On Saturday, October 22, the newly formed Westfield State University club Qudditch team participated in its first ever tournament. Though the players may not soar around in the air like in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the action is just as intense with many of the same rules.
“The response to the new team has been almost overwhelming,” says team co-captain Corinne Glennie, a senior at WSU. “We’ve been working really hard to get us ‘off the ground‘ and finally we’ve managed to do just that.”
Much like in the book series, Qudditch is played with teams running around with broomsticks between their legs, and with only one hand allowed to pass the Quaffle (the point scoring volleyball) and the Bludgers (three kick balls used to “stun” the other teams’ members).
On the field at one time are three Chasers who try to get the Quaffle through the opposing teams’ three hoops set up at the opposite end of the field. There are also two Beaters, who use the Bludgers to stop opposite team members from getting very far with the Quaffle.
When hit with a Bludger, the player has to stop whatever they are doing (including dropping the Quaffle if they have it) and dismount their broom, running back to their team’s goal posts and circling before they can resume play. This is meant to simulate falling off one’s broom.
Beaters can also use the Bludgers to defend their Chasers or Seekers as they run around the field trying to get points. Around the goal post hovers the Keeper, who acts as a goalie and tries to keep the opposing team from scoring on their hoops. The Keeper can also run into the field and act as a fourth Chaser, but this leaves the goal vulnerable and is not usually a favored task.
The Snitch in this Muggle version of the game is not a small golden ball with wings but instead a person from a team that is not playing who dresses all in yellow. A yellow sock with a tennis ball hangs out of their back pocket and that is the item that the Seekers go for. Other than the Snitch, the Seekers mostly get to sit back and call warnings to their teammates. But the Seeker is by no way the easiest position on the team.
You see, the Snitch has next to no rules as to what it must do, other than keep the players from catching the tennis ball. Other teams’ Snitches who are not playing can come on from off the field to distract or even attack the Seeker when the true Snitch appears.
Released at the beginning of the game when no one is looking, the Snitch doesn’t return to the field until 10 or 15 minutes into the game, and when it does it is rarely ever in a conventional manner.
There have been reports of Snitches on bicycles, skateboards and roller blades in other games. If the Snitch needs a break, he or she gets one, and the Seeker must wait. If the Snitch falls down, the Seeker must give them a minute to get up and get moving again.
On Saturday, one of the Snitches appeared on the roof of a nearby building, teasing the Seekers in a yellow tutu. The Snitch is definitely the comedic aspect to the game.
Not all of the Westfield team members, around 20 in total, were able to go on the trip to UMass Amherst this past weekend, but the 12 students who did played their first game as the Westfield State University Owls.