Julia Rivera is a die-hard Harry Potter fan, and she is a natural athlete. So she decided to combine the two and formed the first Quidditch league at Kennett High School.
“It’s so much fun,” said Rivera, a Kennett sophomore. “There’s a lot of laughs to see everyone get so into it. After people play, they realize it’s more difficult than they were expecting.”
Quidditch is a fictional sport created by British author J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. Matches are played between two teams of seven players riding broomsticks, using four balls and six elevated ring-shaped goals three on each side of the Quidditch pitch (field). The “sport” is featured in every Harry Potter book except for the seventh because not much is spoken about events happening at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Rivera got the OK to form the sport from adviser and teacher Shawn Duffy. Immediately she recruited 30 students to join the team. Now, she’s looking for other local high schools to form their own Quidditch team so a league could be formed next school year.
But the sport is very physical. And because it’s a sport where both boys and girls can play on the same team, the physical contact becomes a concern.
“We make everybody swear they won’t tackle anybody so it hurts,” Rivera said. “It’s mixed boys and girls, and so far no one has got hurt. We have rules that it’s OK to tackle someone, but you can’t hit anyone on the head. If you do, you go in the penalty box.”
The Kennett students meet on Fridays after school and play on the Kennett playing fields. No tournament has been set up yet, but if people come out to watch, Rivera said tournament play will be considered.
“We just want people to come out and watch us play and support us,” she said.
Kennett High teacher Shawn Duffy gave the approval to oversee the Quidditch program.
“I think it’s great,” Duffy said. “The kids get to come out and get some exercise.”
Even though the sport is rooted in fantasy, the players insist it’s a blast.
“It’s a mix between rugby and ultimate Frisbee, but maybe not as violent,” Rivera said. “Keepers act as goalies and chasers try to score against keepers. Feeders try to get others out by throwing balls at them. You have to run around with a broom between your legs, and that’s part of the challenge.”
Quidditch games involve constant running, and last about a half-hour.
Rivera is so passionate about Quidditch she has posted videos on a Facebook page.
“Next year we’ll be more organized,” she said. “It’s really fun.”