Quidditch gains popularity among CCU studentsby Adam Child
Even if one is familiar with the popular “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, it might be difficult to understand what these Coastal Carolina University students are getting themselves into. If passersby happen to be around Coastal’s track and field area around 1 p.m. on Sundays, they will find a group of more than 20 young men and women running around on broomsticks (yes, broomsticks). They are playing “Quidditch,” which has become increasingly popular among students at CCU.
The Quidditch club at CCU was formed around three years ago by students Ana Lavado and Maeve Snyder. Only three people showed up to the first practice. Now a regular group of 24 comes to prepare for tournaments held around South Carolina and North Carolina. The club just participated in its first big tournament, which included teams from universities such as University of South Carolina, Furman, Charleston and South Carolina Upstate. The tournament was scheduled for Nov. 3.
The game Quidditch was created by J.K. Rowling in the fictitious Harry Potter series consisting of wizards and witches dangerously flying at high altitudes and electric speeds on their magical broomsticks. The popularity of the series has increased nationwide, and as a result the game has been replicated for those without magical powers.
Quidditch can be difficult to learn. First, one will hear the echoes of team leaders calling complicated play formations. This is followed by the coordinated chaos of running into each other and simultaneously hitting opposing players with colored volleyballs. Quidditch is played with two teams of seven. Each team has three chasers, two beaters, one keeper and one seeker. The chasers are responsible for the quaffle, which is the scoring ball. Three large hoops for each opposing side are designated for chasers to throw the quaffle through for 10 points.
Beaters are responsible for the bludgers, which is a ball used to hit any opponent besides the keeper. Keepers, similar to a goalie in soccer, stay by their respective hoops to protect chasers from scoring.
The snitch, which in the Harry Potter books is portrayed as a flying golden ball, is represented by a person (not affiliated with either team) with a sock attached to his or her waist. The seeker who catches the snitch (obtains the sock) automatically ends the game and receives 30 points toward the team’s total points. Various rules are incorporated into the game such as grabbing the quaffle from behind and requiring each team to have at least two females and two males during play. However, the snitch has no rules and can literally punch, kick and shove anyone that comes in his or her path. This aspect takes the physicality of the game to a whole new level.
However, the behind-the-scenes culture of the Quidditch club community at CCU is far from hard-nosed physical play. Members accept anyone who shares their passion for the Harry Potter books. “Quidditch as a whole is a very open and friendly community,” says team captain Nick Powell, a junior English major at CCU. “Anybody who wants to play will be welcomed. People who have that desire and love for the books give us something similar. We see that in each other…which makes for a loving community.”
Playing the game can come at a cost, however. Several members realize the scrutiny they may receive playing a game derived from a book about wizards flying around on broomsticks. Passersby honk and wave at the Quidditch members, either out of enthusiasm or most likely sarcasm. However, these wizards and witches use their brooms to fly above the criticism.
“We don’t even care anymore,” says Quidditch Officer John Wilson, a health promotions major at CCU. “In order to go out there and put yourself into a sport that most people see as running around on broomsticks, you have to be open, trusting and willing to do what you love…You have to put aside the ridicule and come together as a family.”