No, the brooms don’t fly. And if you want to get really technical about it, they’re actually spare lacrosse sticks.
But that hasn’t stopped students from joining Northeastern’s intramural quidditch league, which is holding its semifinal and final games on Saturday morning in Cabot Cage.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this would make my entire life,’” said freshman marine biology major Katherine Hudson, captain of the Swagglepuff team, one of four competing in the final games. “I pestered lots of my friends until I found enough who’d be willing to get up for games at 8 a.m. Saturday mornings.”
Quidditch, for the uninitiated, is a sport that exists in J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular “Harry Potter” novels. Teams of wizards compete on flying broomsticks, scoring points with the quaffle and attempting to knock opponents from their brooms with bludgers. The game continues until either teams’ seeker — the position held by Harry on the Griffindor squad — captures the golden snitch.
On the ground, the game works a bit differently.
“It’s a lot of different sports all smushed together,” said Jen Plattel, a sophomore biology major and the captain of For the Greater Good, another team that has advanced to the semifinals. “For the first bit it’s basically handball and dodgeball, where you’re trying to score points for your team in the goal posts — which are sort of like three hula hoops on posts — without getting hit by the bludgers.”
At some point during the game, officials release the snitch, which in the books is a small, golden, winged ball that flies around the pitch on its own. It can be so difficult to capture that, in Rowling’s fantastical world, games have gone on for days.
In intramural competitions, however, the snitch is a runner dressed in yellow who runs onto the field, trying to avoid capture by either team’s seeker. Capturing the snitch—a move that resembles a tackle in flag football—nets an intramural team 30 points, compared with 10 from each goal with the quaffle.
By all accounts, the team to beat Saturday is Emma Watson’s Boyfriend, which draws its name from the actress who played Hermione Granger in the eight Potter films.
“People were excited when they heard Northeastern was getting intramural quidditch, but it was a harder sell when I said the games were at 8 o’clock on Saturday mornings,” said captain Andrew Cannella, a senior mechanical engineering major. “But I convinced them how great it would be to win the Quidditch championship, and that started to turn them around.”
The Quidditch playoffs begin at 8 a.m. with a match between Swagglepuff and the Flying Flobberworms. Another game, between For the Greater Good and Emma Watson’s Boyfriend, starts at 8:30. The winners of those contests will face off in the championship game at 9:15 a.m. in Cabot Cage.
The first quidditch season included a total of 12 teams of six students each, which Jack Butler, an intramurals coordinator for Campus Recreation, called “great for the first offering of a new sport.” Butler added that another season is planned, likely beginning next year right after spring break.
“We feel that this season went really well,” Butler said. “We got people participating who don’t normally come out to our other, more traditional, sports. It seems to have been a great experience all around.”