The allure of Quidditch
Students use a little magic, innovation and leadership to mainstream new sports
By Jennifer HeslopPosted Oct 26, 2011
One of the things that makes Ohio State’s campus so remarkable is the range of student involvement opportunities. Students can share a common Buckeye spirit while participating in unique niches.
Be it a fantastical sport like Quidditch, an innovative game like Chadminton or simply going Gaga for Ga-Ga, OSU has several unique sports clubs that are making their mark on campus.
For the Quidditch League, it all began four years ago with the vision of Harry Potter lovers, like founder Carly Kestler, wishing to bring the magical sport to campus.
Since then, the group has expanded to 40 members, has competed at several locations around the country and hosted the annual Yule Ball, with more than 850 people in attendance last year. The close-knit group is currently competing at the Midwest Cup, the 18-team seeding competition for the World Cup in New York City this November.
This real-life game operates in a similar manner to the one created by author J.K. Rowling in her “Harry Potter” books — minus the flying broomsticks of course.
The game features seven players per team, which are comprised of three chasers, two beaters, the keeper and the seeker. The chasers carry a ball and attempt to throw it through the other team’s three hoops, which are defended by the keeper. The beaters try to knock the balls carried by the chasers. The game can end when someone catches the snitch, which is a person with a tennis ball in a sock in the real world.
Even without wizardry, the accessibility, devotion and charisma of such a group make it impossible to deny its appeal.
Andi Hendrickson, vice president of the Quidditch League, said the sport’s the best time you can have on a broomstick.
“It’s competitive, active, incredibly fun and actually pretty addicting,” she said. “We have become something Buckeyes are proud to say they have at their school, and people love to stop and watch us play.”
The Quidditch League is one of many unique clubs on campus, like the Chadminton team, a sport invented by OSU alumni Alex Merkert that combines lacrosse with a good old-fashioned pillow fight.
Merkert never had the opportunity to play lacrosse growing up, so he decided to build his own equipment, constructing the scoops out of jai alai throwing scoops, dowel rods and duct tape.
Each team that he devised included a player called the “Chad,” a field player armed with a pillow for protective blocks and scoring. In 2004, he brought his idea to the Ohio State campus.
The sport is now in its third season as an official student organization. Like other sports, Chadminton holds a draft winter quarter to complete a roster for the spring championship, called the Chadpionship.
The sport is spreading to other campuses as well. President Anthony Zuccarelli is excited by the sport’s recent growth beyond Ohio State.
“There is budding interested in Chadminton at the University of Oregon,” he said. “Last year, Chadminton traveled to Wittenberg for an OSU-Wittenberg match. We hope to make a similar trip to other Ohio universities this year.”
Second year player Chris White found athletic opportunities with Chadminton that he was denied in other intramural sports.
“It’s hard to find an intramural or club sport that can be competitive and fun,” he said. “I played some intramural sports last year, but I was in the ‘B’ league and was blown away by former high school all-stars who didn’t make the varsity squad. Chadminton, on the other hand, allows anyone of any athletic ability to have fun and be competitive. Due to the unique qualities of the game, each type of athlete has the chance to succeed in the sport.”
Much like Chadminton and the Quidditch League, Gaga for Ga-Ga allows all students to become involved.
Vince DiGennaro and Seth Ringel introduced the sport at Camp Buckeye and realized it was an immediate hit, so they brought the sport back to campus.
Ga-Ga is a variation of dodgeball—it involves 20-30 people and varies in the sense that the ball must be bounced first before it is in play. It also can be hit with an open hand, like in volleyball, aiming for the opponents’ legs.
“We plan on holding tournaments once every few months,” DiGennaro said. “We're currently in the process of working with other organizations to do residence hall and charity tournaments. Anything is on the table, and we really value input from our members.”
Remaining open without the exclusive competition of most intramural sports clubs, these groups focus on the friendly competition and camaraderie between their members and fans.
Henderickson summed it up perfectly: “It’s a support group, it’s a team and it’s a place people come to feel at home on such a large campus.”