After brandishing shirts on Bruin Walk and broomsticks on the Intramural Field, UCLA’s club Quidditch team is about to seek its first title at the World Cup tournament in New York in November.
The World Cup tournament, which began five years ago, is hosted by the International Quidditch Association. Besides the $200 registration fee for the tournament, the team needed to raise about $8,000 for travel and lodging.
Selling their popular team shirts on Bruin Walk, the team successfully raised more than $10,000 after selling out of shirts earlier this week.
“It’s a great excuse for me to come up with really bad (Harry Potter) jokes on Bruin Walk,” said Asher King Abramson, a third-year psychology student and Beater for the team.
Abramson, who said he has a minor in “Muggle Studies,” said most students laugh when they passed by their table on Bruin Walk, even if they did not buy a shirt.
This will be the first World Cup appearance for the team since captain Tom Marks founded it three years ago. Marks heard about the sport from a friend at Middlebury College, where it was originally established.
Marks, a third-year Design | Media Arts student, said he immediately began working to get Quidditch recognized as an official club sport.
Since its start, UCLA’s team has continued to gain ground as a legitimate sport and has grown to 34 official members on the roster and weekly practices.
The team is now ranked second in the western region and 14th internationally by the International Quidditch Association.
Last weekend, UCLA went up against rival USC, sweeping the Trojans 90 to 0 in the third and final set.
Abramson said he is confident the team will make it to the final elimination bracket at the Cup.
While the only requirement for the Cup is signing up for registration, Western Regional Director Harrison Homel said game procedures will eventually change to reflect those of more traditional sports.
The association is shifting to a model that is more supportive of regular conference play, said Homel, a fourth-year political science student.
He added that the regional tournaments will become qualifiers for the Cup as a result of increased participation. This year, the number of teams participating in the Cup rose from about 46 last year to 100 teams.
Homel said students become involved because of Quidditch’s association with Harry Potter, as well as athletes who take it as a serious sport.
All three team members said the diverse crowd Quidditch attracts is the most important aspect, however.
“It’s people just coming together to make this amazing sport ““ that otherwise wouldn’t exist ““ because of books,” Abramson said.