New teams face unique challenges as their schools and communities struggle to understand quidditch. Despite the challenges these players still love the sport.
We all remember our first encounter with quidditch. Some of us stumbled on it accidentally. Some of us came upon it after an active search, an ever-deeper descent into the world of other people who loved this series as much as we did, with just as much strength and fervor. Despite the challenges new teams faced as they bloomed, this did not diminish their love for quidditch.
But what are the challenges for everyone else? How have non-fans reacted to this wonderful oddity of a sport? Of course, this question is not a new one. However until quidditch is as mainstream as soccer, there will always be emerging teams that have to deal with the hurdles that a muggle world presents.
Richard Stockton College’s increase in offerings both academically and athletically led to the recent formation of a quidditch team. At Stockton, it was not so much the surface strangeness of quidditch that scared the administration, but rather the potential for violence and its gender inclusiveness, said Rebecca Revay, co-founder and beater of Stockton quidditch.
“Even though we met a lot of opposition, we knew we had to get it started in some way,” said Revay.
To get it approved, the team had to change the rules of the game itself, making interscholastic play impossible.
“We had to completely eliminate contact, which was awkward because then we had to change some other rules to make up for [that],” said Revay.
There’s still hope for this fledgling team, however. As the IQA becomes more established and the demand for the sport grows, the Stockton players have high hopes that an official competing team will be on the way. The athletic department has grown to love the sport and the team, according to Revay who has a lot of direct contact with them.
As far as interaction with the student body goes, Stockton has done pretty well for itself. As a small college, it has experienced little to no negativity and gained several members who have not even read the Harry Potter series – they just wanted to try it out.
Rutgers University, a much bigger school, but with a small (and growing) program, has seen a similar attitude. Chisa Egbelu, a sophomore and president of the Nearly-Headless Knights, describes Rutgers’ large student body as being a mix of curiously excited about the sport and those simply willing to write it off as a waste of time. Egbelu believes the best way to overcome this is exposure. The more people see how difficult the sport truly is and the more they see how fun it can be, the more likely they are to give it a chance. As a chaser, beater and seeker, Egbelu understands the sheer hard work and tenacity required and the satisfaction of turning that into a win.
The Rutgers administration has allowed quidditch to exist, giving it ample field time and trainers, but not always at convenient times. However, due to the fringe nature of the sport, it has, admittedly, fallen low on the list of priorities. Egbelu specifically cited logistical transportation as being a problem for the team, with buses likely to be canceled just before game day or simply not rented at all. In fact, this issue is what prevented the team from being able to attend World Cup.
The administration cancelled the scheduled bus right before World Cup VII, leaving the team helpless and causing the players to miss out on an opportunity they had all been looking forward to.
“It came down to, do we still want funding from our school next year, or do we want to go to the tournament?” said Egbelu of the option of going without the school’s support.
Despite the setbacks, a mutual love for the sport that the players, managers and fans share makes it worth it.
“I love how it’s such a new playing field,” commented Revay.
There is a certain community in the shared athleticism and enthusiasm of quidditch that cannot be replicated in any other arena. And for that reason, we have to promise never to back down from the challenges posed. I have faith in us.