Quidditch Goes South

By Derek Halsey (reporter@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Jun. 12 | Modified: Jun. 13
Quidditch Goes South

Boone’s Appalachian Apparators march onto the field at the International Quidditch Association
World Cup in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Photo by Isabella Gong, International Quidditch Association

If you are a fan of the “Harry Potter” books and movies, then you are aware of the game called quidditch.

A few years ago, the fantastical game was adapted for mere muggles, and, soon after, quidditch teams began to appear at colleges all around the world.

This past April, the International Quidditch Association (IQA) World Cup took place in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. One of the 80 teams that qualified for the tournament was our own Boone-based Appalachian Quidditch Apparators, which includes Appalachian State University students and local Watauga County players who comprise the Appalachian Quidditch Club.

In the “Harry Potter” series, the characters played the game on flying broomsticks. In the real world version of the game, there are players who do have to play with a broomstick between their legs, but there is much more to the sport, with players and fans alike describing it as fun and truly competitive.

The Appalachian Quidditch Club commissioner is Courtney Colwell, and she describes the game like so:

“Most people explain the game of quidditch to people who have never seen it before as a mixture of rugby and dodgeball,” Colwell said. “The chasers, three on the field at a time for each team, handle the quaffle, which is a volleyball, and they score by shooting the quaffle through one of the three hoops at either end of the pitch. The keeper — there is one for each team — guards the hoops. This part of the game is the most similar to rugby. Opposing chasers are allowed to tackle the other team’s chasers from the front, only in order to regain possession of the quaffle.

“Three kickballs, called bludgers, are on the field at a time. Beaters — there are two beaters for each team — handle the bludgers. Their job is to disrupt the chaser game as much as possible by throwing the bludgers at opposing chasers or opposing beaters. Once hit with a bludger, a player must take his broom out from under their legs and tag their hoops. This part of the game is the most like dodgeball.

“The final element of quidditch is the seeker game. The snitch is a guy or girl dressed in all yellow, with a sock and tennis ball attached to the back of his pants. Each team has one seeker, and they must retrieve the sock and tennis ball to end the game, which is sort of like flag football.”

Another positive aspect of organized quidditch is the rules state that all teams must have all genders represented, making it a truly co-ed sport.

“As a girl, I think that the gender rule, which says that two females or people who identify as females must be on the field at a time during the game, is a success,” Colwell said. “The sport is becoming more competitive, and, in my opinion, the gender rule gives females the chance to play at a competitive level. More men seem to play quidditch than women. If they split the league into men and women instead of one combined league, then many women might not play because there might not be enough of us. Then again, who knows?”

This version of quidditch was created in 2005 by Middlebury College student Xander Manshel. Since then, the IQA was formed with the goal of moving forward the game and focusing on the human qualities of inclusive competition, leadership, community and creativity.

The Appalachian Quidditch Club was formed a few years later.

“App Quidditch started in 2009 by just a couple friends who heard of quidditch and thought it sounded fun,” Colwell said. “Now, there are more than 40 people who regularly or semi-regularly come to practice and attend meetings. Every year, at the beginning of the academic year, Appalachian State does a club expo. At the club expo, clubs provide information to students about joining their club, how often they meet and so forth. I saw quidditch at the club expo last year, my freshman year, and decided to give it a try. I immediately fell in love and never left.

“Last year, the Apparators were not an IQA-official quidditch team. Only teams that are IQA official are allowed to compete in regionals and the World Cup. So, this year, App State became IQA official. I was so excited to go to World Cup with the first Quidditch team I ever played on.”

When the results of the Quidditch World Cup came in, so did the news that the Apparators lost in the first round. Still, it was an impressive performance as the Apparators celebrated their first-ever tournament by pushing Canada’s best team, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, to the limit with an unexpectedly competitive game that ended with a score of 120 to 80.

For more information on Appalachian quidditch, visit https://clubs.appstate.edu/quidditch/.

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