Quidditch teams offer new perspective on Border War rivalry

The Tigers and Jayhawks want to win on the field, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be friends.
Maneater File Photo

Since Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference in 2012, fans have lamented the downscaling of the school’s historic rivalry with the University of Kansas. High-profile matchups between the Tigers and Jayhawks in NCAA sports are now few and far between, but in one club sport, the Border War is alive and thriving, as both teams figure to be national title contenders.

On Sept. 30, Missouri’s club Quidditch team took two out of three games from KU in a Quidditch exhibition series on Stankowski Field. At this stage of the season, however, these games were less about the final score and more about skill development and friendly competition.

“For us, it’s less about the Border War and more about a friendly rivalry,” Missouri senior Sarah Brewer said. “For the most part we’re friends with a lot of them; it’s more about making each other better than trying to beat the other team.”

Due to the unofficial nature of the games, the teams experimented with their lineups more than they would in a typical competitive tournament, such as regionals or nationals. Both teams’ starters played in the first game, while game two was mainly less experienced players. The final game featured players from both ends of the spectrum.

“We spread out playing time amongst all our players, versus if we were to meet them at regionals, we would take our top 21 and play them the entire time,” KU junior captain Rachel Heald said. “So today was all about getting experience for our newbies.”

Another unique feature of the exhibitions was the charged, on-campus atmosphere, as most major tournaments take place in neutral locations around the region or country.

“It’s always great playing at home,” Missouri senior captain Jacob Parker said. “You have your own fans; you’re all on your own field, so that’s great.”

The recent success of the two teams further amped up the rivalry. Last spring, the Jayhawks and Tigers both qualified for the US Quidditch Cup, the national championship tournament, with Mizzou finishing third place Kansas in ninth place overall.

“[The success of both teams] makes us want to beat the other team that much more,” Heald said. “I think it also will help both of our teams develop among the nation, since we’re in the same region and we’ll be playing each other quite a bit before regionals and nationals.”

The next possible matchup between the two teams will come on Oct. 14, when Mizzou’s B team travels to Lawrence, Kansas, for a tournament hosted by the Jayhawks. The A team, meanwhile, will travel to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, on Oct. 14 for its next competition.

At the end of the series, several players from both teams made plans to go to lunch together in Columbia, which is unheard of for opposing fans after any Missouri-Kansas competition, let alone for the players themselves. This lunch shows how the typically heated rivalry can subside for club sports, Quidditch in particular.

“[Both teams] have gotten to know each other quite a bit, so we’re pretty good friends across teams. It’s not the same type of rivalry that is for other sports,” Heald said. “It’s a healthy rivalry because we’re friends [with the people on the other side].”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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