Quidditch growing in popularity for Muggles on university campuses

By Zachary Brictson

Quidditch is picking up steam at universities in the Midwest.

Quidditch, the fictitious sport that wizards and witches play in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books, is being made a reality on campuses across the nation.

Closely adapted from the actual game in the books, “quidditch for muggles” (non-magical folk) began as an intramural sport at Middlebury College in Vermont.

According to the International Quidditch Association‘s website, it has spread to over 400 colleges and high schools around the world.

Nearby schools in the Midwest, like Illinois State University, have been participating in the activity regularly.

Megan Doherty, junior business and teacher education major at ISU who is a member of its quidditch team, said she was impressed at how authentic the real-life adaptation of the game felt.

“We can’t actually fly, but the positions are really similar,” Doherty said.

Doherty and Shayla Johnson , senior biology major and president of ISU’s Quidditch team, both encouraged NIU to start its own team, and that is exactly what they’ve done.

Bridget Hickey, freshman special education major, is president of NIU’s newly-found Quidditch Club.

“I’ve been a ‘Harry Potter’ fan for years, so it just seemed right,” said Hickey.

Hickey said the club is gaining a lot of interest and hopes to be facing other schools next semester.

She is currently focused on teaching new members how to play and getting them sorted into the four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Ravenclaw). There are seven players per team that play on an oval shaped field, according to the official IQA rulebook.

A keeper acts as a goalie, protecting the hoops on his side of the field.

The three chasers on each team then try to score by throwing the “quaffle” (a volleyball) through the hoops.

In the meantime, two beaters on each team attempt to interfere with the opposing team by pegging them with “bludgers” (dodge balls).

Among all the madness, a seeker on each team must constantly be trying to capture the “snitch,” a tennis ball in a sock carried by a very fast runner.

Catching the snitch awards bonus points and ends the game.

There is no time limit, and players must be mounted on a broomstick at all times. Tackling combined with dodge balls also makes the sport very physical.

“It can get kind of crazy,” Doherty said.

“It sounded like a lot of fun, and I wanted a club to be involved in,” Johnson said.

She said the sport is like a combination of rugby, dodge ball and tag.

Like in the books, Johnson said injuries do occur, as the sport is very competitive.

“The sport has grown so much, and the Midwest alone has large number of active teams,” Johnson said.

She said Loyola University Chicago and Purdue University have been ISU’s biggest rivalries.

While the majority of players are naturally fans of the books, Doherty and Johnson said that isn’t always the case.

“One of our most active members has never read the books or seen the movies,” Johnson said.

Doherty said players don’t have to be fans of the Harry Potter books to play the sport.

Justine Brown, junior physical therapy major, said some of her friends might be interested in playing the sport.

“If you’re into that kind of stuff, I think it’d be fun,” she said.

Brandon Woodhouse, junior sociology major, said he believes it’s more for fans of the books.

“You really have to be into that culture,” he said.

Johnson said that ISU’s team grew quickly and that “sometimes the easiest recruitment is just practicing and getting a crowd interested.”

“It’s really fun, and a good way to stay active while meeting awesome people,” Doherty said.