When the whistle was blown, they began to run toward the center of the field while tucking a thin pole between their legs as the Quidditch game kicked off.
Columbia’s Renegades Quidditch team played a three-game tournament March 2 with losses against Loyola University Lumos Quidditch and Chicago United Quidditch Club, and a win against Iowa Quidditch Club.
Players use poles in place of brooms when playing Quidditch, inspired by J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. Quidditch was brought to the college in 2013 by audio arts and acoustics alumnus Connor McCluskey and originally offered by the Muggles Association of Columbia.
Under the U.S. Quidditch organization’s official rules, players on each team are divided into four categories: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker. Chasers are tasked with scoring goals, each worth 10 points, by throwing or kicking a ball into hoops while the beaters on the opposing team try to disrupt the chasers with their own balls. Each team has one keeper who protects their respective team’s hoops from chasers.
During Saturday’s game, Columbia players on the sideline broke into a “Let’s go Columbia” chant as junior English and creative writing major Ben Peachey sprinted down the field, holding his pole in one hand and clutching a ball with the other. He was narrowly missed by Chicago United’s beater as he threw the ball through the middle hoop and extended the score to 30-20 with Columbia in the lead.
At the 18-minute mark of the game, a snitch was released onto the field. In the “Harry Potter” series, the snitch is a small golden ball that flies quickly around the arena but in the real-life version, the snitch is a person wearing yellow shorts who runs around the field trying to evade seekers. Each team’s seeker chases the snitch until one of them is able to grab the tail on the snitch’s shorts, scoring 30 points for their team and ending the game.
About two minutes after being released onto the field in Columbia’s second game of the day, the seeker for Chicago United pulled the tail off the snitch’s shorts, winning the game for their team with a final score of 150-90.
Despite the 60-point score difference, the game was close and competitive until the last few minutes of play.
Columbia’s league was an intermural club until this season. Team coordinator and junior cinema and television arts major Ben Dib said that the transition from club to team was important as the sport grew more competitive.
Students Athletic Association President and senior business and entrepreneurship major Matt Coyle said he has always been in favor of transitioning the club into a competitive team.
“I’ve been wanting to be more competitive rather than just some nerds in Grant Park playing Quidditch,” Coyle said.
Although the team has yet to play an official U.S. Quidditch tournament, Dib said it plans to do so next year and has raised close to $1000 in hopes of traveling to U.S. Quidditch Regionals.
During its final game of the day, Columbia outscored Iowa by almost a hundred points. With the win against Iowa, Columbia closed out the tournament with one win and two losses.
“You win together, you lose together,” Dib said.