On the fields of The Johns Hopkins University, there’s a peculiar game going on. With students wearing capes and holding broomsticks, Homewood these days looks a lot more like Hogwarts.
That’s because, this past spring, students formed a group to play quidditch, the beloved sport from Harry Potter.
“Since Hopkins is a pretty nerdy school, I was surprised there wasn’t a team already,” says Shelby Stewart, the team’s founder.
Stewart first heard about muggle (non-wizard) quidditch through a message board, and then found the International Quidditch Association, which reports there are 80 active college quidditch teams in the U.S.
She then contacted the Hopkins student government association to make quidditch an official group. Now, starting its third semester of play, there are nearly 50 students on the team, which they call the Jay Claws.
“I used to be a swimmer, so I know the monotony of a regular sport,” Stewart says. “Quidditch is so different and so silly that people are drawn to it.”
Although the students obviously don’t fly around, the game is similar. Players have to run around with a broomstick between their legs, all while trying to catch the snitch (a person) capture-the-flag style.
There are also gold hoops at each end that players have to land a volleyball into. All the while, there are players with dodge balls, trying to throw them at the opposing team.
“When I first explain it, people laugh,” Stewart says. “But they’re shocked at how intense it is. It’s like five sports in one.”
Most people on the team are avid Harry Potter fans, including Stewart, who has been reading the books since elementary school.
“I get bored with reality,” she says. “Harry Potter has been kind of an escape for me.”
So far, the Jay Claws have played scrimmages, hosted University of Maryland, and attended the 4th annual Quidditch World Cup in New York City. This season, they hope to recruit more players.
“People appreciate that we do something so out there,” Stewart says. “I think they res-pect that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”