FAU Owls headed to International Quidditch World Cup

Chastity Pascoe

After only two years of its existence, one of FAU’s newest sports clubs headed to its sport’s international world cup.

This year, for the first time, FAU’s quidditch team — the FAU Owls — competed in the International Quidditch World Cup. Quidditch is the fictional sport from the Harry Potter series that was adapted into a co-ed, full contact sport by Xandel Manshel, who at the time was a freshman at Middlebury College in Vermont. This year’s world cup took place April 13 through 14 at Austin-Tindall Park in Kissimmee, Fla. The competition is comprised of 80 out of more than 1,300 quidditch teams worldwide — and the FAU Owls made the cut.

The world cup consists of two divisions: Division 1, the top 60 teams, and Division 2, 20 teams selected via first-come, first-serve registration system). After nearly missing a Division 1 seat, the FAU Owls were lucky to get hold of one of the limited Division 2 spots.

“At regionals, in order to qualify for a Division 1 spot at the World Cup, your team had to place top six, our team placed seventh. So we lost our D1 spot,” said Adele Lashley, the team’s vice president, who plays the position of chaser, beater, and sometimes seeker. Teams had to register for a Division 2 spot between 6:00 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., leaving the FAU Owls and the hundreds of other interested teams with only 15 minutes to clench one of the exclusive division two spots.

And qualifying was only the beginning of the FAU Owls’ troubles.

“The biggest issues, however, was paying the team registration fee which was $26 per person,” said Lashley. “So for our team of 16, it was over $400. And because a lot of us are college kids with no jobs, it was hard to get the money together, but again, luck was on our side and we got all of it.”

According to Lashley, with the help of an Indiegogo — a site where people can donate money to various organizations and causes online — $430 was raised. The team also held a human vs. zombies event called FAU vs. The Undead, which raised an additional $100. Those two donations on top of the support of some of the team members’ parents left the team with more than enough money to head to Kissimmee for the World Cup.

As fast as this barely two year old team has grown, International Quidditch has grown even faster.

The sport began as an intramural activity at Middlebury College in Vermont until 2007, when the current International Quidditch Association Commissioner and World Cup Marketing Director Alex Benepe founded the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association.

The first game was played between Middlebury and Vassar College. Now there are over 1,000 quidditch teams across the globe.

The first Quidditch World Cup took place in 2005 and featured ten intramural teams. In 2010 that number increased to 46 competing teams; in 2011 it increased to 96. By 2012, the International Quidditch Association realized that there were too many teams for the World Cup to continue to be on a first-come, first-served basis, and that led to the development of the current qualification system that is being employed today, with the first regional championships (which decide the Division 1 teams) taking place in 2012.

However, Benepe doesn’t see this exponential growth as International Quidditch’s peak.

“We have a goal of making the tenth World Cup in 2017 the first exclusively international team event, in other words, each country sends one team,” said Benepe. “We hope to have at least 16 super high caliber teams attending in their national colors. In order to get there we have a ton of expansion and global growth ahead of us.”

 As quidditch grows as a worldwide association and a sport at FAU, the World Cup itself has expanded into an event that accommodates to everyone from the Potterheads — the slang term for the Harry Potter series’ most serious fans — to the curious onlookers. The event itself consists of 160 quidditch games, live Harry Potter-esque commentary, a special field set aside for children to play their own games of Quidditch, marching bands, performers for between game entertainment, an after party, and more.

 Despite their growing popularity, the International Quidditch Association and the FAU Owls Quidditch team remain an inviting and accommodating environment for all that are interested.

“The best part is the people on the team,” said Lashley. “We have all become such great friends. We’re pretty much family. But we are always, always, always accepting of new people.”

The FAU Owls ended day one of the World Cup with a 3-1 record, which placed them first in their pool for day two. The team lost to Ringling College of Art in their bracket placement game on day two, which put them in seventh place (out of 12) for the D2 Quidditch World Cup Finals.

“I am extremely proud of what we managed at World Cup,” said Lashley. “Being such a new team and this being our first World Cup [our placement] is a great accomplishment.”

For more on the International Quidditch World Cup, visit its official website. For more on the sport of Quidditch worldwide, visit the International Quidditch Association’s official website. For more on Quidditch at FAU, visit the FAU Owls Quidditch tumblr blog and their Facebook page.