Sights and Sounds from the Quidditch Pitch: Penn State’s Nittany Invitational

Quidditch is not a child’s game. The co-ed sport — described as a mixture of rugby, handball, and dodgeball — is played on college campuses and communities across the country and around the world, with the end goal of qualifying for the International Quidditch Association’s World Cup.

Penn State’s own Quidditch team hosted the Nittany Invitational this past weekend, its first intercollegiate tournament of the year. Schools such as Maryland, Pitt, and NYU traveled to State College for a shot at the tournament crown. (For a full breakdown of each team, you can read a preview of the tournament written by the International Quidditch Association’s “Mid-Atlantic Correspondent.” No, we didn’t just make that up.)

Wish you could have seen it? Don’t worry, Onward State captured the sights and sounds of the tournament for you right here:

(Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)
(Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)

You might be curious — if the Quidditch of Harry Potter is played with magical brooms, enchanted Bludgers, and a self-propelled Flying Snitch, what is the sport that these college students Muggles are playing? Well, the brooms are replaced with PVC pipes, the Bludgers are dodgeballs, and the Snitch is a gold-clad human with a tennis ball attached to his waist, which Seekers attempt to capture to score 30 points and to end the match.

(Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)
Except, the Snitch can fight back. Pictured: Penn State’s Seeker getting decked by the Snitch. (Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)

The rules of the game are similar to the Quidditch of Harry Potter, minus the flying and adding the full-body tackling of rugby. Each team fields seven players:

    • Three “Chasers,” who score the Quaffle (a deflated volleyball) through one of the opposing team’s three goalposts for 10 points apiece. On defense, they take on opposing Chasers by “lowering [their shoulders] and hitting them, essentially,” according to Penn State Quidditch Club president Eliott Bryson.

(Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)
A Penn State Chaser fighting off Ball State’s defenders. (Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)

  • Two “Beaters,” who peg opposing players with Bludgers (dodgeballs), forcing them to run back to their own goalposts before re-entering play. They can also wrestle opposing Beaters for possession of the Bludgers — a team that holds two of the three Bludgers is said to be in “Bludger control”.

Photo by: Bobby Chen
An NYU beater pursuing a Penn State beater. (Photo by: Bobby Chen)

  • One “Keeper” — essentially a goalkeeper — who guards the team’s goalposts while on defense, and can act as an oversized fourth Chaser (and dunk specialist) while on offense.

(Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)
Penn State’s Keeper (green headband) advances the Quaffle. (Photo by: Mitchell Wilston)

  • One “Seeker,” who vies against the opposing Seeker to “capture” the aforementioned Snitch — a neutral player that runs around with a tennis ball attached to his or her waist. Capturing the Snitch is worth 30 points and ends the match immediately.

Photo by: Bobby Chen
Penn State’s Seeker (gold headband) after a successful Snitch capture. (Photo by: Bobby Chen)

Basically, Penn State Quidditch is just like any other athletic team, right down to their pregame cheer:

The Quidditch team even has a coach!

Despite its early loss to NYU in pool play, Penn State advanced to the finals in tournament play, where it suffered a tough loss to Maryland, 120-50. However, take solace in the fact that Penn State crushed Pitt, 130-50.

Bobby Chen, Mitchell Wilston, and Mara Kern contributed to this post.

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