Keller, Martin play interschool quidditch game

Posted Wednesday, May. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A closer look Muggle Quidditch, governed by the International Quidditch Association (, adheres as closely as possible to the sport played between the four fictional Houses at Hogwarts. Three chasers try to score goals with the quaffle (often a deflated volleyball) through one of three goal hoops protected by the other team’s keeper. Meanwhile, two beaters attempt to force opposing chasers to drop the quaffle by hitting them with bludgers (usually dodge balls). Finally, the seeker of each team tries to capture the snitch, which in the muggle version is carried in the waistband of a fleet-footed snitch runner, who is a neutral player. Catching the snitch ends the game and grants the capturing side 30 points.

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Teams from Keller and Arlington Martin high schools met last Friday to shoot goals with the quaffle and chase the snitch.

The game is called muggle quidditch, and it’s the closest that nonmagical athletes can get to playing the broomstick-mounted sport featured in the Harry Potter novels and movies.

In what was likely the first-ever quidditch game played between two North Texas high school teams, the Indians won the best-of-three match 2-0 on the strength of a pair of Snitch captures.

Keller had the advantage of experience — its quidditch program started four years ago, while Martin’s team has only been scrimmaging since February.

“Honestly, I was kind of OK with [the loss] because this is the first time we’ve officially played another school,” said Dillon Anton, Martin chaser/seeker.

Cailyn Culp, a Slytherin House fan and senior chaser for Martin, added, “It was really cool to find out that there’s another high school that plays quidditch as well.”

For Keller junior utility player Alise Zerull, the game was just about having fun. “For me, I think it’s just about being able to be out here with everybody else, having a really good time and being like, competitive and stuff.”

A sport?

Players, who must remain on their brooms throughout the match, find themselves running up and down the pitch, throwing, catching and shooting the quaffle, dodging bludgers, chasing the snitch and even tackling opponents.

“Whether anybody wants to call it a sport, it is,” said David Clemmons, sponsor of the Keller team.

Martin quidditch sponsor and English teacher Molley Haney agrees. “To me, it’s much more of a sport than I ever thought it would be. We played a faculty versus student match last week; one time down the field and I was dying,” she said, laughing.

Tyler Harris, senior captain of the Slytherin House team at Keller, said players can suffer nasty injuries, just like in the books.

“We broke a leg a couple weeks ago,” Harris said. “So sometimes we have to modify the game, to make it safer.”

The Keller team’s “wall of pain” features photos of cuts, scrapes, bruises and several broken bones suffered by players over the years, Clemmons said.

Quidditch is also the only sport that matters for some students.

“I've gotten notes from parents over the four years we’ve done this who’ve said, ‘My kid won’t get up off the couch to do anything, but they'll get up off the couch to play quidditch,’” Clemmons said. “Our kids get in better shape over the course of the year. It’s a great workout, a great way to cross train.”

Lilabeth Martchenke, Martin beater, chafed a bit at the notion that quidditch players are really just pretending to play a sport.

“I feel like it’s actually more of a hardcore sport than it is role-playing,” she said. “Everybody thinks it's just role-playing, but it gets really rough. This entire season, we’ve been like, ‘Gosh, we’ve got to work on our cardio more, guys, we’re getting too tired during the games!’”

For boys and girls

At the game Friday, players from both teams were excited at the possibility of future matches between area high schools.

If anything resembling formal league play does emerge, quidditch will be the first high school sport to be coed by mandate, as the sport is played by rules created by the Vermont college credited with inventing it in 2005.

“In the Harry Potter books and movies by J.K. Rowling, she wrote the game as a coed sport,” Clemmons said. “When the college students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided to try to adapt the game, on the first day one of the things they wrote into the rules was that there shall be two girls on the field at all times.”

Clemmons said this is fitting for what is essentially a new sport, now ruled by the International Quidditch Association, which has had world cups almost yearly since 2007.

“The thing I like about that is that it makes it a real sport for the 21st century,” Clemmons said. “Now that girls sports and boys sports are more equivalent, it’s time for a sport like this.”

The Martin and Keller teams each feature a balance along gender lines, and a girl from Richland High School was interested enough to show up for the game despite being sick.

Spreading the magic

Zoey Berman, a Richland junior, wanted to see how muggle quidditch works at the high school level to get ready to form a team at her own school.

“I’m going to start talking to my teachers next week,” she said while watching the match. “I like it; I'm going to try to get that started.”

Her mother, Stacey Berman, said that Zoey’s tour guide at the University of Texas at Austin was the founder of the Longhorn quidditch team, which recently won the 2013 world cup.

Jake Rowe plays seeker for his college team at Texas State. He graduated from Martin last year.

“As soon as I heard they were having it, I rode my motorcycle from San Marcos just to see come and see this game.” Rowe spoke to Martin and Keller players about the Texas State quidditch program, along with a quidditch representative from the University of Texas at Arlington.

And Kathy Lyda of Colleyville showed up with a group of middle school students and parents interested in starting a middle school quidditch program.

Parents are enthusiastic about their children’s involvement. Karen Dixon, whose son Paul plays beater for Martin, said, “He asked me if I thought he was too much of a geek for playing quidditch, the very first day I was dropping him off for practice. And I said, ‘Are you kidding? I think it’s totally rockin’ awesome!’ And he said, ‘Mom, don’t ever say those words again.’”

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