Broomsticks were being handed out. It was only slightly disappointing to find that the broomsticks did not actually give anyone the ability to fly.
Mechanical engineering freshman and co-captain of Cal Poly SLO Quidditch Josh Mueller stood among the broomsticks and PVC pipes that functioned as goals, preparing for practice.
“Everyone’s heard of water polo and soccer,” Mueller said, gripping his broomstick proudly. “But when you mention quidditch, people look at you like you’re crazy.”
Cal Poly SLO Quidditch is a new addition to the club world, becoming an official club at Cal Poly in October. Mueller is one of the main reasons the club exists, after a long process to make it a reality on campus with animal science senior Jenna Ward, who had previously tried to make Cal Poly SLO Quidditch a certified club.
“The administration was worried about liabilities,” Ward said. “They were hesitant and not very open with me, but Josh got through to them.”
Today, Cal Poly SLO Quidditch is a small club looking to draw more people to the sport.
“Yes, it is an actual sport,” Mueller said. “There’s really nothing else like it. There are aspects of soccer, basketball, rugby, tag and dodgeball — it’s a hodgepodge of all of the games we played as kids.”
The team goes by rules set by the United States Quidditch Rulebook. Multiple colleges such as Stanford, Berkeley and UCLA all have college league teams, Mueller explained, and according to the United States Quidditch website, there is a World Cup held at Stanford every year.
While studying abroad in the United Kingdom for nine months, Ward found the quidditch community to be alive and well.
“I have a slightly different perspective of the sport,” Ward said. “I was studying at St. Andrews and our biggest rivalry was Edinburgh.”
Ward explained that the competition is normally pretty friendly, even in heated rivalries.
“The second the game is over, even after we’ve been pummeling each other, everyone is cheering for the other team,” Ward said. “It’s really nice to see that kind of community you don’t normally see in other sports. There’s a lot of respect.”
Architecture freshman Erika Kessler has either a chaser or beater position on the team and enjoys playing the sport not only because of the respect, but because of the ablility to hang out with friends with common interests.
“We get to exercise together and hang out at the same time,” Kessler said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Kessler also explained the positions of the team.
“It’s a full contact sport and we just have to be careful not to hurt anybody,” Kessler said. “It’s co-ed with an even amount of men and women on the field. There are several positions such as seeker, chaser, beater and a keeper.”
Quidditch also embodies a sense of inclusivity.
“Let’s face it,” Mueller said. “It takes a special type of person to go and play quidditch. Someone who wants to try something new and different.”
Mueller said the team attracts “warm, friendly people,” and that “there’s a true sense of community on and off the field,” a point on which Ward agreed.
“I think it really does a lot to break down barriers between people and let them see each others’ athleticism,” Ward said. “It lets others admire each other despite differences. I think Cal Poly could use more of that — more community.”
No prior “Harry Potter” knowledge is necessary to play the game, Ward said. All types of people are welcome to play, not just “Harry Potter” experts.
“I know lots of people who have never read the books or seen the movies,” Ward said. “They just want to come play.”
Mueller has many hopes for the newly established club, one being to compete in the World Cup.
“At the end of winter quarter, I’d like to have a big enough base where we can set up for smaller teams and have them compete in a little tournament,” Mueller said. “And in spring quarter, hopefully we’ll keep that nice base of players and be able to start playing other colleges and register with the International Quidditch Association.”
Kessler commented on how the introduction of quidditch to Cal Poly proves the breakage of barriers between all types of people, including students and administration.
“This team and the club is a great example of how open this school can be to new things,” Kessler said. “We had enough interest this year in the team and we really put our minds to it.”
As the quidditch community continues to grow, the love and passion for the game are apparent among its players at Cal Poly.
“It’s a combination of so many sports,” Mueller said. “Throw in the zany nature, and the fact that it’s from a fictional book and you just have the workings of an amazing game.”
Cap Poly SLO Quidditch practices 12-3 p.m. on Saturdays at North Mountain.
Correction: A printed version of this article in the newspaper incorrectly referred to Cal Poly SLO Quidditch as a club sport. The group is a club and not affiliated with club sports at Cal Poly.