If you needed to know how to get to Platform 9 3-4, or tips on how to brew a Polyjuice potion, or what exactly a grindylow is, you might want to ask the University of Maryland’s quidditch team.
The die-hard assembly of Potter-maniacs convened Thursday night for the midnight premiere of the final film in J.K. Rowling’s epic saga, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2.
Almost a dozen members of the team gathered at the Prince George's Plaza theater Thursday evening for the thrilling conclusion to the eight-movie series.
Understandably, some had mixed emotions about the finale.
“It’s very exciting but it’s also kind of sad. We’ve been with the series since elementary school … It’s almost like our childhood is ending,” said Arsh Agarwal, a junior biology student and a member of Maryland’s quidditch team.
Quidditch is a sport featured in Rowling’s Potter series that involves flying on broomsticks and throwing balls through hoops to score points. The game has become popular in non-magical circles, with the flying element replaced by running while carrying a broomstick.
Maryland’s team, called the Maryland Flying Wizard Turtles, was founded in 2009, and launched in 2010.
The team currently has over 30 members, a monthly newsletter called The Maryland Aeropin, and is ranked 50th globally by the International Quidditch Association.
Rachael Lavin, founder of the Flying Wizard Turtles, said she was surprised at how quickly the team took off, considering it started off as three kids throwing a volleyball on broomsticks.
While quidditch was brought to Maryland as sort of an ode to Rowling’s popular books, members have found that the team is as much about building a community of fans as it is about exercise.
“It’s a fun, relaxed atmosphere. We’re almost like a family. We get dinner together, hang out together, have sleepovers and pool parties,” said Rebecca Martin, a senior psychology student.
The team’s vice president, Sarah Woolsey, said that there are even couples that have been brought together as a result of meeting on the quidditch field.
In addition to camaraderie, Maryland quidditch players have plenty of team traditions, including a song that is a revised version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme, and a game called Basilisk-Acromantula that combines elements of tag and dodgeball.
Maryland’s team is a part of the International Quidditch Association, a worldwide organization with over 500 teams, including 300 in the United States.
The IQA is responsible for maintaining the rules and regulations of quidditch, most of which can be found in the official rulebook.