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Funky Quaffles introduce Quidditch to Long Beach State

Funky Quaffles introduces part of the Wizarding World to Long Beach.

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Funky Quaffles introduce Quidditch to Long Beach State

Long Beach Funky Quaffles Quidditch Team member Anthony Hawkins runs past team members Darrel Miller and Jackson Shulz.

Long Beach Funky Quaffles Quidditch Team member Anthony Hawkins runs past team members Darrel Miller and Jackson Shulz.

Bobby Yagake

Long Beach Funky Quaffles Quidditch Team member Anthony Hawkins runs past team members Darrel Miller and Jackson Shulz.

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Long Beach Funky Quaffles Quidditch Team member Anthony Hawkins runs past team members Darrel Miller and Jackson Shulz.

Nubia Valdez, Staff Writer

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Long Beach Funky Quaffles are not just any sports team. They’re not playing football or soccer like any other “muggle” sport. Instead, they have brought one of the most beloved games from a book series into real life: Quidditch.

While Quidditch was adopted from the “Harry Potter” series and has been a real life sport since 2005, the Long Beach chapter was not created until April 2013. After watching an unofficial North Hollywood team play, Funky Quaffles founder Justin Magriaga decided he loved the sport so much that he wanted to create his own team. He found other people that were interested in playing by posting flyers on Reddit, and from there he began to build his team.

The name “Funky Quaffles” started as a joke between the team. A Quaffle, one of the balls used in the game, is a usually spherical ball with indents on the side. There was a volleyball the team used as one of the Quaffles early on, but it was misshapen so they would call it “funky.” The name stuck with them.

Muggle, or non-magic, Quidditch is pretty similar to what is read in the “Harry Potter” books or seen in the movies, give or take a few exceptions.

All the positions played in the series are played in real life too: three Chasers, one Seeker, two Beaters and one Keeper.

Three balls are used during the game, one Quaffle and two Bludgers. The most important item to catch, however, is the Golden Snitch. Unlike the series where the Snitch is a small, flying orb, the real-life snitch is  a flag is connected to a player. Seekers strive to grab the flag, and once they do, the game automatically ends.  

There are obviously no flying broomsticks involved. Instead, players have full contact with other players and run while holding pipes in between their legs just to make the sport a little harder. Teams used to use miniature broomsticks, but have since removed them because they would like to make Quidditch a well known sport to everyone – rather than just to fans who recognize it from the series.

Anyone can join the Funky Quaffles, which is now entering its fourth season. The team, comprised of “Harry Potter” fans and sports aficionados, is made up of students from colleges in the area, graduates, members of  the Long Beach community and even people as far as San Diego and Irvine.

The team’s manager and Chaser Jessica Ward, an English major at Long Beach City College, decided to let her love for “Harry Potter” come out and checked out a game after seeing a flyer in a coffee shop the first year the team was around.

“I thought it was honestly going to be a bunch of geeks running around. I came on my first day and they were doing tackling practice and it sort of changed my perspective,” Ward said. “‘Harry Potter’ brought me out, but the game itself is what kept me here.”

A season for Quidditch starts in August and goes until late June or early July. It is a combination of regular season where teams compete to go to nationals, as well as fantasy tournaments where teams can be split up and play on other teams for the weekend. It gives players a chance to meet new people and learn new strategies.

Because of the popularity of the sport, an International Quidditch Association and United States Quidditch were made. IQA is the governing body of Quidditch internationally, consisting of over 500 teams in 26 countries. USQ is in charge of the teams in the United States with almost 200 teams nationwide.

The Funky Quaffles has been able to travel around the country, visiting Texas, Utah and Arizona. If the team makes it to nationals this year, it will travel to Florida to compete. The farthest the Long Beach Funky Quaffles have gone in tournaments was the World Cup – now called nationals – in 2013.

Players do have to pay out of their own pocket in order to travel, so they hold fundraisers and sell T-shirts to cover costs. Every year, the team holds a presentation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in past years held at CSULB’s University Player’s Theatre. The ticket sale money is used for travel expenses.

Fans have invited the team to perform at birthday parties or “Harry Potter” events. One event called “Kidditch” is where they teach little kids how to play the game.

“Harry Potter” fans are the sport’s biggest support.

“I appreciate the heart the fans have put in [the game.] So many of these people come here just from being primarily ‘Harry Potter’ fans, not having played many sports or anything before,” team co-captain Sam Weisser said. “Because of their love of ‘Harry Potter’, it’s pushed them to actually train for a sport for the first time and it’s really cool to see that.”

Matt Suei, education major at Cal State Long Beach, found out about the Funky Quaffles during Week of Welcome last year.

“I saw the hoops and it looked like a lot of fun, to be honest,” Suei said, who is currently on his second season with the team. “While I’m in school, it’s a fun extracurricular and it keeps me busy and exercising.”

The Funky Quaffles practice at Whaley Park every Sunday.

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