They don’t fly or use magic, but they do ride brooms, and any discussion of their sport will be peppered with terms like “quaffle,” “bludger,” and “snitch.”
They are the real-life muggles who play quidditch, the sport of Harry Potter, and two local college players are preparing to represent the United States in an international competition in July.
Allison Gillette, who just graduated from Emerson College, and Kedzie Teller, a Boston University grad, are among 21 players selected from 150 nominees across the country to play in the Quidditch Summer Games in Oxford, England.
While there is a Quidditch World Cup for college teams each year in the United States, this tournament will mark the first time national teams have been assembled for a truly international competition. Teams from Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the US are confirmed for the competition, said Keller, 22, a former captain of the BU team.
And while quidditch certainly isn’t an Olympic sport yet, this tournament will part of Oxford’s official torch ceremony on July 9 and 10.
Teller said there’s something special about being part of a new and growing sport, even if he does have to explain it frequently — and sometimes endure giggles.
“Within the quidditch community, you have to understand that there’s a different camaraderie than there is with, let’s say soccer or hockey, because essentially we’re building this sport from the ground up,” he said.
“I think you couldn’t really put a Team USA together that’s any better than the one we’ve selected,” Teller said.
According the International Quidditch Association website, the sport was adapted for real-world play by Middlebury College students in 2005 and is now played at more than 300 colleges and high schools in 13 countries.
Here’s how it works: Each team has seven players on the field. Three chasers try to put the quaffle (a volleyball) through one of three hoops and thus earn 10 points, but each side has a keeper who tries to block the chasers.
Meanwhile, two defensive players called beaters use bludgers (dodgeballs) to tag members of the other team, forcing them to retreat to their goals before returning to the game.
Each team has a seeker who attempts to catch the snitch, a player with a tennis ball in a sock attached to his or her waistband. The game ends when a seeker is able to snag that tennis ball, worth 30 points.
Teller’s position is chaser, while Gillette is a beater. Both came to quidditch from more traditional sports. Gillette, 22, was a four-season varsity athlete in high school but came to Emerson wanting to participate in a sport that would leave time for her studies. When she heard about the quidditch team, the Harry Potter fan knew it would be a great fit.
Gillette feels confident in Team USA, in part because there are so many more teams in this country to pull top talent from, but she said being on the team also puts a target on their backs.
“Definitely wearing the red white and blue is going to … give us an advantage, but at the same time, everyone is going to be out for us,” she said.