State College

Penn State quidditch team helps raise money for Thon

Penn State junior Joey Leone attempts to block the ball during a quidditch lesson to benefit Thon on Sunday at the Intramural Fields.
Penn State junior Joey Leone attempts to block the ball during a quidditch lesson to benefit Thon on Sunday at the Intramural Fields. psheehan@centredaily.com

This is one of those things you really had to be there to understand.

“There,” in this instance, is any one of the many offshoots of the massively popular “Harry Potter” franchise, which spans books, movies and most recently, a couple of theme parks in Florida.

It could also refer to the Penn State Intramural Fields where members of the university’s quidditch team attempted to teach a handful of Muggles the sport of kings and wizards.

If anyone likes it, they are free to join the team.

Joshua Meisenhelter

“If anyone likes it, they are free to join the team,” Joshua Meisenhelter, a Penn State junior, said.

First, a brief primer might be in order.

Quidditch is the most popular sport in the magical world — at least the one that is portrayed in author J.K. Rowling’s seven “Harry Potter” stories. It involves broomsticks and flying — and any attempt to explain further would be wasting time that could be better spent driving to the library.

The sport has since been brought down to earth, where it is overseen — at least locally — by U.S. Quidditch. There is also considerably more running and the need for a thick skin.

Meisenhelter is one of the Penn State team’s 45 regularly practicing members, a handful of whom offered lessons on Sunday in exchange for a $5 donation to the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund.

He warned that the rules of the game can be tricky to learn and that some people catch on faster than others. Meisenhelter had played soccer prior to finding quidditch and seems glad to have made the jump.

“It’s a new experience that still lets me be competitive,” Meisenhelter said.

Potential recruits were marched out onto the field and given a slender piece of PVC piping (broomsticks) to put between their legs. They then took turns launching volleyballs through hula hoops — which is harder than it sounds.

I don’t really know what to expect.

Joey Leone

The holiday and the weather might have discouraged more people from coming out to sample the sport, which involves three hoops and four balls.

Joey Leone a Penn State junior, braved the cold in the interest of trying something new. Also hailing from a soccer background, he still wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen out on the field.

“I don’t really know what to expect,” Leone said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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