After fall break, Penn students are expected to BYOB Penn Park — bring your own broom, that is — to Penn’s first Quidditch practice.
Since its inception last month, Penn Quidditch has recruited over 25 members, Penn Quidditch founder Anjani Vedula said.
The Wharton and College junior began by determining student interest in the sport inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series through an open Facebook event. She organized an interest meeting after over 100 students responded online.
Fifteen people are needed to start a team, said Vedula, who continues to receive emails from interested students. Penn Quidditch plans to host its first practice in the form of a scrimmage at Penn Park later this month.
“I just did it on a whim … I watched videos of other colleges playing, and I thought we needed a team here,” Vedula said.
“We are starting small with maybe one or two practices a month,” she said, adding that she hopes to reach the tournament level by the spring semester.
The first International Quidditch Association, or “Muggle Quidditch,” game began at Middlebury College in 2005. There are now 319 teams in the United States.
Penn is one of the last Ivy League schools to begin an official Quidditch team, College sophomore and team captain Jeremy Berman said. All of the schools apart from Columbia and Brown universities have started Quidditch teams.
Vedula described the sport as a cross between dodgeball, rugby and water polo.
The rules for Muggle Quidditch are modeled after the fictional sport in Harry Potter, where wizards and witches compete on flying broomsticks.
Instead of flying, Muggle Quiddich players are required to hold their brooms with one hand and handle the ball with the other, with one hand on the broom at all times.
Muggle Quidditch is also distinct from its wizarding counterpart. In Harry Potter, the golden snitch is a winged ball the size of a golf ball that the “seeker” player must catch in mid-air. However, in the Muggle game, the seeker’s goal is to catch a tennis ball inside a sock which is attached to a human. The human snitch is often a cross-country runner whose goal is to sprint around the field and avoid the seeker.
“I started a Quidditch team in my high school, and it’s difficult to get the general infrastructure going,” Berman said. “If you want to start a basketball team, there are hoops everywhere, but there’s no Quidditch pitch. The hoops are expensive and difficult to make.”
The team will be applying for a grant as part of the Provost’s Year of Games.
Currently, any student or faculty member hoping to organize research or a student group relating to the Year of Games theme can apply for up to $750 from the University, Director of Academic Initiatives David Fox said.
Applicants can request funding for anything involving materials, transportation, facilities and other related fees.
Vedula and Berman hope to use grant money to fund the specific equipment needed to play Quidditch, including broomsticks, dodgeballs, volleyballs and hula hoops.
“Every Muggle in the world wants to try it but we can’t because we can’t fly or do magic,” Berman said. “This gives us a chance to do something impossible.”
In addition to scrimmages, Vedula plans to organize social events such as team dinners and fundraisers. The team will also attend the upcoming Annual Brotherly Love Quidditch Tournament in Philadelphia next weekend, along with the Quidditch World Cup in New York next month.
Video: Middlebury Quidditch Team visits Penn in 2008
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