Have you ever wanted to soar through the air on a Nimbus 3000, wind blowing your robes behind you as you search for the golden snitch? Well, now’s your chance. There may not be any Nimbus 3000s or fancy robes or even a real golden snitch, but all Harry Potter fans are invited to join NC State’s Wolfpack Quidditch Club and participate in the magical sport.
Although it isn’t an official sport at the University, the club competes against other college Quidditch teams as part of the International Quidditch Association play. In its early days, the team won the 2010 Pack-Devil Duel Champions, 2010 Tobacco Road Quidditch Cup Champions and 2013 Carolinas Quidditch Conference Championships Semi-finalists.
Wolfpack Quidditch is not unique to NC State. In fact, Wolfpack Quidditch is part of the Carolina Quidditch Conference, which includes North and South Carolina teams. There’s also a Quidditch World Cup where college teams nationwide compete for the title.
For those not familiar with Harry Potter, Quidditch is a game played on broomsticks where wizards fly around, throwing balls into rings and at other players, all while searching for the golden snitch. Michael Brown, a junior studying computer science and resident of Bragaw Hall, described Wolfpack Quidditch as a mix between handball, flag football and rugby.
Hannah Johnson, a freshman studying engineering and a resident of Metcalf Hall, is the team secretary and student liaison. She is in charge of getting people involved and organizing interest meetings.
“I first got involved by pure coincidence,” she said. “I was walking back from Fountain Dining Hall and saw (players) practicing, so I eagerly ran over and fell in love with the game.”
Even though the sport originated in Harry Potter literature, Brown said the team isn’t just made up of die-hard “Potterheads.” The players have various skill levels. Some are obsessed with Harry Potter but aren’t athletically inclined, and others aren’t as familiar with the books, but still enjoy the sport.
“Sometimes we get some people who are big fans, but a lot of times people become fans because they started playing,” Brown said.
The NC State team practices twice a week: Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. on Harris Field. Tournament and match dates vary throughout the year.
With practices held near the center of campus, players often benefit from living on campus. Johnson mentioned that some of the players live in Wolf Village Apartments. “It is a lot easier living only a few feet away from the practice field,” she said.
To play Quidditch, there are six hoops (one tall, one medium and one small hoop) on each side of the field and four positions (Chaser, Beater, Keeper and Seeker).
Chasers score the points by throwing the Quaffle, a deflated volleyball, through the hoops for 10 points each time. This is the only position that can handle Quaffles. Johnson is a Chaser because she loves to score points. Her favorite part of the game is scoring after a great run and fending off the other players.
Beaters throw Bludgers, dodgeballs, at other players, and are the only ones who can handle the dodgeball. Keepers are essentially goalies who block the 3 hoops on their sides of the field. They cannot be affected by the Beaters.
When players other than the Keepers are hit by a Bludger, they must come off their brooms and run back to their hoops before they can rejoin play. However, the players can’t drop their brooms unless they declare, “off broom,” and run back to their hoops to re-enter the match.
Seekers chase after the Golden Snitch once it is released on the field. The Snitch is a neutral player who runs around with a sock-like object hanging from behind his or her pants, which has to be pulled by either Seeker to end the game. The Snitch only has two rules to follow: he or she can’t climb things nor use motor vehicles. Once the Snitch is caught, the game ends and the team with the Seeker who caught the Snitch receives 30 points.
This year, Johnson has high expectations for the team. In addition to new brooms and other team necessities, she wants to the team to become National Quidditch Association certified and to grow in numbers.
“I’m hoping to double the size of the team by the end of the year,” she said. “My goals for the upcoming years are to build a name for ourselves and become a threat in the Carolina Quidditch Conference.”