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With Brooms Between Their Legs, College Club Teams Fight For Quidditch World Cup

The fields at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, SC, are usually filled with youth soccer teams. Not this past weekend. Instead, it’s Quidditch - the famous wizarding sport of Harry Potter’s world in which characters fly around on brooms.

"It’s a mixture of rugby, dodgeball...it’s a lot of hitting it’s a lot of physicality. And at the end it’s almost like flag football," says Alyssa Marassa, a chaser for the Illinois State Firebirds. 

And yes, all of this is happening while they run around with brooms between their legs. More than 80 college club teams from across the country were part of the Quidditch World Cup this weekend.

Quidditch Basics

  • Each team has six players on the field. They can either kick or throw what’s called a Quaffle (actually it’s a volleyball) into hoops on their opponent’s end zone.  
  • As you try to score, certain players throw dodgeballs (also known as Bludgers) at you to hold you back. If you’re hit, you have to return to your end of the field.  
  • After eighteen minutes of regulated play, the game changes. One person called the Snitch runner is dressed in yellow and has a ball Velcro-ed to their back. That ball is called the Snitch. Teams also release what are called seekers to wrestle the Snitch to the ground. Once that’s done the game is over.  
Credit Layna Hackman / US Quidditch
US Quidditch

  Snitch runners are neutral players who participate in several games.

"You can like run a bunch and keep out of range. Or get good at throwing. And use the seeker’s momentum to throw 'em to the ground or dismount them and grab their broom and throw it away," says Snitch runner Stewart Driflot from Boise State.

Make no mistake, players take this game seriously. Korey Johnson of Bowling Green says it’s rough. 

"I’ve gotten concussions before from Quidditch. If you don’t bleed you’re doing something wrong."

Johnson spoke right after they suffered a 120-point loss to the highly ranked Texas State. He says his team was just overmatched.

"We fought like hell, that’s for sure, we did everything we could."

It’s clear that these teams are passionate about their sport. Bowling Green’s Alec Brown says it’s a challenge to be taken seriously as athletes.

"It’s a sport that administrators don’t understand. They don’t watch, it doesn’t create revenue for them so for them it’s just something they can just push off which is really unfortunate because you come here and see the passion everyone has for it. But yeah, they need to get on board," says Brown.

The sport has changed a lot in the four years that Alyssa Marassa has been playing for Illinois State. She says when she was a freshman, it was a lot nerdier. Just about everyone who played read every Harry Potter book and saw all the movies, and the players even dressed up.

"When I started you had to wear capes…it’s definitely gotten more serious over the last few years. You’ll still find teams who do it for fun but there are more teams who are competitive about it," says Marassa.

To be clear, there are still Harry Potter fans, but it’s more common to have players who have only seen a few movies or read a book or two.

"But since it’s still developing and in its newer stages, I definitely think in a few years, those teams will have dropped off and only the competitive teams will stay," says Marassa.

University of Texas were ranked first in the country won this year’s World Cup. They went home with a big trophy in the shape of a broom handle.