BEING chased by men and women on broomsticks in front of thousands of fans as teams battle it out to become quidditch world champions is a fate you would expect for someone attending Hogwarts.
For Kidderminster student Nicole Stone, however, it will be a reality when she takes part as a “snitch runner” at the Quidditch World Cup in South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6.
Her neutral role replaces the snitch – a flying ball which players must catch to end the game – in the sport’s fictional version.
The 21-year-old University of Reading student, of Land Oak Drive, has been on a magical journey since 2012, from die-hard Harry Potter fan to representing the QuidditchUK governing body on the snitch development team of the International Quidditch Assocation (IQA) and earning an invitation to the tournament in the United States.
The cup will feature 80 teams, mainly representing North American universities, but the UK team will not be competing after struggling to raise funds.
Despite this disappointment, Nicole said national UK interest was growing and added: “I am definitely not going to stop playing.
“In a few years anything could happen and it is going to get bigger here.”
She said she wanted to encourage Wyre Forest schools to play, adding: “I want to try and do something with a school – it would be nice to do an event somewhere in Kidderminster playing the non-contact version called kidditch.”
Quidditch has been adapted from the world-famous book and film series and is a cross between rugby, basketball and dodgeball. The “snitch runner” is a neutral athlete, who carries the snitch in a waistband – replacing the fictional version’s flying object – dodging each team’s “seeker”.
Nicole, 5ft 2ins tall and known as the “little snitch,” said: “I cannot wait. For this tournament, there will be several thousand people there and I am hoping a couple of Harry Potter film stars might turn up.
“There will be pressure on me – the last time the Americans saw us play [at a 2012 summer tournament in Oxford] we were all beginners, so I feel I have to prove myself.”
The game differs slightly from JK Rowling’s version. The positions are the same – chasers, beaters, seekers and keepers – and there are three hoops, a quaffle (the ball) and a bludger (a dodgeball). Catching the snitch ends the game.
It is a full contact sport with Chasers using the “quaffle” to score goals by shooting through any hoop. Beaters use “bludgers” to temporarily knock other players out of the game. There are seven players on the field and there must be a minimum of two males and two females on the pitch at any one time.
For more information, visit facebook.com/QuidditchUK