The UF Quiddich team might sweep their competition this weekend.
The team is nationally ranked, and 21 students are going to the U.S. Quiddich 2020 South Collegiate Regional Championship on Saturday and Sunday in Haines City, Florida. Finishing in at least second place would send the team to a national competition this April, said Brandon Spence, a 20-year-old UF digital arts and sciences junior and the team’s president.
The team won the regional championship last year, Spence said.
“I would like us to be seen as a real sport,” Spence said.
Quiddich is a co ed contact sport inspired from the popular “Harry Potter” book series by J. K. Rowling. Despite the sport’s origin, being a Harry Potter fan is not a prerequisite for playing the sport, Spence said.
In the books and movies, the “golden snitch” is a flying golden ball with wings that’s worth 150 points. In real life, however, it is a person who runs around with a yellow sock filled with a tennis ball dangling from his or her back, Spence said.
The team will compete against three of the other six Florida university Quiddich teams this weekend: University of Central Florida, Florida State University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The University of South Carolina will also be competing, Spence said.
The team has canvassed on Turlington Plaza to recruit new players, but Spence said many students are skeptical about it.
“A lot of people react to us out there like we are not legitimate or respectable as a sport,” he said.
The rest of Quiddich’s rules resemble a combination of other sports, said Jeremy Kowkabany, a 21-year-old UF astrophysics junior and the team captain.
Kowkabany said he first saw Quiddich being played outside Jennings Hall as a freshman and joined the team despite not being a “Harry Potter” fan. He has been part of the team for three years.
“I started playing because I’m a very competitive person, but I kept playing because of my teammates,” he said.
The team has improved from the disorganized and poorly funded group that existed three years ago, said Megan Cannan, a 22-year-old UF political science and sustainability studies senior.
“Back then, we didn’t even have jerseys,” she said, “We would run around in torn T-shirts.”
Cannan said she never played Quiddich before coming to college, but has since played for UF’s team, as well as the Gainesville community team, the Gainesville Siege.
In the last three years, UF’s team has received $1,000 in funding from UF RecSports. The money went toward funding team equipment and helping cover travel expenses during the 2019-2020 school year.
The team has to raise $500 and hold team community service projects to maintain its classification. The team sells T-shirts and other merchandise to meet its fundraising goals, Cannan said.
The team’s progress has linked the group in more ways than sports inspiration, Cannan said.
“Though I like Harry Potter, it was the community aspect that keeps me here,” she said.
Gabriel Turmail, a 19-year-old UF computer engineering freshman and new member of the Quiddich team, said he hopes to travel with the team to the competition and continue to grow as a member of their community.
“I knew the people who would come out three times a week to run with broomsticks between their legs are probably similar to me.”