As warmer weather comes to Ann Arbor, students are yearning for opportunities to spend time in the long-awaited spring sun. After being cooped up inside avoiding Michigan’s harsh winters, time outside is a precious thing for many Wolverines.
Outside of many traditional D1 sports like football, hockey and basketball, some students at the University of Michigan have found hobbies and talents in other sports teams.
The Quidditch team has had much success since it was introduced to Ann Arbor in 2010. This past fall, the team won awards at multiple tournaments, including being named Michigan State University Starting Rush Champions, Penn State Nittany Invitational Champions and Great Lakes Regionals runners-up. This semester, they have also been awarded Miami University Quaffle House Cup Champions. The quidditch team will be heading to the national championship on April 23 and 24.
Rackham student Mara Hill, an MSE student in the mechanical engineering department, spoke to The Michigan Daily about their experience on the quidditch team. The rules of the game reflect those of the rules in the book, including keeping a PVC pipe between your legs as you would a broomstick and using deflated volleyballs and dodgeballs as Quaffles and Bludgers.
Hill said her favorite memory for the team was regionals during their sophomore year.
“At that time we had such a deep team, with talent and such, that we actually had two official teams at regionals … both teams did really really well …. it was just a full weekend of Quidditch and it was just so much fun,” Hill said. “It was the first time in my college career that I had a weekend where I wasn’t home, and I didn’t think about school the entire time, and I was just surrounded by that found-family sort of environment.”
The Michigan quidditch team also strives for diversity, equity and inclusion on the field, according to Hill. Quidditch teams across the world follow gender inclusivity rules, which state that no more than four of the six players on the field (less the seeker) can be of the same gender.
MagnUM, the men’s ultimate frisbee team on campus, made it to the national championships last semester and reached the semifinals for the first time in program’s history. LSA senior Theo Shapinsky, a member of MagnUM, said one of his favorite parts of being on the team was the shared sense of community.
“Being on the ultimate team here at Michigan has definitely defined my college experience,” Shapinksy said. “Pretty much all of my closest friends are on the team. No matter how close you are to someone, once you’ve been on the team, it feels like a community.”
Flywheel, the women’s ultimate frisbee team, has also reached new heights. LSA freshman Sophie Harvey said there was a communal sense of accomplishment when they beat Notre Dame to qualify for nationals this past year.
“We all went crazy. We all celebrate when someone does something cool. It’s very celebratory,” Harvey said.
Disc golf has also found a community on campus. The goal of disc golf is to throw a frisbee into a basket, guarded by chains, throughout the specially designed course, with as few throws as possible, much like regular golf.
LSA junior Andrew DeBruin founded the disc golf club at the University when he was a freshman. DeBruin said he played disc golf throughout high school, saw that there was no club at Michigan, and he wanted to create a space for disc golfers like him to get together to play.
“I noticed there wasn’t (a disc golf club) when I came to the University,” DeBruin said. “I decided that when I came to Michigan, I wanted to find other people that also love disc golf and created the club to kind of adhere to that.”
DeBruin said the club’s creation has helped unite more people in the disc golf community through the University.
“My favorite part of the club has just been getting to meet a bunch of new people,’” DeBruin said. “Many people come to Michigan having played disc golf but aren’t aware of the disc golf scene around the area. Being able to grow the sport and kind of help create those connections is something that I’ve really enjoyed seeing and being a part of.”
The disc golf club is going to be heading to North Cove, North Carolina to compete at the College Disc Golf National Championship from April 2 to April 10. DeBruin said the local community plays a large role in the opportunities of the club.
“The Throw Shop is a local disc golf shop which has provided support to help send a team from the club to the championship and wants to continue to support the growth of disc golf at the University of Michigan,” DeBruin said. “The disc golf community is amazing, and one of the best parts of the club is getting to merge students and the disc golf community.”
The Parkour Club at the University has spent the last 12 years teaching people the new sport of parkour — the sport of traversing environmental obstacles by running, climbing or leaping rapidly and efficiently. Rackham students Khalil Bryant and Ina Gjoka have been a part of the club since they were undergraduates. Bryant said the club brings people with common goals together.
“In the most simple terms, we’re kind of just a big group of people who train together,” Bryant said. “(We are) a bunch of people who like to become more agile and learn to train over obstacles and learn to get stronger.”
Part of the Parkour Club’s mission is to explore new options of movements in urban environments and develop physical and mental strength through the movements. Gjoka said one of the most rewarding aspects of the club is learning new skills with the people around her.
“There’s moments where either you’re training hard on something or someone else is really trying to get a move,” Gjoka said. “The moment when they finally get it — that’s exciting in any sport.”
The Parkour Club holds three voluntary practices every week and practices around campus to improve aspects of their movements and to strengthen their skills. Bryant said he joined the club because he always did the movement of parkour and thought there would be a club for it here.
“As a child, I was always jumping and climbing things. I kind of just never stopped,” Bryant said. “I didn’t know it was called that (parkour) until like high school. And then, when I first came here, the whole idea was like, ‘oh, there’s a club for everything’. So I was like, ‘Okay, there’s probably one for parkour.”
The Backpacking Club at the University works to bring together avid backpackers and those who are interested in backpacking. The club has two major trips, one over Fall Break and the other during Spring Break. LSA junior John Secrest said he had a great experience traveling to Big Bend National Park in Texas during Spring Break earlier this year.
“The sights were incredible, and the weather was very nice for our Spring Break,” Secrest said. “So the climate, it was just perfect.”
Though the club offers opportunities for students with limited backpacking experience to explore and better understand the sport, Secrest said his previous backpacking experiences encouraged him to continue the sport throughout college.
“I chose to join because I had had some experience hiking and some minor backpacking experience in places throughout Michigan,” Secrest said. “I wanted to continue to do that while also obviously being a student. So I thought joining the club would be a good way to actually make sure that I made time to commit to participating in backpacking.”
Besides the trips the club offers, it also fosters a community for people like Secrest to meet like-minded people who enjoy backpacking.
“I would just say like the day-to-day interactions with other people who are interested in the club, that’s pretty fulfilling to me,” Secrest said. “I just think in general being able to be with other people who are also very into what we’re trying to do is really fun.”
Editor’s note: Daily Staff Reporter Riley Hodder is a member of the Quidditch Team. Hodder did not participate in the writing of this article. Daily Staff Reporter Eli Friedman is a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team. He did not participate in the writing of this article.
Daily News Contributors Meghan Kunkle and Emiline Fahmy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.