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Emerson College Quidditch team prepares for World Cup

Posted by Your Town  March 1, 2013 04:00 PM

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The Boylston Berserkers, made up of Emerson students, played quidditch on the Boston Common. DAVID L. RYAN GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2008

As the Emerson College Quidditch team enters the final weeks of training for the World Cup tournament in mid-April, its members will be hurling deflated volleyballs, studying video footage of their opponents, and spending much of their off-time in the gym.

But there will be little to no talk of Harry Potter, the book series in which wizards play Quidditch on brooms, and from which this real-life sport originated.

Joanne Lam, a co-captain of the 20-person Emerson Quidditch team, said that most people think she is a Harry Potter fanatic. But that could not be further from the truth.

“I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books,” she said, adding that she has watched the movies. “I try not to mention it too much.”

Lam, a former rugby player, wanted to continue playing a somewhat similar sport at Emerson, which does not have a rugby team.

When she first watched the game, she said she thought, “I’m not going to play that, that’s crazy. But the community was amazing--everyone loved each other.”

Adopted in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Vermont, the sport is played at more than 300 colleges and high schools across the country and in a dozen other countries, according to the International Quidditch Association. To be a member of the association, teams are required to have a minimum of two players of a different gender.

Two teams of seven players run with brooms between their legs, and try to throw a slightly deflated volleyball, or quaffle, through hoops. Players also hurl balls to distract the other team from scoring.

The playing field is oval-shaped, roughly 48 by 33 yards at its farthest points, according to the association. One player, who is on neither team, carries the snitch -- usually a tennis ball in a long sock attached to the players shorts. The game does not end until the snitch is captured.

Lam said the timing of the game is very unpredictable, with a game lasting anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.

“It definitely gets frustrating,” she said.

The sport is year-round, with practices typically three times a week, she said. But with the World Cup series in a little over a month, the team is adding at least one additional practice each week.

Lam said that last year, Emerson Quidditch was out early in the tournament. This year, she is hopeful that they will last longer in the two day series.

“I have high confidence that we will do well,” she said.

In the past, the World Cup, which is run by the International Quidditch Association and consists of teams from around the world, was held in New York City. This year, the series is in Florida, which will be much more costly for the team.

In just a few days the team raised $7,450 - the money they needed, on the fundraising website Indiegogo.

The real-life version of Quidditch have been inspired by Harry Potter, she said, but it truly is like any other sport.

“We’re not just a fictional team of people who just really want to play because of Harry Potter,” she said. “It’s for the sport, the athleticism, and that we are basically a family.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

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