Holy snitch: Tufflepuffs stun Quidditch community, finish second at World Cup

By Alex Prewitt

Published: Monday, November 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Courtesy Ian MacLellan

Austin Bening, Jebediah Silver and Rajah Reid celebrate their team’s success.

It turns out that Tufts Muggles can make magic.

At the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup this weekend, the upstart Tufflepuffs — Tufts' Quidditch team — shocked the Quidditch community with a pair of historic upsets on the single-elimination second day, ultimately finishing as the runner-up in their first-ever appearance in the tournament. 

Though the Tufflepuffs fell in the finals to Middlebury, a team that has never lost since bringing "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling's sport to the non-wizarding world in 2005, Tufts' squad officially cemented its place among the Quidditch elite.

"It was just sheer happiness, and a little bit of shock," sophomore Howie Levine said. "We never expected this to happen. We just came in hoping for the best and hoping to make it to the second day out of group play."

The Tufflepuffs did far more than just make it to Sunday; in fact, Tufts found itself under the lights at New York City's DeWitt Clinton Park, squaring off against three-time defending champion Middlebury in the championship game. With the eliminated teams cheering for an upset of Quidditch's premier juggernaut, Tufts seeker Duncan Leaf, a freshman, snagged the Golden Snitch — actually a sock-encased tennis ball tucked into the pants of a neutral runner, who can do anything from climb buildings to beat up seekers — officially ending the match.

Though the extra 30 points that came with the Snitch's capture only cut the deficit in Middlebury's 100-50 win, simply being in the finals was far more than the Tufflepuffs expected.

"We went in knowing, from previous games, that we had what it took to beat certain teams, but we didn't think that we would get this far," sophomore captain Carly Boxer said. "Going in against Middlebury, we talked about how we had made it this far, and whether we won or lost it didn't matter as long as we gave it our all."

While Middlebury's victory was hardly a surprise given its historical prowess on the national stage, not even the most experienced seer could have predicted the Tufflepuffs' Cinderella run to the championship.

No one, that is, except for sophomore Austin Bening.

"I told everyone before we came here — Tufts has a national championship team, prepare for an international one," Bening said, referring to the men's lacrosse team, which captured the school's first-ever NCAA title in the spring.

After going 2-1 on the first day and obliterating Ryerson University and America's Finest Quidditch Club by a combined 320-50, the Tufflepuffs headed into Sunday's 24-team elimination round as the 13th seed. An 80-10 win over Vermont and a win over Chestnut Hill College put Tufts up against Emerson with a semifinal berth on the line.

And that's when the magic began for the team the World Cup announcers dubbed the "Giant-Killers." 

Emerson, which finished second in last year's World Cup, held a 50-30 lead until Tufts sophomore Drew Fuchs caught the Snitch at the 16:23 mark. The bonus turned a 10-point deficit into another upset for Tufts when Fuchs snuck up behind the Snitch, who was hiding in the crowd and had his attention turned to the Emerson Seeker.

"I was jittery for the next 20 minutes," said Fuchs, recollecting his game-winning grab against Emerson. "Everyone in the Boston area wants to beat Emerson because they're so good and so physical. But we knew we could take it to them."

A similar result unfolded in the semifinals, when the Tufflepuffs took down top-seeded Pittsburgh, 50-40. Employing speed against the physically superior Pittsburgh squad, Tufts moved onto the finals after Leaf snagged the Snitch just 10 minutes into the 30-minute match.

With the championship long over, the Tufts team found itself without a ride home. After all, the Tufflepuffs had bought tickets for a 6 p.m. bus back to Medford, thinking that they would be long since ousted from the World Cup by then.

But waiting around for a few extra hours to catch a later ride — or even delaying a trip home due to limited seats on the next Megabus — seems completely justifiable in retrospect.

"[Making it to the finals] was really the only thing that would make it worth it to spend the night in the city," Bening said. "This is a bunch of people who are dedicated and committed their time to something that hasn't been given much attention or recognition by the school. It was pretty incredible."


Wed Nov 24 2010 20:19
With regards to the Snitch being a person and thus causing unfair gameplay, the responding message was just pointing out that one or two referees are on the Quidditch field at all times to make sure that the game is played fairly. They weren't comparing the Snitch to a referee or umpire. Stop being an idiot.

The bottom line is: Why the hell do you all care how other people enjoy spending their time? If you don't think other sports are supported enough on campus, get off your computer and DO something about it! Stop bashing people and organizations for doing something you don't care about. Maybe you should consider spending your time doing some good for the school. If you think Tufts sports' teams don't get enough recognition, go and organize a campus-wide event celebrating our sports program! I'm sure the entire Tufts Quidditch team would fully support it.

Thu Nov 18 2010 21:25
As much as people seem to be against Quidditch, there is nothing you can do about it but rant. Quidditch is increasing in popularity and already has over 200 colleges playing. Plus, Tufts actually recognized the achievement when sending out sports news to parents. To all you nay sayers: get used to it.
Thu Nov 18 2010 17:09
To the previous commenter:
You just compared the snitch who runs around the field to a ref who applies the rules from the sidelines.

Your sarcasm is as unbecoming to you as quidditch is to our school.

Thu Nov 18 2010 17:04
"Also (and I say this seriously), the fact that the snitch is a person removes the possibility of there being objective rules."

Umm...ever heard of a referee or an umpire?

Thu Nov 18 2010 16:48
First, stop calling people who disagree with you intolerant.

Second, I think they should have the right to play quidditch all they want. And I have a right to think that it's not worth my time nor money.

Thu Nov 18 2010 16:47
I really don't care how difficult or fun it is. I still don't respect it, and I don't think it's on the same level as actual varsity sports.

Also (and I say this seriously), the fact that the snitch is a person removes the possibility of there being objective rules.

alum 10
Thu Nov 18 2010 16:18
also, INTOLERANT? mighty big word to be using here. this is not skin color or sexual orientation, this is a choice, and when you make a choice you suffer the consequences, which in this case may mean people thinking you're an idiot for playing a fictional sport.
alum 10
Thu Nov 18 2010 16:16
oh im sorry 42, did you not read the thread whatsoever? once again, this bothers people because the tufts student population seem to celebrate these kids while not caring about the athletes who practice hard every day (something i promise you quidditch does not do as often) and work hard to represent tufts on the athletic field.

the problem here is that we call athletes "dumb jocks" but say these kids are awesome, and yet we say they are athletes as well. it isnt fair.

Thu Nov 18 2010 14:51
I could care less that Quidditch comes from harry Potter. It could come from Lord of the RIngs for all I care. What I do care about is how you are being so intolerant of what other people take pleasure from. What is your problem? Why does this bother you so much?
Thu Nov 18 2010 09:34
"I bet you think being gay is wrong too and that everyone should think exactly like you."

No, because being gay is real and actually causes so much turmoil for those who are bullied for it every day. For you to even COMPARE Harry Potter raging fanaticism (which, seems to me like some type of mental disorder) to being gay (not a choice, very real) makes me sick to my stomach. Get off your broom, take the scar off your forehead and give it a rest; it's just a book.

alum '10
Wed Nov 17 2010 16:13
quidditch seems to be a very athletic and physical activity. call it a sport, dont call it a sport, that's irrelevant to me. what bothers me the most is how much credit these students are receiving from the general student population, when the sports section of the daily is relegated to the back, and nobody turns up for soccer, football or other sports.

that's where i see a problem. you can't say "these kids are awesome for being so independent and loving harry potter etc etc" and also say "these kids are tough fierce athletes" and ALSO say "tufts athletes are big dumb jocks"

dont pretend its not the same people saying all 3 things, because it is, and it isnt fair. you cant only like a sport based on a book, and if you do, you HAVE to admit that's why you like it.

Wed Nov 17 2010 15:44
"I just don't get it. Grow up, seriously. Can I start a Rollerball team now? What about a Tron-style LightCycle battle? Maybe I should, especially if these immature students get their funding."

and here I thought I went to a school who respected others for being different. I guess I was wrong. I bet you think being gay is wrong too and that everyone should think exactly like you. I also bet you have never done anything immature in your life even at this point in your life. So sorry for offending you.

Wed Nov 17 2010 14:28
Stop being ridiculous, Quidditch is an intense sport. Perhaps it's not your average sport, but as a Quidditch player, I know it takes a lot of strength, skill, and speed to be good at Quidditch. How many of you believe that hockey is a sport? How about rugby? Soccer? Quidditch is a combination of all three, and creates a new niche for itself through its intense game play.

Now onto the team. The Tufflepuffs did an amazing job at the World Cup, and crushed nearly every team their faced. For those of you asking, yes, America's Finest (their second match) was indeed a team of Marines from the ROTC program at University of Rochester. I watched Tufts take them down with ease. It was an intense match with a lot of bruises, but it was a clear victory for Tufts.

For those of you who say that it is an "imaginary game" and think little of it, just watch it. See how intense it gets.

Stop bashing what you don't fully understand. Watch a video or two, and then comment.

Wed Nov 17 2010 12:11
I just don't get it. Grow up, seriously. Can I start a Rollerball team now? What about a Tron-style LightCycle battle? Maybe I should, especially if these immature students get their funding.
Wed Nov 17 2010 11:31
why did tufts go for the snitch to end the game if they were down 80 points?
Wed Nov 17 2010 11:18
I am sorry. Some things need to be made correct. Tufts may have beat Chestnut Hill College, but it was only a 60-50 win. NOT A 120-50 BASHING!!!!!!!!!
Wed Nov 17 2010 07:33
"Also why is everyone anonymous?"

you might consider it for yourself when typing utterly silly things:

"filming them the whole time and everyone knows that's good luck."
"the fact that Tufts is actually good at athletics "

Tue Nov 16 2010 18:31
It is fine to respect whatever sport you enjoy to play or watch. I just don't see why it is reasonable to belittle other sports just because one does not have a personal stake in it. I don't play basketball, but I don't think that it is any less of a sport because I'm not involved. Plus, how long does it take before a "sport" is recognized? Does it have to start out as stickball so that somethign like Baseball can be created?
Tue Nov 16 2010 15:51
All sports are made up. The difference between lacrosse and quidditch is that I respect lacrosse
Tue Nov 16 2010 14:43
to be fair, lacrosse is a stupid, made-up sport too
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