The Wizengamot Quidditch Club of VCU will split into two teams this fall, with one being official and the other unofficial to include a larger variety of students interested in the sport.
President of the club and Public Relations major, Tommy McPhail said the official team will still be called Wizengamot, and the unofficial team will be known as Commonwealth Quidditch. The unofficial team will be geared towards people who would like to play without the competitive edge. McPhail said the split will help Quidditch players come together as a family.
“We found that if we offer the ability for everybody to play and truly grow … everybody kind of finds what they want within the sport,” Mcphail said.
Quidditch is a sport based on the fictional game described by author J.K. Rowling in the “Harry Potter” series. The sport began in 2005 when students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided to adapt the game to real life. Wizengamot was founded at VCU in 2008 and was the first official Quidditch team in Virginia. The University of Richmond created a team shortly afterwards, and are currently Wizengamot’s biggest rivals.
“(Quidditch) very rapidly became what it is today, in terms of a competitive, full-contact rugby-dodgeball hybrid,” McPhail said.
When he came to VCU, McPhail said he was looking for a family and a group he could give his all. A few of his friends introduced him to Quidditch, and McPhail said the sport awakened his interest in being an athlete.
“I wouldn’t consider myself an athletic person,” McPhail said. “(Quidditch) really forced me to push my own limits in terms of being healthy and competition-wise.”
The club has grown from a group of five friends, to being one of the biggest teams in Virginia. Wizengamot also gained recent fame within VCU, when McPhail was elected spring 2014 homecoming king. McPhail said he expects the turnout for fall semester tryouts to beat the record set last semester.
“Before my time it was just a handful of friends who just wanted to come out and have fun,” McPhail said. “Now it’s continually something people hear about and want to check out.”
McPhail said the team historically has not gotten a lot of financial support from VCU, so the team has paid for transportation to games out of pocket. With the upcoming US Quidditch Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship taking place in Henrico County, McPhail said Wizengamot will be able to have more representation.
“Being able to not only affordably travel, but also travel to one of the biggest events of our year right in our backyard, is going to be incredible and I’m really excited about it,” McPhail said.
Last year, Wizengamot suffered a devastating loss that prevented them from participating in the Quidditch World Cup. McPhail said this year’s focus for the club will be both being more competitive and growing closer as a family.
“I believe … in the last World Cup (rankings) we were in the top30 teams out of (more than) a thousand worldwide,” McPhail said. “This year, all of our changes are going to be geared towards being more competitive, more inclusive and more of a family than ever before.”
Tryouts for Wizengamot and Commonwealth Quidditch will take place August 30 at Petronius S. Jones Park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. More information about the club can be found through Facebook.