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Quidditch At SHSU: Not Just A Fantasy Game

April 12, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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SHSU Quiddich
The game of Quidditch is not for the faint of heart. The SHSU team has developed into a notable contender and will participate in the IQA World Cup April 13-14.

 

The Sam Houston State Quidditch team will be in Kissimmee, Fla., this weekend (April 13-14) participating as a Division 2 team in the International Quidditch Association World Cup VI.

For those only familiar with the traditional sports for which Texas is so well known—football, rodeo, baseball, golf, etc.—the game of Quidditch may seem a bit…well, odd.

Players running around on broomsticks, the use of deflated balls, and snitches trying to escape the grasps of both teams—the sport has a funny name and is more easily recognized by those who have read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies than those who consider themselves true sports fans.

“Some athletes from other sports who have not played Quidditch don’t take it seriously,” said Helene Barrera, one of the SHSU team’s historians from Round Rock who plays the position of chaser.

“But it’s a full contact sport,” she said. “There is tackling; we do hit hard, and we don’t wear padding. It really is very serious, and we take it seriously.”

And then, there are those broomsticks, which actually makes playing Quidditch much harder than other sports, according to Barrera.

“You have to do everything one-handed,” she said. “In football and other sports, you can catch the ball with both hands. In Quidditch, you can only catch the ball with one hand, and you can only tackle using one arm, so it really makes it a lot more challenging.”

Although very young, the sport has shown tremendous growth in popularity world wide in less than a decade. Quidditch was created in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont and the first World Cup, held as an intercollegiate match between Middlebury and Vassar College, took place in 2007. The next year, 12 schools participated in the World Cup, including one from Canada. This year, more than 1,500 players representing 80 teams from around the world will be in Kissimmee for the event.

“The International Quidditch Association is headquartered in New York,” Barrera said. “There are rules just like in any other sport, a rule book committee, referee training—all sorts of things.”

Barrera leaned about SHSU’s team during New Student Orientation before her freshman year.

“When I went to the organizations fair, I met a couple of people from the team and they were talking about Quidditch at SHSU,” she said. “They were really nice, so I came out to see what it was about, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

One of the appealing things about the sport, Barrera said, is how inclusive it is of a wide variety of backgrounds.

“I’m a music therapy major, but we also have biology majors, psychology majors, criminal justice majors—it’s incredible how we’ve all come together,” she said.

However, the diversity is probably most noticeable in the sports backgrounds of the players.

“We have people who’ve never played a sport in their lives, and then we have those who have played sports their entire lives,” she said. “They’ve played soccer, football, basketball, and other sports as well. It’s amazing to see what each person brings to the sport from their individual experiences.”

Quidditch is co-ed, and one might wonder if any mercy is shown to the female players.

“It’s up to the guys,” Barrera said. “The bigger guys don’t need to use their full body strength when they are tackling the girls, so sometimes I think they hold back. But we girls understand that we have made the decision to play, and there is a risk factor of injury involved. I’m pretty fast, so it hasn’t been a problem for me. We girls hang in there.”

SHSU is in one of the toughest regions—the Southwest—in the nation. The region includes teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas and includes No. 1 world-ranked Texas A&M, second ranked University of Texas-Austin, and sixth ranked Baylor. Yes, sports fans—Quidditch is real in Texas.

“We compete against those teams pretty much at every tournament,” Barrera said. “A lot of times, it’s difficult and can be a bit discouraging because they’re so good. But it also helps us a lot. We are used to playing these difficult teams, so when we play other teams from other regions, it’s better.”

The SHSU team participated in the Southwest Regionals, which determined which teams would qualify to play in the Division I bracket for the World Cup. Although they came close to qualifying, they “lost by a snitch,” Barrera said.

“But we are going to the World Cup as a D2 team, and we hope to place in one of the top D2 spots since we are used to playing at a higher level,” she said.

In addition to playing competitively, the SHSU team has conducted a “Kidditch” event at Huntsville Intermediate School.

“Kidditch is the children’s version of Quidditch,” Barrera said. “I’m not sure how much the kids knew about the game, but they really liked it. It was held in conjunction with a book fair, so there was a lot of Harry Potter material around. I’ve heard of Kidditch programs set up in several elementary schools around the country. It’s a wonderful fitness activity.”

The SHSU Quidditch team has official club sports status, but funding doesn’t cover all their expenses. To supplement their costs, the team has bake sales in the LSC Mall Area almost every week throughout the year. Team members also pay dues and the team accepts donations from supporters. Donations can be made for the team’s travel to the World Cup at http://fundly.com/shsu-quidditch-fundraiser through April 14.

For more information about the SHSU Quidditch team, visit their Facebook page.

 

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