From Quidditch to Curling

From Quidditch to Curling

By Adam Klinker and Emily Rust

There are more than 200 clubs and organizations on Creighton’s campus. While these groups encompass a wide range of interests — from Greek life to politics — here are a few sports-related activities that may surprise you.

The Golden Snitch

They don’t fly, they don’t wear robes, they don’t even have real brooms. They’ve heard all that before.

On the surface, there’s nothing magical about the brand of quidditch — the flying-broom sport detailed in J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series — played by Creighton’s very own team. But hang around the game’s players long enough and there’s certainly something enchanting at work.

“Most people have heard of quidditch, have associated it with Harry Potter, but they’ve seen it in movies with players flying on brooms, so they don’t know exactly what it looks like in real life,” says Xavier Imperial, a senior from Mililani, Hawaii, who is president of the Creighton club quidditch squad.

Sanctioned as an official club sport in the fall of 2016, Creighton’s team plays in matches and tournaments throughout the Midwest.

The game features four balls — three playground dodgeballs and a volleyball. The volleyball serves as the “quaffle,” which players attempt to toss through one of three hoops for 10 points, while the dodgeballs, called “bludgers,” are used to harass opposing players. All the while, players must maintain a straddle over “broomsticks” resembling slightly bent hockey sticks.

“It’s demanding,” says Ben Gribben, a junior from Mason City, Iowa. “It was hard to get used to at first, as much movement and activity is going on all sides of the field, but you gradually start to see the strategy. It’s full contact, all-out running. It’s a workout, both physically and mentally.”

To start a game, there are six players to a side: three chasers whose job it is to get the volleyball through one of the three hoops; two beaters, who fend off the opposing players with the bludgers; and a keeper, who provides a defense of the hoops.

Just as in the books, at the 18-minute mark of a match, the Golden Snitch is introduced, along with a seventh player for each team — the seeker, whose job it is to corral the Snitch and earn his team 50 points.

And, absent magical properties, just what does a Golden Snitch look like in earthbound quidditch?

The Snitch is a person, preferably a deft, quick one, dressed all in yellow, with a yellow tube sock stuffed with a tennis ball, tucked into the waistband of his or her shorts and dangling from the back like a tail.

“The Snitch can do whatever he wants,” Imperial said. “All part of the basic randomness of the game.”

Throwing the Rock

“The most important aspect of the game is being able to have a consistent delivery when you’re throwing the rock,” says Blake Anderson, a junior from Mequon, Wisconsin, and president of the Creighton curling club.

After playing with the Aksarben Curling Club in Omaha, Anderson was able to connect with other students to form Creighton’s own curling club. The club competes with other collegiate teams, and hosts an annual tournament in February.

Curling can be best compared to shuffleboard. One team member throws or slides the rock — a stone made of granite weighing about 40 pounds  as two other team members use brooms to hastily sweep the ice out in front to assist in the rock’s trajectory toward a target (or house) on the other side of the playing surface.

Each team throws eight rocks, trying to get them to stop at the target’s center circle, also known as the “button.” Gameplay lasts around two hours. Not recognized as a collegiate sport by the NCAA, collegiate curling is sanctioned by College Curling USA. It’s a popular sport in the Northeast, as well as in Minnesota. And it’s growing in popularity in Omaha. In November, Omaha’s Baxter Arena will host the U.S. Curling Olympic Trials.

“You don’t really need to be athletic at all, you just need to be willing to learn a new sport,” Anderson says. Players do not need to know how to skate either. Each curling sheet is pebbled before a game, a process that creates a rougher ice surface, with sneakers serving as official footwear.

This past October, Anderson hosted “learn to curl” sessions, at which Creighton students could learn about the sport. These sessions yielded about eight to nine consistent players. Curling was official sanctioned as a club at Creighton in 2016. Play resumes again in October, with tournaments lasting through March.

Never a Wasted Day

It’s a quiet Sunday morning on Carter Lake. OK, it’s not that quiet. Cars rush by on Abbott Drive and there are the intermittent sounds of planes taking off at Eppley Airfield.

But for sophomores Adam Hanna from Elkhorn, Nebraska, and Mitch Seigel from Papillion, Nebraska, officers with the Creighton Student Angler Fishing Club, aboard a bass boat in a lake offering a sterling view of the Omaha skyline, this is another piece of nirvana.

“Fishing can fix about anything,” Seigel says as he casts for the hundredth time on the rare day when neither he nor Hanna will land a bass. “Never a wasted day fishing.”

Creighton’s fishing club just completed its first year as a student organization at the University and by all lights, it was a monster catch. Boasting more than 30 members, the Student Anglers will fish eight tournaments this spring and summer, battling more established teams in the South and Midwest. Though the NCAA does not sanction bass-fishing teams, Hanna says he knows of at least one school offering fishing scholarships.

“It’s a competition, both to get anglers and to put together a good team,” he says. “If you watch a fishing tournament on TV, you get a sense of the intensity involved. There’s a rush there.”

The bass-fishing tournaments, like those on television, feature dozens of boats out on the water for six to seven hours with anglers reeling in the five biggest fish they can hook. But on a day like today, it’s just enough to put a line in the water and enjoy the leisurely elements.

“Anytime is a good time to fish,” Seigel says. “Any lake is a good place to fish.”

Both Seigel, a lifelong angler, and Hanna, who got his start as a high schooler, see the club as filling a niche at Creighton. Hanna first got the idea for a high-school fishing club, but couldn’t make it pan out. Arriving at Creighton, however, he found ready takers for the bait.

“It’s been exciting to see the response we’ve had in just one year,” says Hanna, the president and founder of the club. “We have all skill levels represented, people from all over. People see it as a good excuse to just fish.”

Next year, Hanna said the club will take on collegiate tournaments held under the banners of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and Fishing League Worldwide.

“A fishing club doesn’t seem like the kind of thing Creighton would have, being that we’re an urban campus in downtown Omaha,” he says. “But when we put the word out there, people showed up. We’re looking forward to what another few years can bring for bass fishing at Creighton.”