Last night, Swarthmore’s newest athletic team took home one final win to close out its regular season. The Garnet’s Quidditch squad stole the championship game from right underneath the noses of their rivals, the Hungry Hungry Hippogriffs of Middlebury College, earning themselves a spot in the conference playoffs.
After four and a half hours of play, the score was at 240 Hippogriffs, 110 Garnet. Fortunately, Seeker Nomari Fuchsia ’10 captured the Snitch and made up for the slow work of the Chasers earlier in the game, ending it with the Garnet on top, 260-240. Amid deafening cheers, Fuchsia and the 2 other seniors on the team ran off the field in tears. “I can’t believe that after just our first season, we’re doing so well against teams who’ve been playing for years,” he said. “We owe it all to Coach.”
The Quidditch team was founded last semester as part of the Athletic Department’s commitment to institutionalizing innovative sports. “It was important to us to remain on the cutting edge of athletic success,” said Athletic Department head Michelle Mallan. “The team’s success this year means that Coach Akisnas could potentially start recruiting students down the line.”
Jym Boghck, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, said that the College’s success in the new sport was a big draw for some students. “Prospective students wrote in their ‘Why Swarthmore’ essay about the college’s willingness to embrace new trends, both academically and in sports.”
Despite this, the Quidditch team’s rise has not been without controversy. With budget cuts threatening the Athletic Department, questions were raised as to how and why they decided to fund another varsity sport. “Yes, it was a gamble, but one that I think paid off in the end,” said Mallan. However, other Department faculty have not been so optimistic. They worry that the rise in popularity of a new sport may detract from their own fan bases, who would immediately seek something new, rather than other sports’ consistent winning records. One coach, who wished to stay anonymous, added, “It’s great that the Garnet is winning something else, and all, but I hope the budget people don’t see this and decide to redirect some of our funding to the new kids on the turf.”
Other faculty fear a repeat of the 1982 football season, in which the Garnet remained undefeated, but the national media’s attention was turned towards the team, and not the College’s other excellences (see NBC’s take on this season).
In terms of the student reaction, turnout reached a record high in the final game. Carl Bevin, in the box office, said, “We sold around one thousand tickets, and well over three quarters of those were to students.”
The Garnet will take the pitch again next Saturday at for their first playoff match at Amherst College.