It appears that Quidditch may be flying to a college near you.
J.K. Rowling’s fictional sport from the best selling Harry Potter book series has taken off in the muggle—um, I mean non-magical—world. Ever since the books became popular, the longing to find ways to connect with the wizard world has been taken to some interesting heights, especially with the recent release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 1.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know what Quidditch is, here’s a brief summary: It’s a fictional game played on flying broomsticks by wizards and witches. Each team has seven players: a keeper, three chasers, two beaters and a seeker. The game is played with three balls: a quaffle (the ball you score with), bludgers (balls that are jinxed to knock you off your broom) and the golden snitch, which is caught by the seeker for 30 points, bringing about the end of the game. The objects of the game are for the chasers to throw the quaffle through one of three hoops to score points, and for the seeker to catch the snitch. Whichever team has the most points after the snitch is caught is the winner.
Now you must be thinking, How the heck can you play that game in real life? Well, people have found a way. It started with Middlebury College, a small school in Vermont; it had the first collegiate Quidditch team created in the early 2000’s, with the first ever match being held in 2007. They play by holding broomsticks between their legs while running around the pitch (field). The normal rules apply for chasers, who have to score with the quaffle. However, the beaters are simply used to throw “bludgers” at the chasers. If you are hit by a bludger, you have to sit out for a few minutes. However, the snitch isn’t a ball at all–it’s a cross country runner dressed in yellow, who runs around, broom-free, while the seeker chases him down.
Recently, Philadelphia colleges have gotten into the mix of this sport. Chestnut Hill College and Villanova University have established teams, while Drexel University, Temple University, Saint Joe’s and Rowan University are all in the process of forming teams.
New York City held the 4th Annual Quidditch World Cup in November, where Villanova and Chestnut Hill both faired well. Villanova lost to the eventual champions in the quarterfinals, where Chestnut Hill was ousted in the 2nd round.
“Quidditch has grown rapidly over the past few years at the college level. At the 2008 Intercollegiate World Cup hosted by Middlebury College, there were 14 teams participating; this year at the 2010 World Cup, there were over 57 teams registered to participate,” says Lisa Mixon, the media relations manager for Chestnut Hill College athletics. “The International Quidditch Association has also been established to promote the game and to provide information to interested teams”
Even with the success of these two teams, it can be hard to push this sport on some student bodies.
“The school is really taking a long time to get back to us about [whether] they will recognize Quidditch as an official club sport,” says Umar Hafeez, Drexel Quidditch hopeful. “We have been hounding them, but it is a long process I guess.”
Quidditch’s steady growth in Philadelphia can be seen by this past October’s “Brotherly Love Cup,” an intercollegiate Quidditch tournament hosted by Chestnut Hill, in which local teams like Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, and Swarthmore College participated. Since there are so few Quidditch tournaments out there, Philadelphia hosting one is a big deal.
“Quidditch is definitely expanding throughout the Philadelphia area, as well as the rest of the country,” says William Greco, a player on Villanova’s team. “There are already numerous teams around the area like us and Chestnut Hill, and more keep popping up and showing their interest in upcoming tournaments.”
It looks like the magic of Quidditch will be staying in Philly for a while.
You can contact Nick Iuele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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