For a group of about 30 students, Friday marks the bittersweet ending of one Harry Potter era and the broomstick-wielding beginning of another.
They are the university's own Muggle Quidditch team, and on the day of the final Harry Potter movie release, they'll play in their first tournament for the fictional sport that Harry and his wizard friends made famous.
During a recent practice on campus, a few curious spectators stopped to inquire about what the group was doing.
"It's Quidditch," the members would shout, enthusiastically, in reply.
"No kidding?" one onlooker said. "How do you play?"
"You run around with a broom between your legs and try to throw balls through three hoops," said Nichole Seguin, who, in an ode to the books, calls herself the headmistress of the Department of Muggle Games and Sports.
Her description pretty much sums it up.
'Harry Potter come to life'
As part of its weekend-long Harry Potter celebration, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is hosting its first-ever Quidditch Tournament. The tournament, which begins at 2 p.m. Friday, is free for spectators and will follow some special clinics (starting at 11 a.m.) to teach aspiring "seekers" and "chasers" about the sport.
The Oakland Owls will compete against Quidditch teams from Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University.
Seguin, an OU junior from Utica, formed the Owls last year with the support of the university. OU provides funding to the group, which it classifies as a social organization. The Owls are one of about 250 Quidditch teams at colleges and universities across the country.
"You get a lot of different types of people who come to this game," said Adam McNeilly of Warren, who will start at OU as a freshman this fall. He found out about the school's Quidditch team at orientation and said he joined it out of curiosity — and out of a love for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
"For most people, it's their childhood dream come true," McNeilly said. "Everybody wants to fly on their broomstick and perform magic spells, and this is the closest we're going to get.
"And that's what it is for me," he said. "It's Harry Potter come to life."
Potter, full circle
Sequin said she practically cries every time she sees a preview for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. (It premieres at )
Like most of the rest of the Owls team, Seguin was in elementary school when Harry received his first summons to Hogwarts in the pages of the series' first book in 1998.
Since then, she's read every book and seen every movie. Her love for Harry Potter has come full circle with the formation of the Quidditch team.
"It's our whole generation," said Seguin, a journalism major.
She said her hope is that the Oakland Owls will grow to compete in tournaments regionally and even nationally. She praised the university for its support of the group.
"OU loves us," she said.
The Quidditch tournament begins at 2 p.m. Friday at The Henry Ford. If you can't make it to Dearborn but want to see the team in action, members practice at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Oakland University; the practice field is on the grassy field south of the Oakland Center; there is plenty of free parking available; and team members say they welcome spectators.