10 schools for Quidditch seekers

Muggle Quidditch: 10 Schools that are growing the sport

Chaser, seeker, keeper, beater -- you might play any of these positions in Muggle Quidditch, the non-wizarding version of the sport from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. You need determination and stamina to ride a flightless broomstick while pursuing the snitch, who is an elusive human rather than the magical golden gizmo from the books. From all the mud, you might think it was rugby, but it's uniquely Quidditch.

This co-ed sport originated in 2005 at Middlebury College, with the first intercollegiate match against Vassar College in 2007. When the sport outgrew Middlebury's facilities, the World Cup moved to New York City with the non-profit International Quidditch Association. The IQA site shows teams all over the world, with the heaviest concentration in the U.S. The sport is "serious fun": Team USA players won gold in the UK Summer Games, and World Cup VI is scheduled for 2013 in Florida. If you can't find the train to Hogwarts, check out these 10 colleges and universities where you can learn and play the game:

  • Ball State University: Quidditch mirrors Ball State's core values of innovation, immersive learning, hands-on experience and community engagement. The Quidditch League is one of 30+ choices for sports clubs, in addition to snowboard and skiing, skydiving, martial arts, rock climbing, running, fencing, synchronized swimming, slackline, hockey and more. Ball State University Quidditch, founded in 2009, has hosted intercollegiate tournaments and goes by the team name, the Horcruxes.

  • Bowling Green State University: Located in northwest Ohio, the school is home to more than 20,000 students, including another 2,000 in Huron, Ohio. The school has 18 NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic teams for men and women, ranging from golf to gymnastics. Over 50 intramural sports offer everything from softball to whiffleball to curling. The BGSU Quidditch team, the Marauders, has hosted Quidditch outreach events for kids in the community.

  • Louisiana State University: At one point in LSU's rich history, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman served as university president. LSU supports regional culture, offering classes in Cajun French. Extracurricular events abound, from Swine Palace theater productions to canoeing, kayaking, backpacking and skiing. LSU offers traditional athletics, intramural sports and an equestrian club. Active since 2008, LSU Quidditch also shares its love of the sport with local high school students.

  • Marietta College: This private, liberal arts college in southeast Ohio dates from 1835 but has even more historic connections to the Muskingum Academy founded in 1797. The 2010-11 academic year saw enrollment of approximately 1,400 students from more than 40 states and more than 20 countries. Clubs offer far-ranging interests such as Ultimate Frisbee and Japanese animation. Marietta College Quidditch aims to bring students of diverse backgrounds together, while exemplifying leadership on the field.
  • Miami University of Ohio: This public university located in Oxford, Ohio -- and other campuses -- has a student body of about 16,000 total. The broad range of degree options includes associate and Ph.D programs. In case you wondered, the school is named after the Miami tribe of Native American Indians. Miami club sports boasts about 50 teams, ranging from Quidditch to archery, broomball, roller hockey and paint ball. Miami University Quidditch was founded in 2009, and the team has plans for intramural matches and a Phoenix Cup.

  • Middlebury College: Founded in 1800 as a liberal arts college, Middlebury hosts about 2,450 undergraduates. With 30+ NCAA varsity teams, including men's and women's hockey and lacrosse, about 28 percent of students participate in varsity sports. The school encourages physical activity and mental discipline -- and Quidditch combines the two. Muggle Quidditch started at Middlebury, but with the sport's expanded popularity, the World Cup moved with the IQA to New York City. A 2011 article in the school newspaper, "It's Quidditch Season," expresses student concerns that with the move off campus, competition has become fiercer, even brutal. See where it all began on the Middlebury Quidditch IQA page.

  • Northern Arizona University: Over 7,000 students live on the Flagstaff campus, and the school has other campuses as well as online learning options. NAU's Lumberjacks teams compete in sports like basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, soccer and swimming. Intramural sports feature dodgeball, climbing, flag football, team handball, badminton and more. The NAU Quidditch team, the Narwhals, is proud of training at 7,000 feet and coming in 3rd in the 2011 Utah Quidditch Organization Snow Cup.

  • Sam Houston State University: Founded in 1879, this state university in Huntsville, Texas, has an enrollment of approximately 17,600. Studies delve into unusual subjects like banking or golf management. Activities range from NCAA Division I athletics to the intercollegiate rodeo program, not to mention women's rugby and tournaments in traditional sports as well as horseshoes and rock, paper, scissors. And don't forget the SHSU Quidditch club.

  • St. Lawrence University: Founded in 1856 in Canton, NY, this school has been coeducational from the beginning. Among SLU alumni is "Lord of the Rings" actor Viggo Mortensen. A multitude of student activities include capoeira, cycling, figure skating and yoga. SLU Quidditch offers a fun, athletic alternative to traditional club and intramural sports, as well as a sense of community. Just weeks after its founding in 2009, the Quidditch team competed in the Third World Cup at Middlebury. In 2010 the club hosted the St. Lawrence Cup, and they outperformed Yale at the Fourth World Cup.

  • University of Rochester: Out of about 9,000 total students, more than 5,000 are full-time undergraduates. The presence of the Eastman School of Music inspires cultural events like the Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. Quidditch is one of more than 250 student clubs and organizations. University of Rochester Quidditch was founded during the 2009-2010 school year, and the Thestrals placed in the top five at the Empire Classic North East Regionals.

Quidditch thrives at these and many other schools in the country and even worldwide. Magical abilities are not required to join the Quidditch community -- just an open mind, strong legs and creative spirit.

The growing college sport of Muggle Quidditch

Photo Courtesy of Meg Stewart