In the muggle world, there are no flying brooms or a tiny golden ball that can actively evade its seekers. There’s no such thing as magical wands or a grand institution somewhere out there that solely serves to educate aspiring witches and wizards.
Despite these concrete obstacles, a group of students at Georgia Southern University managed to start a quidditch club team last semester.
“At first it was kind of like a joke, but then we actually started planning on it and it seemed like a lot of fun, so we made up the constitution. and it just became a thing,” Sam Bauer, president of the Quidditch Club and a junior English major, said.
Quidditch, the wildly popular sport of the Harry Potter world, is the wizardry equivalent of a soccer/rugby hybrid. Each team has three hoops to defend with a keeper posted at each. Witches and wizards zoom through the air on flying brooms as they compete to score a large ball, called a quaffle, through the three hoops. Beaters serve as defenders, smacking brutal balls, called bludgers, in the direction of their opponents with little clubs. Throughout the game, seekers, like Harry Potter himself, patrol the circular field searching for the ever-elusive golden snitch in hopes of catching it.
Unfortunately, we as humans haven’t managed to develop flying brooms yet. However, designers of the human-version of quidditch have found a rather odd solution.
“Oh my gosh, running with a broom between your legs. You think it’d be easy but it’s so awkward,” Sarah Greenberg, treasurer of the club and a junior accounting major, said.
As for the brutal bludgers, these are replaced by dodgeballs, which are hurled by beaters at their respective opponents. When a player is struck by the makeshift bludgers, the player must return to their team’s hoops before rejoining the play. The three hoops stand at varying heights as the players whiz around them tossing a volleyball, in place of the quaffle, back and forth. Launching the quaffle through the hoops awards a team ten points.
Despite originating from a fantasy world, the human-version of quidditch can be just as rough as J.K. Rowling’s imaginary sport. Players can pull and grab each other in competition for the ball, and there’s no love lost in this exchange.
“It’s surprisingly really physical, like you can tackle people in this game and try to take the ball from them,” Bauer said.
With one hand clutching their broomstick between their legs, players zoom up and down the field. In the Harry Potter world, seekers zoom around the stadium on their flying brooms during this time, desperately trying to spot and then catch the ever-elusive snitch. The tiny golden ball flutters through the air like a hummingbird and is extremely hard to see and nearly impossible to capture.
The makeshift version of this little magical golden ball is certainly much easier to notice, but may prove equally as hard to corral.
“The snitch isn’t a ball, it’s a person, unbiased to either team, and they come in at like the 18th minute, and only the seekers can chase after them,” Bauer said.
Seekers are a key component of a team, because they can completely change the fate of a match. If a seeker manages to capture the snitch, their team is awarded 30 points, triple the amount awarded for scoring throughout the game, and the match immediately ends. This opportunity leads to a heated competition between the two seekers and the human snitch.
“Technically, the snitch can do just about whatever he wants to me, and I try to chase him and turn him around somehow to grab the tennis ball from behind him,” Josh Manning, the team’s seeker and a junior exercise major, said.
In their second semester of existence, Bauer and the rest of the team are still in the process of establishing the club. Between recruiting and learning the fundamentals of the sport, this club is still striving for recognition amongst their competitors.
“Florida State reached out to us, and we’re going down to them, and they’re basically the only school who knows about us right now, so I’d say one of our biggest goals would be establishing relationships with other schools so that we can actually play matches,” Bauer said.
This past weekend, the club played in their first tournament ever. After a semester of jumpstarting the club and countless practices, the players were eager to get their feet wet in competition. However, expectations were measured heading into the day, considering their inexperience, and Bauer believes the tournament was an excellent step in the right direction.
“Our tournament went really well! Even though we didn’t win any of our games, we all had a great time and made a lot of friends at other schools,” Bauer said.
The club is always welcoming new members, and experience is certainly not required. Quidditch practice is held every Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m. on the RAC fields behind the Bishop Alumni building.