Quidditch, Anyone? Students Find Expressive Outlets in Special Interest Clubs

Posted: January 24, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: January 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

By Aisha Jamil

Mason’s student organizations, now numbering about 250, are as diverse as the individuals who participate in them. They aim to help students express their interests in the arts, in recreation and in social and political issues, while finding a community of fellow students who share their passions.

The variety of clubs is limited pretty much only by the imagination of the students who organize and run them. And since Mason is full of creative students, business is booming for the Office of Student Involvement, which is responsible for approving student clubs and organizations.

“We have seen an overwhelming increase in the past two years in the number of applications being submitted,” says Sara Morrisroe, assistant director for student organizations in the Office of Student Involvement.

“This is great to see, as it shows how many students are looking to build a network and community through their interests. Involvement within a student organization allows individuals to become more engaged and build a stronger connection to Mason,” she adds.

Following is a snapshot of a few of these innovative organizations.

The Art and Sport of Capoeira

Part art form, part sport, Capoeira has Afro-Peruvian roots. Photo courtesy of the Capoeira Club

Just what is this thing called Capoeira (pronounced coppa-WAY-rah)?

“It combines a lot of martial arts and acrobatics with elements of yoga and break dancing,” explains Tamara Wilkerson, a senior majoring in integrative studies who is president and co-founder of the club.

Part art form, part competitive sport, Capoeira has elements of Afro-Brazilian culture and is practiced to Portuguese music. Mason’s Capoeira Club focuses on Capoeira etiquette and movements, Wilkerson says.

Started two and a half years ago by Wilkerson and Romina Boccia, a graduate student in economics, the organization quickly gained interest from students of all backgrounds and athletic abilities, the leaders say, with some participants already experts in Capoeira, and others who didn’t even know what it was.

The Capoeira group meets twice weekly for two-hour sessions, including a 30-minute warm-up.

Capoeira is great exercise, Wilkerson points out.

“It is just a really good workout. I always come out drenched,” Wilkerson says. “Starting from the day you begin it, it increases your stamina, strength and flexibility.”

Capoeira also offers a social benefit, the organizers say.

“It enables students to connect with one another in a friendly, welcoming environment where they can form lasting friendships,” Boccia says.

For more information on the Capoeira Club, see the group’s Facebook fan page.

Jumping on the Glee Club Bandwagon

Mason’s Glee Club is one of the newest student organizations at Mason.

Inspired by the TV show “Glee,” Gabriel Lavine and Amanda Smith, started organizing the club last summer.

“It serves as a vocal and rhythmic performance group,” says Lavine, a freshman majoring in government and international politics. “Our organization is dedicated to igniting creativity and talent among members of the Mason community.”

Auditions were held at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester, and 15 students were selected to be a part of the choir. The club will hold new auditions this semester.

“We have people from all walks of life participating in Glee — athletes, sorority and fraternity members, the Marines and more,” says Chelsea Ziegler, a glee member and freshman majoring in Russian and Eurasian Studies. “This sets us apart from other groups who may cater to a specific group of people. Glee is for everyone.”

For some students, the Glee Club provides a much-needed outlet for fun and relaxation.

“After a long day of schoolwork, it feels so great to sing, dance and have a good time with people that share the same interests as you,” says Joanne Smathers, a sophomore majoring in communication.

Smith, a freshman global community health major who is vice president of the club, says, “I like the Glee Club because it is an outlet for creativity. I am thrilled to have founded such a great club, and just to see it blossom into something bigger makes me even happier.”

For more information, see the group’s Facebook fan page.

Quidditch Finds a Place at Mason

One player describes Quidditch as "athletic, nerdy and fun." Photo by Evan Cantwell

Every Friday afternoon, Mason’s Intramural Field No. 3 transforms into a sports ground for Muggle Quidditch. As fans of the Harry Potter books and movies know, Quidditch is a game played on flying broomsticks.

Mason’s version is, of course, more down-to-earth.

“We are playing a sport that is derived from someone’s imagination in an incredible sort of way,” says Arash Almasi, a senior management major.

Started at Middlebury College in 2005, the adapted game has become highly popular. More than 300 high school teams and 400 colleges are recognized by the International Quidditch Association.

Mason’s team, organized by Chloe Kingsley-Burt and Katie Dever last summer, had a difficult time gaining university approval because of the potentially dangerous physical gestures it involved.

“As seen in the films, Quidditch involves a lot of physical contact, including tackling, blocking and knocking players off their brooms. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, so we adjusted the rulebook accordingly,” says Dever, a sophomore biology major who is vice president of the club. “It is a very intense sport.”

The game combines elements of dodgeball, basketball and other sports, using two types of balls and a person acting as another — the Snitch.

“The game is fantasy brought into reality,” says Brandon Herlig, a freshman theater major. “It’s athletic, nerdy and fun at the same time.”

“We hope to improve and establish our team enough to play and compete with other schools,” says Kingsley-Burt, a sophomore communication major who is president of the club. She would like Quidditch to become an official college sport one day.

The Quidditch World Cup has taken place for the past four years, and Mason’s team plans to take its players to compete next year.

“It’s a great outlet for students on campus to exercise their mental and physical capabilities,” says Kingsley-Burt.” It’s for people who value creativity and athleticism at the same time.”

Photo by Evan Cantwell

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu