When thinking of Quidditch, many don’t believe this fictional sport could get competitive. But Quidditch is much more grueling and demanding than one would think.
“Quidditch is a unique sport,” Eliott Bryson, president of the Quidditch team at Penn State, said. “It’s hard to pick up on, there’s nothing else really like Quidditch.”
The sport forces its players to be able to integrate several sports collectively into one. Michael Parada, the team’s captain, said Quidditch is a combination of handball, rugby and dodgeball.
The combination of these three “intense” sports makes the game not only challenging, but difficult to grasp and dangerous, Bryson (junior-finance) said.
“I got a concussion during a speed drill,” he said. “I had to go to the emergency room and had to stop playing for a couple of weeks.”
The challenging activity causes injuries in many of its players, he added.
“A girl collided with another player and had to get stitches on her eyebrow,” Bryson said.
But the brutality of the sport does not seem to affect the players “other than the occasional twisted ankle and broken finger,” Bryson said.
The team is not only tough on the field, but extremely competitive to be a part of, Parada (senior-electrical engineering) said. Out of 60 participants who love the sport, only 21 members are selected to play in the tournaments.
Parada said being picked for Quidditch’s elite is no easy task.
“It’s pretty hard since it’s divided into four subdivisions, it’s competitive to get in to the top three spots,” he said.
The dedication accounts for the intensity of the game, Kelly Gambocurta, a co-captain said.
“We practice three times a week, two hours each day,” she said.
Add to that weekly weight lifting, Gambocurta said, and the Quidditch team transforms into a not-so underrated group.
But the game isn’t just comprised of injuries, competition and brutal battles against a deadly opponent — fun is to be had while playing the magical game.
Along with playing with friends and combining three different sports, the team plays the game not for the challenge, not for the competition, not even for the title, but for fun, the players said.
The sport even led Parada to the Olympics.
Twenty-three Quidditch players were selected to be on a team to compete in the Quidditch Olympics, one from each region in the United States. Eleven of the players were selected solely on the level of skill. The rest were chosen based on their dedication, leadership and reputation within the sport.
But aside from the technicality of the competitive Olympic slot, the experience was worthwhile, Parada said.
“It was a lot of fun, one of the best experiences to date, it was really cool seeing all these kids from all over the country,” Parada said. “It really shows you how big the sport is getting.”
The bond that Parada describes he made is one that is incomparable and coveted by most.
But the camaraderie that he experienced with fellow Olympians doesn’t overshadow his desire to win, he said.
Parada said there is friendly competition with James Hicks, an Olympic teammate, who he faced at the Turtle Cup on Oct. 14 at the University of Maryland.
“He’s a big guy, his set up, his offense,” Parada said. “But I know what he’s capable of and he knows what I’m capable of.”
Among the challenges, turmoil and joys of Quidditch, the predominant sentiment the players said they felt toward Quidditch is passion. From the moment the players joined the team, they developed an unconditional love for the sport.
“I joined it and I loved it from the first time I played it, so I’ve been playing ever since,” Bryson said.
Parada said he didn’t always know he would love the game as much as he does.
“At first I was like it’s not gonna be fun, I’m not gonna put a broom between my legs,” he said.
But, as he continued playing the sport, he realized how much passion is involved in the sport.
“Out of soccer, football, basketball, baseball volleyball,” he said, “Quidditch, for me, has been the best.”