Quidditch, a game popularized by J.K. Rowling's wildly successful Harry Potter series, saw its first action in Haverhill Monday, as the NECC team met for its first scrimmage.
NECC Director of Student Engagement Dina Brown says she got the idea to bring quidditch to Northern Essex from her cousin, a UMass-Lowell student who plays for the team there. "He said it was a lot of fun," Brown said. "So I said, 'why not try it here?'"
Currently, 225 colleges, universities and high schools across America, Canada and Europe participate in Quidditch leagues. Middlebury College founded the league, which now boasts members from Harvard to Princeton.
"It's really quite popular," Brown said.
While NECC isn't yet in the league, Monday's turnout suggests the demand might necessitate future membership, as 30 students showed up to learn how to play.
Haverhill's Steven Zukofski, a freshman at NECC, ventured to the field hoping to play the role of the "snitch," a position reliant on speed and evasiveness.
"I just wanted to see how fast I could run," Zukofski said. "See if I couldn't be caught. I wanted to test myself."
After the Whittier graduate successfully evaded each team's "seeker," a player solely devoted to capturing the snitch, Zukofski said he enjoyed the experience.
"It's really a fun thing to do," he said.
How to play
On each quidditch team there are three bludgers, two chasers, one keeper and one seeker.
One player, the snitch, belongs to neither team.
There are two types of balls in play: a bludger, used to defend; and a quaffle, thrown by offensive players through one of three hoops at each end of the playing field.
In the Potter books, quidditch is played on flying brooms. Since most college students are muggles (nonmagical), they must run astride their brooms while pretending to fly.
The bludgers essentially play dodgeball in defending their own goals. They throw the two bludger balls and try to hit opposing chasers — the offensive players — who are trying to throw the quaffle through hoops as a means of scoring.
If a chaser is hit by a bludger, he or she must immediately drop the quaffle and return to a home zone.
The keeper is solely responsible for defending the goal, while the seeker roams outside the playing field, looking for the "snitch."
There is a snitch in each game, and each team assigns a seeker to try to find the snitch. If one team captures the snitch, the game is over and that team wins.