Above, from left: Katie Abrams, Josh Guenther, Cade Dembski, Mikayla Bergwood, Kepler Domurat-Sousa, and Jacob McMurtry after a brooms-up call on Saturday.
East Lansing High School’s Quidditch club team had a good showing against college teams at the Spartan Starting Rush Quidditch tournament held this Saturday, September 16, at MSU’s Cherry Lane Fields.
The ELHS Trojans won their opening match against MSU’s first team 70-60 after seeker Alex Sietsema dramatically captured the snitch, giving East Lansing a walk-off, come-from-behind victory.
“Alex played great,” said teammate Dean Przybylski on Saturday night, while serving ice cream from behind the counter of a local shop.
Quidditch is a terrestrial version of the magical game depicted in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. By the rules of U.S. Quidditch, each side has seven players, with a maximum of four of a gender on the pitch at a time. (Quidditch is one of the few sports that requires co-ed play.)
Positions include chasers, beaters, and seekers. There are four balls in play at the same time—the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) and bludgers (dodgeballs). Players run around on broomsticks, generally made of PVC pipe, and most players wear cleats.
Teams score 10 points when chasers throw the quaffle through one of three hoops defended by the other side. Goals can be scored from either side of the hoops. The goals are defended by six opposing players free to use rugby-style tackles. Beaters can also throw bludgers at opposing players.
The match ends when one team’s seeker—the seventh member of the team—captures the snitch, a tennis ball in a sock Velcroed to the back of the shorts of a referee. The snitch is introduced at the eighteen-minute mark of play. The referee who wears the snitch is called the Snitch and he or she actively tries to keep that ball-in-sock away from the two seekers, making Quidditch perhaps the only sport where a referee, by the rules, participates in play. The team whose seeker grabs the snitch and rips it from the shorts of that referee scores 30 points.
In their first match on Saturday, the Trojans were down 40-60 against MSU-1 Spartans when Sietsema captured the snitch, bringing whoops of joy from the Trojan players and their fans, as the Trojans took the match 70-60.
The Trojans lost their second match of the day to Central Michigan University, 50-120. MSU Spartans played two teams, and MSU-1 came back after their earlier loss to best the Trojan’s 40-150. A community team from Ann Arbor, Lake Erie Elite, went undefeated in the tournament and beat CMU 110-10 to win the tournament. Lake Erie Elite is made up of people who have played Quidditch at the college level.
ELHS's Quidditch team, captained by Ian Dwyer and Mikayla Bergwood, has more than 20 students who participate in student-run and student-organized practices. Other players not already named above include Sarah Hoogstraten, Amelia Arnold, Ian Milne, Ian Dwyer, Zoe Baker, and Hope Dwyer. ELHS was the only high school team to play on Saturday.
“These kids have been amazing,” said spectator and ELHS Band Director Dave Larzelere. (Most of the team is also in ELHS Marching Band.) “They have put this together themselves. It’s just great.”
Disclosure: The author’s son, Kepler Domurat-Sousa, plays on the ELHS team.
Note: After publication, we corrected the spelling of one team member's name.