Quidditch, a sport inspired by the fictional book and movie series “Harry Potter,” has gained popularity on both college campuses and in recreational leagues throughout the country.

The official beginnings of Quidditch as a game can be traced back to 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont, where one pickup game quickly grew into a seven-team intramural tournament.

By 2010, U.S. Quidditch was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, with the first ever meeting between the Board of Directors occurring later that May. According to the most recent statistics, there are 150 official University Quidditch teams under United States Quidditch, or USQ, and over 300 universities with teams in total.

The event director for the USQ, Sarah Woolsey, explained that she sees Quidditch not just as a sport, but an opportunity to bring people together.

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“Right now we aren’t looking to do anything in regards to making it a professional sport,” she said. “It’s more about developing the sport for college and high school students, and now even middle school kids. The idea is to include more schools, and create an overall greater interconnectivity.”

The sport’s recent jump in popularity has also been felt at Stony Brook, as students have been able to develop and maintain their own team. With a current roster of 21 people, practices are held four times a week and the team participates in tournaments every other weekend.

The current president of the Quidditch team, sophomore psychology major Anastasia Polyakova, said that despite a recent decline since the 2010 surge in participation, the team has been able to stay relevant and competitive.

“My favorite thing [about Quidditch] is that it is competitive, and fun, and that everyone is welcome to join,” she said. “But the reason that makes me so passionate about it is that last year they created a family, a safe space I could always turn to. And I became a president to ensure that incoming freshmen and returning members get to feel the same.”

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Being one of the only full-contact coed sports, Quidditch has attracted participants that had been previously unable to compete together. With a “four maximum” rule, each team may have no more than four players who identify as the same gender, out of the seven player total.

The USQ hosts at least two tournaments every weekend, which eventually leads to nine regional playoffs that feed into one national championship. This year’s championship, which is Quidditch Cup 9, will be held on April 16 and 17 at Saluda Shoals Park in Columbia, South Carolina.

The first five national championships from 2007-2011 were all won by Middlebury College, where the game originated. United States Quidditch did not host a championship for the 2012 season, and the past three years have all been won by the University of Texas at Austin.

Featured image credit: Danachos 

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