When the University of Missouri left the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference, it effectively ended one of the biggest rivalries in college sports.
But, at least one MU club sport is making sure that rivalry lives on.
The MU club quidditch team played the University of Kansas’ club quidditch team on Saturday, September 30, 2017. MU beat KU 2-1 in a three games series, continuing a two-year winning streak.
The game of quidditch was first imagined in Harry Potter. In the books and movies, players fly around on broomsticks while trying to score by throwing a ball into a hoop. Ultimately, the player “the snitch” is trying to catch a small flying ball to end the game.
In recent years, the game was adapted from its fantastical beginnings and transformed into a real sport. There are college and adult teams scattered throughout the country.
And it’s an official club sport at MU.
In real life, quidditch players don’t fly. They use a skinny piece of PVC pipe and hold it in between their legs like they would a broom, David Becker, an MU student, says. Becker has been playing quidditch since his freshman year, and he is one of three captains on the team.
“When quidditch first started about 11 years ago, there were a lot of capes. I think goggles were mandatory. They used actual brooms with bristles. It was much more of a cosplay experience,” Becker says.
The pipe is an added challenge in the sport, comparable to dribbling in basketball, Becker says.
Kaylee Skistimas, another one of the three captains on the team, says it’s hard to be taken seriously as an athlete when your sport is quidditch.
“It stops bothering you after a while, because people’s only problem is the broom,” Skistimas says. “I mean, I would love to take the broom out and be taken seriously, but I don’t get to make those decisions.”
Skistimas says even though quidditch’s beginnings were fantastical, quidditch is just as legitimate as any other sport.
“We don’t think we’re out here cosplaying or larping. I just wish people would give it like one or two days of actually doing it before they judged it for being strange or weird,” Skistimas says.
Quidditch is a physical game. It looks like a combination of rugby, dodgeball and tag. It’s all played on a field smaller than a soccer field, and there’s a lot of contact like pushing and shoving.
“When you get out there and watch, its looks like organized chaos. There are three different games going on on one field at once, but they all kind of mesh together into one cohesive unit,” Becker says.
Becker says the team has to fight for recognition because of the sport they play, and that has affected how they have grown together as a team.
“Off the field it’s a sense of community you really don’t find in other sports because of how much we’ve had to fight for recognition to be what we are right now,” Becker says.
The team has been recognized nationally because of their success. Last season, the MU club quidditch team took first place in the Midwest region and third place nationally.
This year, Skistimas says, the team is fighting for the top spot in the nation.
Erin McKinstry produced Off the Clock this week. Music comes from Blue Dot Sessions (Tuck and Point, available under CC BY-NC 4.0).