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A Spooky Celeb Special: Quidditch Captain, Jackie

This Halloween, Her Campus chatted to Jackie, captain of Durhamstrang (Durham Uni’s top Quidditch team) to find out what it is like playing a broomstick related sport…

If you want to see Durham contest the regional championships head to Belmont School this weekend.
 
Photo Credit: Fiona Howat
Is it surreal being captain of a quidditch team?
 
Honestly, no. I’ve been playing the sport for two years now and I very rarely think of it as “Quidditch” with a capital Q. It’s become an integrated aspect of my lifestyle, just like any other sport would.
 
 
In terms of captaining the task is the same as any other sport too. Organisation, team building and connecting with players on a personal level.
 
Having captained for hockey teams before it’s a role I felt confident to take on, but in my mind there’s certainly no distinction between captaining hockey or quidditch. 
 
All that being said, telling people you captain a quidditch team is always fun, and the reactions you get… those are probably the most surreal part.
 
 
So what do people say when you tell them you captain a Quidditch team?
 
Reactions can be categorised in two ways. Disbelief (mixed with disdain) or curiosity. Both of which usually result in the same questions: “How does the snitch work?” and “How do you fly?”.
The best reactions are when people get really interested in the game dynamics and tactics, because that’s the fascinating part that really makes you appreciate the intricacies of the sport.
 
 
What are your socials like? Do you dress up like in Harry Potter or is it completely separate?
Totally separate. I believe our leaflets at Freshers this year read, “This is not Harry Potter Society. Come here to tackle and be tackled.” And I stand by that. 
If you want to go dress up like Harry Potter there’s a perfectly valid Durham society to accommodate that, it’s just not us. Our socials are much like any other sports’. Varying themes, optional drinking, and (hopefully) team bonding.
 
Is there quite a lot of rivalry between your two teams?
 
We’ve only just set up our second team this year so at the moment there’s certainly no rivalry. They’re our second team so I’d say it’s very much a sibling-like relationship. We’ve got regionals this weekend and any match we’re not playing you can be sure we’ll be cheering/coaching them from the sidelines. And vice-versa. We want to see them develop and do well as much as they do us.
 
What is your second team called?
 
Durham Direwolves.
 
 
Interesting choice, do you know why that was chosen?
 
Direwolves was taken on a vote at our last AGM. We’d accepted ideas from all club members (including a lot of in-jokes that I’m very happy weren’t voted in!). 
 
It’s a bit of a throwback to our team chant last year, which was “King in the North” after we won the Highlander Cup at the start of our season. Obviously there’s the Game of Thrones connection there. 
 
But mainly just because the real life direwolves were hardy creatures that survived northern temperatures. It seemed appropriately badass.
 
 
Does anyone recognise you as captain or as being involved in Quidditch when you’re around Durham?
 
All of my friends from varying societies know that I play quidditch, because I never shut up about it. And if you’re lugging hoops to practice people sometimes stop you because they can see the equipment and make the connection. But no, I’ve never been recognised personally as captain (thankfully. That would be surreal.)
 
 
Last question now! I know quidditch is a mixed sport, are there a lot of women in the teams?
 
Yes! There’s actually a specific rule that states that any team can only have a maximum of 4 out of 6 of the majority gender on pitch at any one time. Or 5 out of 7 if the seeker is on pitch. 
 
Which means you see 5 ft something girls flooring towering rugby players. It’s brilliant and such a confidence boost. It’s especially gratifying seeing people new to contact sport coming in and gaining the skills and confidence to put in big hits regardless of their opponent’s size.
 
I should also note that the sport’s rules are written such that they’re gender inclusive. You’ll note I said 4 maximum and not two minimum, because it isn’t assumed that the remaining two players will identify within the gender binary. The sport is quite progressive in that sense!
 
Emma Yeo is a history student at Durham University in England. As well as writing for lots of the student publications at the uni, she is currently writing a novel about a time travelling young heroine.
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