Soton Tab caught up with Jemma Thripp, whose quidditch talent has sent her from playing for Southampton University to representing the UK in international competitions. Finishing in a respectable fourth place, Jemma tells us all the important info, like where the team buy their broomsticks, and the moment she sold her soul to Quidditch (not Voldemort).
You’ve recently been to Los Angeles AND Canada taking part in the quidditch Global Games. What was that like?
It was an amazing adventure and for someone who has never flown before it was quite daunting at first. Playing quidditch with an American team at the West Fantasy tournament in Los Angeles was a lot of fun and was great to play with players like Audrey White and Chris Seto who also played for Team USA. Global Games itself was a bit of roller-coaster, I did a lot of yelling and lost my voice, but the next Global Games will be in 2016 and I would really love to relive the experience again.
Any funny stories from touring?
On a night out, me and a team mate, Alex Greenhalgh, made some tacos and we just added loads of sauce which was actually ridiculously hot… I think there’s a video of that somewhere. We spent an evening on English beach in Vancouver where we spent ages dragging a log out of the water and up onto the beach – I don’t think we even sat on it all that much in the end. We also ended up teaching the Canadian police how to play a game called Ninja in the dark.
What quidditch position do you play and what does it involve?
I am a chaser which involves using the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) to score through one of the three hoops at the end of the pitch, while avoiding bludgers (dodgeballs) which force you to dismount from your broom. I also have to defend our hoops by tackling players or intercepting passes.
What’s the hardest thing about playing quidditch?
I think at the start it is very difficult to get your head around the sport and understand how it is played, because initially it looks a bit chaotic. But once I understood how to play, the difficult bit for me was tackling and being confident enough to tackle people bigger than me. Because if you’re not confident in your tackling, that’s when you get hurt.
How did you begin playing the sport?
My friend got given a leaflet for the Southampton quidditch club at the Freshers; Fayre and I went with her to try it out. I had a lot of fun playing as a beater during a taster session and then got really addicted to the sport when I tried chasing. Within a month of playing quidditch we went to the first ever British Quidditch Cup (BQC) and came fourth and I think that’s when I sold my soul to quidditch.
Where do you and your teammates buy your broomsticks?
At the moment Southampton make our own brooms, they are just pvc piping cut to size. In competitions, especially in the US, we tend to use Alivan’s brooms which are proper wooden brooms that look like something out of the Harry Potter books, but we have to order those from American which can be quite expensive. Hopefully as the sport grows brooms will become more available.
It’s a huge sport in America. Do you think it’ll ever be as big in the UK?
I think it will take a bit longer to get to the same level as in the US who have leagues and divisions already and where the average standard of quidditch is higher, but I think it will get there. This year quidditch in the UK has really grown and I’ve seen the standard of play improve ridiculously since BQC. I am really looking forward to seeing it grow and hopefully being a part of that.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to take up quidditch as a sport?
Do it. It may seem really ridiculous but once you’ve had a go or seen the sport played you really understand how competitive and exciting this sport is. On November 8th-9th 2014 Southampton quidditch club will be hosting the where 8 teams will be attending, so if you are unsure about joining quidditch come along and watch and see if it’s for you or attend one of our training sessions.
For more info on quidditch in Southampton check out our WHATSOC.
If you’re interested in joining Southampton University’s quidditch team and channelling your inner wizard, visit their Facebook page