By Robby Osborne
George Mason will début its latest collegiate sport this spring, fielding a team of gladiators and gladiatrices that will challenge the best programs in the Commonwealth. To be successful, the Patriots must be fleet-footed, show determination and above all, never let go of their broomsticks.
George Mason University introduces their first Quidditch team in the Virginia Quidditch League this spring. They will be facing off against other collegiate teams throughout the state.
Quidditch was first adapted to the field in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont from the fictional sport introduced in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. Its purpose allows those not blessed with flying brooms the ability to enjoy a full contact, co-ed sport. Since its inception, this broom-handling sport has been sweeping around the globe, with the International Quidditch Association helping to organize around 1,000 teams world wide.
GMU will take the reins in the area by hosting their own tournament.
“We are looking to have up to 16 teams with skills ranging from the regional winners (the University of Maryland) down to teams that didn’t even qualify for the World Cup VII,” coach and NYDC Capitalists member Robby May said. “This will expose GMU to a variety of skill levels and show where they stand compared to their surrounding competitors.”
Since this will be the first season for GMU, a majority of the players have never picked up a broom before, but May is unfazed. “We are training just like any other sport, working on technical skills, specifically: throwing, catching, and tackling, and teaching strategy unique to the sport using white boards, classrooms etc.”
On the collegiate level, GMU might be new to the game, but that doesn’t mean it can be counted out. “Our coaches said that for a team that just started, we are doing better than any team they’ve ever seen before,” said Arielle Flax, Quidditch. “So that’s pretty encouraging.”
A question often asked: Why Quidditch rather some other more traditional sport?
It might be that Quidditch combines the contact of Rugby, the physicality of marathon running and the rainy-day fun of Dodgeball. It might be that with each unique position, it makes the players feel like pieces on a chessboard. It might be a way to connect on a deeper level with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
It might be the progressive, co-ed “two minimum rule” in combination with the IQA’s Title IX and Three-Quarters, which allows men and women to compete on the same squads, giving the Patriots a shot at competitive glory.
Brooms up, GMU.