By Benjamin Seidman, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 20, 2011
In the Michigan Quidditch team's second year as an organized program, it was able to upset the No. 1 Quidditch team in the world, Middlebury, in the preliminary round of the Quidditch World Cup on Nov. 12.
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The Wolverines were ranked 51st in their first-ever World Cup appearance. Founded in 2007, the International Quidditch Association’s fifth annual World Cup took place in Randalls Island, New York. A tournament-record 94 teams participated this year, hailing from countries all around the globe.
The tournament took teamwork, dedication and savvy for the Harry Potter-inspired sport.
Michigan was placed into a preliminary division with Yale, UCLA and a squad from Finland, but its first matchup was against the Middlebury powerhouse.
“Everybody came to the game expecting Middlebury to plow through us, but we were actually up 30 points before their team scored,” said Michigan coach Danica Whitfield.
The Wolverines' upset of the Panthers made them “semi-celebrities,” amongst other Quidditch programs.
Although Michigan swept its first four matches, it fell to Villanova in the first round of tournament play by a close margin.
“I think our team was phenomenal,” Whitfield said. “We really started playing as a team and that was awesome. Everybody on the team really stepped up their game.”
The rapidly growing game is played with three chasers, two beaters, and one seeker for each team. There is also a “snitch” which is usually a neutral track and field athlete dressed in yellow.
The “snitch” can run further than the confines of the oval pitch, just as Harry Potter characters chase the snitch around the surrounding Hogwarts grounds. The Michigan Quidditch team currently practices in Nichols Arboretum and can be found running on their broomsticks.
In the short time that Quidditch has arrived on campus, the team has managed to garner a rapid amount of growth.
“I think from just starting last year that Quidditch has really grown on campus.” Whitefield said, “People see the Michigan Quidditch shirts, which we sell all the time, and so there has become a really big interest.”
Eighty hopefuls showed up for try-outs, but only 21 made the cut, as per regulation.
“The people on our team are all athletes, and it’s a lot more physical than people think it is,” Whitfield said.
The team was denied when it applied to be a club sport, but it still may attend an invitation from Grand Valley for a match in February.
“Its definitely hard work but its really satisfying,” said Whitfield. “Its kind of weird when you step back and look at it and you’re like, ‘I’m playing a fictional sport.’ But then when you’re in the game its like ‘This is awesome, I’m an athlete.’ ”