Rutgers Quidditch team set to compete in regional championships
The Rutgers Quidditch team is set to play in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship this week in hopes of qualifying for the Quidditch nationals. The team has been active at Rutgers for the past six years and continues to partake in this increasingly popular sport.
Quidditch is based on the fictional sport of the same name featured in J.K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter" series. In the novels, players from different houses fly on magical broom sticks, chase flying balls through the air and throw them through goal posts to score.
The fictional sport has since been reimagined by colleges around the world, and professional leagues of the sport date back to 2005. There are four professional Quidditch organizations across the globe, said Naresh Edala, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and president of the Rutgers Quidditch team.
“When we say we play Quidditch just like Harry Potter, people just think that we’re just a bunch of cosplayers dressed up in robes and running around on brooms, but that is very far from the truth,” Edala said. “In reality, Quidditch is a mix of basketball, dodgeball and rugby. It’s highly athletic and full contact.”
He has been a member of the team since his first year at Rutgers University. Edala said that the club has been trying to separate the sport from the "Harry Potter" movies and books in order for people to understand that this is a real sport and can be seen as such outside the series.
The team consists of approximately 20 members and practice three times a week on both the Busch and Livingston campuses and often travel for tournaments.
Edala explained that the sport does have some similarities to the game portrayed in the books and movies.
Instead of brooms, players ride around on PVC pipes, and the golden snitch — the fast-moving object a player must catch to win the game — is another player dressed head to toe in gold-colored clothing. In order to "catch" him, another player must rip off a velcro sack with a tennis ball from his waist, similar to flag football.
While Edala is a long-time fan of the "Harry Potter" series, he said he does try to make the sport accessible to non-fans. For example the sport is co-ed, in fact, he said that most teams are half men and half women.
The team also does not use the fiction house teams created in the books, such as Gryffindor and Slytherin.
“Once people play Quidditch it really hooks you in because there is nothing quite like it," Edala said. "I played a lot of sports in high school, but then when I came to Rutgers and saw a Quidditch match, I was immediately drawn in. Even if you’re not a 'Harry Potter' fan you can still totally get into it.”
The Quidditch community is very inclusive, Edala said.
He has been able to make connections all over the country and even the world because of this sport.
Even those who have left college are still passionate about the sport and continue to play. The former captain of the Rutgers Quidditch team, Lindsay Marella, a student in the Graduate School of Education, played for Team USA Quidditch and won the World Cup against Belgium this year, Edala said.
People should come out and see Quidditch games just for the "sheer chaos" of it, he said. In the sport, there is a mix of unrelenting physicality as well as mental strategy and because the games are done in tournaments, there is always a high level of excitement and competitiveness.
“Every position is going to be doing something, there is never a dull moment,” Edala said. “The community itself is just wonderful, whether you are a 'Harry Potter' fan or not. It’s family friendly and everyone can have fun, anyone can get invested in it and it’s never boring.”