This weekend, students didn’t have to board the Hogwarts Express to watch some Quidditch.
On Sunday, the Penn Pygmy Puffs — Penn’s Quidditch team — hosted the Winter Wonderpuff Cup at Penn Park. The competition was between the Pygmy Puffs and three local Quidditch teams, the Philadelphia Honey Badgers, South Jersey Hellhounds and the Muhlenberg Boggarts.
On the freezing cold December morning, players sprinted toward the middle of the field, wrestling one another for the quaffle. As the game progressed, the full-on contact did not relent. With two wins and one loss, Penn came in second to the Philadelphia Honey Badgers.
For co-captain and Wharton senior Lucille Alexander, Quidditch isn’t just a hobby.
“I think that you’d find people this passionate about a lot of different sports,” Alexander said.
A mixture of rugby, lacrosse, tag and dodgeball, Quidditch is a sport adopted from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Participants score points by managing to get a deflated volleyball, or quaffle, through one of three hoops. The game ends when a member of either team manages to catch the golden snitch, a non-biased player with tennis ball attached to his or her leg. Staying true to the novels, players must keep a “broomstick,” usually a pole of some sort, between their legs.
Before the game, the teams stretched and ran down the field. Similar to soccer, players swarmed around the rival chaser attempting to score a goal. When a player did manage to get the quaffle past the rival team, the point was celebrated similarly to a touchdown in football.
Despite the full-contact and athleticism of the game, the Penn community, and many people in general, are unable to accept Quidditch as a true sport, Alexander said. She added that this causes many problems for the team, such as having limited University support and a lack of funding.
Recruiting is also difficult, with the turnover rate not as high as Alexander would like to see. Because of this, the team is focusing on building a consistent membership instead of increasing their competitiveness.
"[Quidditch takes] dedication, practice and athletic skill,” Alexander said. “It’s just like any other sport — you get out of it what you put into it.”
Penn Quidditch was founded in the fall of 2011. Somewhat of a mantra of the team is one of the team’s co-captain’s favorite quotes, reading, “It takes a very special kind of person to play Quidditch, and that’s who you want to be friends with.”
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