In a cubical on the first floor of the Memorial Union is the University of Rhode Island’s Quidditch club office, filled with brooms, dodgeballs and other Harry Potter themed items necessary for the “muggle” adaptation of the sport.
“It’s a heavy contact sport that has a lot of different things going on at any time,” said Brandon Ahl, the team’s president and captain.
A group of students from Middelbury College in Vermont played the first game, originally introduced in the Harry Potter book series, in Oct. 2005. Quidditch is a co-ed, contact sport with dedicated players from around the world according to the official US Quidditch website. The game has a simple concept: three “chasers” use a volleyball, called a “quaffel” to score 10 points by throwing it through one of the opposing team’s three hoops. Each team has a keeper who guards their team’s goals.
“In addition to scoring goals, there is another position on the field called the beater that has a unique…responsibility…” Said Ahl.
Two “beaters” from each team use dodgeballs to knock players out of play until they can touch one of their own goals.
“Each team has two beaters, for a total of four, but there are only three bludgers. So there is constantly a battle going on for not just points, but for bludger possession as well,” said Wade Barbera, another member of the club.
Tackling is allowed, but only by using one arm and from the front 180 degrees of another play. Like soccer, the game allows body padding that is no more than an inch thick. The game is played on a field called a pitch, which is a rectangle with two semi-circles on either end, totaling 60 yards long and 36 yards wide in the center.
“The head ref will yell ‘brooms up,’ and you run to the middle where there is a quaffel and three bludgers,” Natalie Clift said, the coach and treasurer.
Last is the “seeker” who chases a neutral runner dressed in yellow with ball called a “snitch” attached to their waist band. The snitch appears 17 minutes into the game along with the seekers and are not restricted by the boundaries of the playing field. The game ends when the snitch is caught. The seeker who catches the snitch is awarded 30 points for their team. Â It is not uncommon for the snitch and seekers to find themselves far from the main action of the game. There are even anecdotes of the snitch ending up on roofs or other, faraway places.
The team has weekly practices that include drills and conditioning. In the winter the practices are held inside in a gym. The club also participates in large official quidditch tournaments. For more information contact the club at URIQuidditch@gmail.com.