Joining a growing number of Harry Potter fans-turned-athletes across the U.S., Evan Bell founded the Santa Barbara Blacktips last month, a team dedicated to the magical sport of Quidditch.
Adapted from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the sport includes aspects of dodgeball, hockey, water polo and soccer, but also requires each player to hold a broomstick between his or her legs throughout the game. The Blacktips practice every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Girsh Park in Goleta; games are open to participants of all ages and athletic backgrounds.
Bell, an experienced player, said he saw the lack of organized Quidditch at UCSB as an ideal opportunity to start up a team.
“I started off playing for college in Colorado. I felt that UCSB would be perfect candidate for a school to recruit members,” Bell said.
Much like the wizarding sport, this gravity-restricted version of the game has four positions — chasers, beaters, keepers and seekers — who each have a specific role to play in the game. The general goal is for the chasers to get the ball, known as the quaffle, through one of three hoops of different heights on each side of the field while avoiding balls thrown at them by the beaters. Meanwhile, the seeker is tasked with catching the snitch, which is, in this adaptation, a tennis ball placed in a yellow sock and strapped to the back of a neutral party who runs around the field.
Blacktips member Michael Montgomery said he joined the squadron to combine his Harry Potter fandom with his desire to get fit.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Harry Potter,” Montgomery said. “Early in summer I saw people playing Quidditch … it’s everything I wanted in a sport.”
Lee Weinsoff, who joined the team at its start in July, said the full-contact sport can be fiercely competitive but brings teammates together in raucous camaraderie.
“I really want to get in shape so I joined and it was everything I dreamed of and more,” Weinhoff said. “It brought out a competitive side of me, but we’re all really close now,” Weinhoff said.
According to Bell, the International Quidditch Association played an integral role in helping the UCSB team get started. Now, Bell said, there are consistently 10 to 12 people at every practice and each time, members bring more friends and help the team grow.
Recent UCSB graduate Lauren Mosley said the team is a great opportunity to socialize and try something new.
“I just graduated from UCSB and I’d been interested in Quidditch for a long time,” Mosley said. “When I heard someone was starting [a team] here and I got really excited. I like having a brand new social group. It’s fun and people are really nice and everyone gets along.”