By Lasley Cash
At Furman, quidditch is no longer a game confined to J.K. Rowling’s uber-popular book series and Warner Bros.’ blockbuster film adaptations now that a group of students have brought the fictional broom-based game to life as a competitive club sport.
The quidditch team boasts 12 members and grew out of the Harry Potter club, which senior Melissa Coleman started in the fall of 2010. Also known as the Defense Against the Dark Arts, the club originally focused on loosely organized gameplay amongst members, but the ultimate goal was to form a club sports team that could compete with other college quidditch teams.
Middlebury College students adapted the fictional sport in 2005, giving it the name “muggle quidditch” since it was altered for non-wizards to play on the ground. The sport has been growing in popularity on Furman’s campus, and the team practices several times a week like any other club sport.
“Quidditch, like any other sports club, has to have regular practices and conditioning if we are to perform well in our tournaments,” said member Maria Barrell, who joined after playing on her high school team. “So since we practice and compete just like any other sports club, I would say that makes us equal to any sports club on campus.”
Quidditch, however, is a very specialized game that combines elements of several sports, including rugby, dodgeball, and lacrosse. A quidditch team is comprised of seven people — three chasers, two beaters, one keeper, and one seeker — and is required to be co-ed. Quidditch is considered a full contact sport in which players are constantly ducking and dodging balls that their opponents are throwing at them. A typical match lasts around 30 minutes, though games can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes.
In the fall of 2012, the Furman group became a recognized team after joining the Carolinas Quidditch Conference, a conference that includes the University of South Carolina, Duke University, College of Charleston, and many other schools in North and South Carolina. In November 2013, the Furman Quidditch team won their first two games at their first-ever home tournament.
Quidditch has grown in popularity nationally and even internationally. Many teams are registered with the International Quidditch Association, which hosts an annual World Cup competition and boasts more than 130 registered teams. Furman’s team is not registered with the Association but remains active and competitive in the quidditch community.
“The reason that most of us are on the team is because of the uniqueness of the sport — almost anyone can play because it takes a large variety of skills,” Barrell said. “[There’s also] the community, which is very accepting and welcoming.”
Although most quidditch players are avid Harry Potter fans, knowledge of the Potter-verse is not necessary for gameplay. The Furman Quidditch team is accepting new members, regardless of experience, and interested students can find more information on the team’s Facebook page.