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On Saturday afternoon, people passing by 34th Street between Walnut and Chestnut streets stopped at the sight of Penn students tackling each other on broomsticks.

Penn’s new Quidditch team held its first practice on Hill Field, with about 20 students sporting athletic gear and brooms organizing themselves into a scrimmage. Given the large turnout and enthusiasm for the sport inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the team’s founder Anjani Vedula said she hopes to begin team practice once a week.

Last month, the Wharton and College junior founded the Quidditch team after about 100 students responded positively to a Facebook group. Vedula, a Daily Pennsylvanian staff photographer, has applied for a grant from the Office of the Provost’s Year of Games, though she has not heard back yet. Each member on the team pitched in $8 to cover brooms, balls and goal hoops.

VIDEO: Penn Quidditch’s first scrimmage

The team created goals by duct-taping three hula hoops to three folding chairs.

“I bought the brooms at [Furniture] Lifestyle, the store next to the Bookstore,” Vedula said. “But the brooms keep breaking.”

The players have not yet determined their formal positions, Vedula said, adding she is still searching for a cross-country runner to play the snitch.

Given that it was the first scrimmage, team captain and College sophomore Jeremy Berman modified the rules before the game, emphasizing that no “head shots” were allowed. However, tackling was “encouraged.” In Muggle Quidditch the snitch often has free range, though it was confined to 34th and Walnut and the far end of Hill Field at 33rd and Chestnut, Berman said.

Even graduate students were welcome. Justin Bogart, a graduate student in chemistry played for all four of his undergraduate years on the original Quidditch team at Middlebury College in 2006. He was also a part of the committee that helped “spread the sport” to other colleges, Bogart said, adding that in 2008 a few members of the team drove down the East Coast playing for different schools, including Penn.

“It takes time to get to the tournament point,” Bogart said. “We can play, but I don’t know if we are ready to win … I hope to maybe coach [the Penn team].”

College freshmen Yusef Houamed and Hayden Dohnalek along with Wharton freshman Matt Slodden, stopped by to watch their friend Engineering freshman David Baker as the snitch. Slodden expressed interest in starting an all-athlete Quidditch team.

“I have no idea what Harry Potter is,” Dohnalek added. “But I still find this entertaining.”

“It’s more exercise than you think,” Vedula said. “We may begin conditioning practices.”

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