Yes, UC Berkeley has a Quidditch team. Quidditch, as in the game that Harry Potter plays at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in one of the most memorable book series of all time. If you’d like to know a little bit more about this fantastic team that’s actually applying to become an official UC Berkeley sports club next season and how they play a magical sport in a Muggle world, here is some quick information that you might find helpful:
Instead of flying on broomsticks, UC Berkeley students must, unfortunately, hold a broomstick between their legs while they are playing the game. Three hula hoops sustained by PVC pipes on each side of the field serve as goals.
There are three Chasers on the team who basically play the role of soccer’s forwards. Their purpose is to get the Quaffle, which is a slightly deflated volleyball, inside one of the hoops and win 10 points for their team. There are two Beaters on each team; they are responsible for three Bludgers — which are slightly deflated dodgeballs. If hit by a Bludger, a player has to drop his or her broomstick, run back and touch the hoop and run back to the game.
The Keeper is like a goalie in soccer. They try to stop the Quaffle from going through the hoops. Inside the “Keeper’s zone,” which is the part of the field that is around the hoops, the Keepers are immune to Bludgers, and they are the only players who can put their hands through the hoops.
Unlike Harry’s version of Quidditch — in which the Snitch is a tiny golden ball that flies around the field with great speed — the Muggle version of this game requires an actual person to be the Snitch. This person wears golden shorts that have a tennis ball inside a sock attached with Velcro to the back of the golden shorts. When competing with another team, the Snitch must be a third party to either team. This way, the game will remain as neutral and fair as possible.
The game ends when a player catches the Snitch, which is worth 30 points. “It used to be the case that the Snitch could run anywhere except inside of any building. People would run into fountains, jump on cars … Now you actually have to stay on the field,” said campus sophomore Djake Stanton. Because of this rule modification, the Snitch needs to focus a little bit less on speed but more on strength and agility inside the field.
Tournaments and rivals
The Cal Quidditch team was created five years ago and regularly plays against the teams from UCLA, the University of Southern California, Arizona State University and the University of Central Florida. Louisiana State University has been one of the most challenging teams that Cal Quidditch has played against, though. “They are a very physical, large and aggressive team,” said campus senior Nick Mertz.
The team’s most common rivals are the San Jose State University team and the Stanford University team, which, oddly enough, is one of the players’ favorite teams to play against. “There is a rivalry between our schools, but they are clean and chill players,” said UC Berkeley senior Colin Holtson.
The first tournament of the season is held during the end of September or the beginning of October. The World Cup, which is the biggest college Quidditch tournament in the world, is in April and has been held in places such as Orlando, Florida, New York and South Carolina. This tournament was first organized eight years ago, and since then, Cal’s Quidditch team has played against different teams across the United States and even against other countries, such as the Qwertyians team from Tijuana, Mexico.
First, if you think you need to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to join this team, then you are mistaken. Cal’s Quidditch team accepts anyone and everyone who is interested in playing the game, regardless of how much they know about Harry Potter. In fact, one of the founders of Cal Quidditch — Sean Robbins — had never read the entire Harry Potter series until he graduated from UC Berkeley.
Second, even though their season officially starts at the beginning of the school year, they welcome new members any time throughout the year. There are no official tryouts, and pretty much anyone who is enthusiastic about playing will be allowed to play. The roster lists between 20 and 60 people per year, and at each practice, the team averages 14 to 25 attendees. The team is divided into two levels: Team A is the team that actually plays at tournaments and attends the World Cup, and Team B is for players who joined the team just for fun and to remain physically active throughout the school year.
The majority of the people who join the team are students who like to try new things and are looking for new activities to remain physically healthy. Stanton played soccer and baseball in high school, but when he came to UC Berkeley, he found Quidditch to be “another way of staying active while doing something fun and alternative.”
If you are interested in joining this unique team or just want to watch one of your favorite childhood books come to life, check out the practice times: Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. on Memorial Glade, Fridays from 4-6 p.m. on the Valley Life Sciences Building lawn and Sundays from 2-4 p.m. on Memorial Glade.