“Turning nerds into jocks and jocks into nerds since 2013”, is the slogan on UC Irvine’s Quidditch team’s T-shirts.
Yes, you read that correctly. Quidditch!
Most can recall Quidditch from the Harry Potter series, a game in which two teams would compete against each other while riding flying broomsticks.
A game that I thought only existed at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry is actually a sport that is recognized worldwide.
“Not everybody is necessarily a fan of Harry Potter. Some of us just really like the sport! Muggle Quidditch is what it’s formally called, and (it) has been around for around 10 years. It’s a real thing!” said team treasurer, Katie Wegmann.
UCI’s Anteater Quidditch team was created last year by team captain, James Luby, and a couple of his friends who were formerly players of the sport.
Luby was a member of the UCLA Quidditch team for four years; when he came to UCI to get his teaching credentials, he decided he wasn’t ready to let go of the sport just yet.
“The Quidditch team was my family away from home and I missed it when I left UCLA. I also really just loved the sport because it was ridiculous, crazy and fun to play. So I definitely wanted to continue that at UCI,” said Luby.
The formation of the club is still in the works and they have definitely had their struggles in getting it to be an actual club sport. They are trying to register themselves through the Anteater Recreation Center (ARC) to become one by the end of this year.
“Quidditch is such an obscure sport and not many people know about it, or they just think it’s a joke. So, it’s really hard to find people to come to our practices and take it seriously,” said Luby.
Quidditch is quite simple. The playing field is shaped in somewhat of an ellipse with three vertical hoops of varying heights at each end. The field extends behind the hoops as well, so players can score through the back.
There are six people per team, and their objective is to score in the opposing team’s goal. The sport uses a slightly deflated volleyball, and there are a total of four team members who are allowed to handle this volleyball. There are three chasers who are solely in charge of goal-scoring, and a single keeper who acts as a goalie but is also allowed to score goals.
On defense, there are two people per team who fight over a total of three dodgeballs. If someone on defense hits a player with a dodgeball, the player must run to the hoops on their side of the field and touch them to be entered back into the game.
What about the snitch? The walnut-sized, gold-colored ball with wings that flies around and is worth more points than a normal goal?
“It’s a tennis ball inside a sock! It’s attached with Velcro to a pair of shorts, kind of like flag football, and someone who has no affiliation with both teams runs around with it.” explained Wegmann. Only one person per team — the seeker — is allowed to go after the snitch.
Wegmann explains how the team has been using cost efficient equipment to keep the club running without much of a financial burden on those who want to join.
“The brooms from Harry Potter? PVC Pipes.” said Wegmann, laughing.
Nimbus 2000’s and other brooms from the Harry Potter series are available for the players to buy, but prices run to $60 a piece. The PVC pipes are a great cost-friendly alternative that even professional Quidditch players use.
“We really want anybody and everybody to come out and play without feeling like they can’t afford it. We just want people to come and hang out with us and have a good time. As of right now we ask for donations, but other than that there are no club fees,” Luby said.
To be a part of the competitive team and to be taking part in tournaments, one must simply be willing to put in the hours of practice. For others who just want to have fun, their only obligation is to come out and have a good time.
Quidditch is a co-ed, contact sport that is open for all students and even the public.
“It’s a pretty big community. College students, alumni, community members, all are welcome to drop by whenever! You gotta have some level of nerdiness in order to be willing to run around with a broom in between your legs, but we also don’t want to deny the athletic aspect of the sport,” Luby says as he mentions the diversity of the team and the wide array of people it allows.
Practices are held every week on Fridays and Sundays at Aldrich Park for all who are up for some serious exercise and fun.