Quidditch is more than just a fun time riding brooms.
There are more than 500 registered teams in the United States alone; there’s an official rule book, and it just so happens to be the only tackle co-ed sport currently being played at an intercollegiate level.
For those unfamiliar with J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, quidditch can be somewhat hard to describe. Dylan Clauson is the Operations Coordinator for The Quidditch Team at Central Michigan University.
The Mason senior described the sport as “similar to soccer in terms of the field movement and goals but also like football because there’s tackling. With a little bit of basketball, because when you get down toward the hoops, you set-up and make plays like basketball.”
The first ever real-life “muggle” quidditch game was at Middlebury College on Oct. 9, 2005. Since then, the sport has taken off with the creation of the International Quidditch Association and an annual world cup tournament, where top collegiate teams like Harvard, Princeton and Michigan State University compete for the coveted title, evidently thrilling Harry Potter fans in the process.
But players want to do more than bring Rowling’s fantasy sport to life. Some are even advocating for quidditch to be recognized by the National College Athletic Association.
All players on the oval pitch must carry a broom between their legs, thus leaving players with only one hand free. Players, called “chasers,” try to shoot the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) through one of three hoops positioned at the opposite end of the field.
The hoops are defended by a keeper and a line of defense, Beaters, who throw “bludgers” (slightly deflated kickballs) in hopes of causing the player to stop in their tracks or stun them, before tackling them to the ground. There is also the famous “golden snitch,” which must be caught by the seeker.
The role of the snitch is placed upon a yellow-clad player who runs around with a tennis ball in a sock hanging out behind him.
Students interested in joining the Quidditch team can attend practices at 8 p.m. Wednesdays in Finch Fieldhouse and Fridays at 3 p.m. at either the field by the Health Professions Building or Finch Fieldhouse, depending on the weather.
Club Quidditch at CMU became a registered student organization at Central Michigan University several weeks ago. The club team, led by President David Wilber, currently has 12 members.
“We started out just messing around for fun and had heard about other schools doing it,” the Battle Creek junior said. “Now we’re actually practicing and have two tournaments coming up in March.”
Practice for quidditch could be mistaken for any other sport, at least in the beginning. It starts off with warm-up laps and stretching, before going into passing, shooting and seeking drills.
The drills are created by team members who took inspiration from football and ice hockey practices.
Cadillac graduate student Christin Gostola said she has a lot of fun playing.
“I love the book, and it’s so cool to have it come to life and have other people who enjoy Harry Potter too,” she said. “And now it’s not just something in the books; we don’t just talk about the books, we get to live it.”
Gostla also got her boyfriend, Kori Marvin, also a Cadillac senior, to join the RSO. Both are Harry Potter fans and have visited many famous sites from the series in England. Marvin is a chaser for the team.
“I like it, because it’s a good way to exercise,” Marvin said.
Many of the Quidditch team members are also members of the Harry Potter Alliance, a RSO that promotes the book series and relates it to real life.
“It really started as a subgroup of HPA, like another activity for members,” Clauson said.
Though Harry Potter fans and Quidditch players alike are often scoffed for being nerds, Clauson disagreed.
“Jock-ish people at first think it’s really nerdy, but then you actually play and realize you have to be athletic,” he said. “Quidditich is a full contact, co-ed sport without padding, so there’s tackling, and the most protective gear people ever wear is like protective eye gear or mouth guards.”
The team travels to its first tournament on March 31 at Michigan State University, which currently has four quidditch teams.