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University of Missouri

Wizards in Cleats

Harry Potter-inspired quidditch club churns up the turf.

Mizzou Quidditch

Mizzou Quidditch Club member David Nordwald, a senior from Liberty, Mo., eyes the goal during the Spring Breakout Tournament March 9 in Columbia. About 130 players attended the invitational event for the Harry Potter-inspired game. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

Muggles” — or nonmagical people — might witness participants galavanting across the Quad like anachronistic chimney sweeps riding brooms.

Energetic workers tidying the Columns? Nope.

It’s the Mizzou Quidditch Club, and it’s coming to a pitch near you.

Based on the supernatural game invented by author J.K. Rowling for her immensely popular Harry Potter series, quidditch adheres to most of the rules laid out in the books — minus the flying.

Teams of seven defend three hoops of varying sizes on opposite sides of the field. “Chasers” attack their opponents’ hoops with a “quaffle” (an underinflated volleyball). “Beaters” are defensemen who use “bludgers” (dodgeballs), and an unaffiliated participant called the “snitch” runs around avoiding capture. Catch the snitch and it’s 30 points for your side.

Team captain Travis Zimpfer, a senior journalism major from St. Louis, describes it as “rugby with a basketball scoring system played with dodgeballs on a very small soccer field.”

The approximately 18‐member club hosted the Spring Breakout Tournament March 9, drawing teams from Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Kansas. Before the tourney, the club threw a semiformal “Yule Ball” (another Potter-book reference) in Memorial Union’s Benton Bingham Room.

Snow melting from February’s 20‐plus inches muddied the Scott Boulevard Playfields, but the nearly 130 enthusiasts reveled in their element.

Some players want to stray away from the Harry Potter connotation because they’re afraid people won’t take the sport seriously,” says Zimpfer. “Most of us are kind of Harry Potter nerds, so you can’t really escape that.”