J.K. Rowling was the first to introduce it to the fantasy fiction world. Then Hollywood put it on the big screen in five of the eight Harry Potter films. Now the sport has sprung to life, becoming a growing club sport at Shippensburg University. What is this sport you ask? It is Quidditch.
Yes, that is right. Quidditch is no longer just a fictional sport. It is now a very real and popular sport, with more people being recruited into the Shippensburg Warlocks.
The club formed last semester by Chris Kostick, who served as the team’s captain that year. He sent out emails and put up flyers all over campus, and just like that, the Shippensburg Warlocks were born.
“I never heard about it before, but I was excited to do it because I love Harry Potter,” Samantha Herto said.
Since then, the Warlocks have been working diligently to transform their club into something remarkable on campus. In addition to getting many more recruits this semester compared to last, (57) the Warlocks have also sponsored a car wash, which was held last Sunday. They continue to post flyers on campus to try and get more to join.
“It’s also all about getting more experience,” Herto said. “Last year when we started, we weren’t sure how it all worked, but now that we got our feet wet, we can practice and know what we’re doing and try to get better. When we play teams this year, we’ll be more prepared.”
But what it all comes down to is playing the game against another college. There is nothing like it for the Warlocks.
“It’s exciting and a bit nerve-wracking, especially when you play teams you haven’t played before.” Herto said. “It’s always really cool to meet other people who liked Quidditch, because we’re not…completely normal.” Lindsey Rosen added with a chuckle.
The Warlocks even have a friendly relationship with frequent opponent Kutztown University, whose nickname is the Kedavras.
“We call ourselves the Kutzenburg Kedavlocks,” Herto joked, emphasizing the friendship and alliance with KU.
The sport was adapted from the Harry Potter novels and films. In 2005, Middlebury College freshman Xander Manshel wanted to change up his dorm’s tradition of Sunday bocce. Thus was born the very first Quidditch game.
Since that fateful game, students from more than 1,000 colleges and high schools from a dozen countries have created their own team, with over 300 active teams playing in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Great Britain and Brazil.
Herto is impressed with how far the sport has come.
“For it to come so far is pretty cool. It has a World Cup and it’s all over the country, so it’s pretty cool,” she said.
The game is played similarly as it was played in Harry Potter, with the exception, of course, of not being able to fly on broomsticks. There are seven players on the pitch at a time, which consists of three chasers, two beaters, one keeper and one seeker.
The chasers’ job is to move a ball called the quaffle around the pitch and, much like soccer, try to score a goal by throwing the quaffle through one of three hoops on the opponent’s side.
The beaters’ purpose is to use another ball called the bludger and use it to hit players of the other team, thus knocking them out temporarily. In order to return to the game, the hit player must dismount their broom, walk back to their side, and touch one of the hoops before remounting their broom and returning back to play.
The keeper simply serves as a goalie, preventing the opponents’ chasers from scoring goals.
And the seeker’s job is to catch the snitch. The snitch is portrayed as a volunteer not on any side of the team, dressed in all yellow with a yellow sock holding a tennis ball stuffed down the back of their shorts. The seeker must pursue the “snitch” and remove the sock and ball from his shorts, thus ending and winning the game for the respective team.
The Warlocks officially open their season on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Kutztown University for a friendly matchup with the Kedavras. They hold practice in the recreation fields behind Seavers Complex on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. and Mondays from 6-8 p.m., and have conditioning sessions every Friday from 6-8 p.m.
They are looking to continue building their Quidditch program and make an impact on SU’s campus and beyond.