Heads bowed and knees bent on the ground, the whole team nervously clutches the handles of their brooms tighter. After what seems to be an eternity, a sudden call pierces through the silence. “The Snitch has been released! Brooms Up!” A rapid frenzy ensues, with each person trying to reach the ball, assist a teammate, or go for the goal. A game of Quidditch has begun, but not at Hogwarts.
Quidditch is one of the defining activities of the Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix Club that junior and president Jill Chow inherited as a freshman. Under Chow and junior and vice president Ying Chen’s leadership, the club has evolved from plain movie-watching into reenactments of Harry Potter-inspired activities. Such activities include Potter trivia, a reenactment of the Yule Ball, and most importantly, playing Quidditch. “I’m really thrilled about the attention that the club has been receiving this year and hope to implement traditions that our successors will keep,” Chow said.
In the case of Quidditch, the club’s team, named the Horntails, is currently comprised of approximately 16 players who attend practice regularly. During their season, which begins in April and lasts until October, practice sessions are held twice a week outdoors. Off-season, practice is held twice a month. Admission is based on the enthusiasm and commitment of the individual. “You just have to be dedicated and willing to try anything,” Chen said.
This determination is vital in a game of Quidditch, in which the goal is to catch the snitch and to obtain a higher score than the opposing team. The Horntails, Stuyvesant’s Quidditch team, splits into two teams that play against each other for games. In accordance to the rules dictated in the Potter series, beaters are responsible for protecting the offensive players, chasers for scoring goals with the Quaffle, keepers for defending the goal, and seekers for catching the snitch. Aspects such as the flying snitch and bludger in Rowling’s books are compensated for with a snitch runner and a dodgeball. A snitch runner is an individual who runs with the snitch, a tennis ball, on the back of his or her shorts. The task of the seeker is to fully remove the snitch from the snitch runner’s possession. The seeker that manages to do this first ends the game, and in most cases, secures the victory for the team.
Despite the fact that Quidditch is rising in popularity, with some colleges now offering scholarships for Quidditch similar to scholarships offered for sports such as baseball or basketball, the existence of the sport outside of the wizarding world still remains unknown to many. Whenever Chen attempts to spread her enthusiasm for her club, she is met with, “‘Quidditch? What’s that?’” she said. “And then after I explain that it’s the sport that Harry Potter plays, I’m usually asked to demonstrate my flying.” Others find that having to hold a broom between their legs is less than appealing. But nevertheless, the players regard the sport with optimism and pride.
“At times, we really feel like we’re in the magical world of Harry Potter,” freshman Jessica Ma said. “Although Quidditch sometimes doesn’t receive the respect that it deserves, it really is special and exclusive.”
The club has also recently begun a variation of the Yule Ball that has quickly became a popular tradition for the club. For the last two years, it has been held in a nearby café where the club members made butterbeer and other Harry Potter treats. Alumni Tracy Wong (’11) and Leeza Torres (’11) even came back to join their old club members this year to perform wizard rock music. As at the Yule Balls of Hogwarts, members of the club get a chance to bond through their similar interests. “The club is like a family,” senior Serina Chiew said. “There are the smart-alecks, the parents, the childish [members], and then the ones who will be embarrassed by the others’ antics but wouldn’t want to miss [the Yule ball] for anything. The club really is one of a kind.”
Even with the current success of the club, Chow is continuously looking for new ways to improve it and expand its activities. As of now, Chow is planning on beginning Jeopardy games next year, in which the audience would guess the team that ate the nastier jelly beans based on their acting, as well as opening the Yule Ball to non-club members in an even better venue. The club has gained popularity for its unique antics that allows Harry Potter fans to continue to show their love for the series, even if the characters have bid adieu.