This past weekend marked the fifth annual Quidditch World Cup. Held on Randall’s Island in New York, the competition brought together 150 worldwide college teams, from Iceland, Finland, Australia, Canada, to good ole’ Duke. But, hold on—what’s Quidditch, you say?
In 2005, a few Middlebury college students adapted the game of Quidditch from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as the answer to a lazy Sunday afternoon. Since then, the sport has spread to over 300 universities around the nation and over 20 countries across the globe. In order to adapt the magical game to real life play, players run around with brooms between their legs, basically playing according to the same rules within the books. There are Keepers who guard the hoops, Chasers who try to score by tossing a Quaffle through the hoops, Beaters who “Bludgeon” players with a dodge-ball, and of course a Seeker who catches the golden Snitch to end the game. This game also involves heavy physical contact (tackling, tripping, etc) and finesse in handling broomsticks. It’s a cross between rugby, lacrosse, soccer, and cross country.
That’s all fine and dandy, but how does one handle the concept of the Snitch? In Harry Potter, the Snitch is a tiny golden fluttering object that Harry and the Seekers must catch in order to end the game. In the Muggle version of Quidditch, the Snitch is an athlete who dresses in yellow or gold and runs around campus with a tennis ball in a sock. In order to “catch” this Snitch, Seekers have to snatch this sock from the waistband of the Snitch’s shorts. This proves to be more difficult than it sounds: the Snitch is usually a wrestler/cross country runner/ gymnast/ prankster and makes it as difficult as he (or she!) can to prevent being caught. (Duke Quidditch starting chaser Elana Yaacob posing with one of the World Cup Snitches pictured on the right.)
The best part of this game? It’s co-ed! The gender ratio of the teams on the field must be 5-2 at all times, meaning we girls have as much of a stake in this game as the guys—and for some of our collegiettes, that means developing the strength and fitness to stack up against the other gender. Noting how the girls of Duke Quidditch train and compete against opposing teams, this doesn’t seem to pose the slightest problem.
After getting their start nearly two and a half short years ago, Duke Quidditch managed to make their way to year’s World Cup competition. The team made it to the quarterfinals in Division Two before losing in a close match with SUNY Fredona.
Co-founder and President, Chloe Rockow, had the following comments about the team’s World Cup experience.
Kirsten Walther: So as president of Duke Quidditch, how was your experience with the 2011 World Cup?
Chloe Rockow: It was awesome. We had a really good time even though we didn’t win, and I think we learned a lot from watching other teams play and playing ourselves—we’re excited to go back next year and apply what we learned.
KW: Has it been exciting to see your team develop pretty much out of an idea?
CR: Yeah! It’s been crazy to think about two years ago when we had our first Quidditch practice and there were three people there—and that was with one person I had to drag there—and then to go from that to being a competitive team at the World Cup is just incredible. And especially watching some of the other teams play throughout the day, I was really impressed at our athleticism and how well we could compare to other teams. [I could see] how much we’ve grown even since just the beginning of this year.
KW: One final question: if you could let anyone outside of Quidditch know something about the team or the sport, what would you tell them?
CR: I guess just that it’s so much more about winning games or winning tournaments—it’s about making friends. If you just let go of your inhibitions and don’t think about how silly it is running around with a broom between your legs, then it’s a fun experience that [lets] you make lasting memories.
So, collegiettes, even if you decide Quidditch is not your thing, we can take this inspiration from Quidditch: sometimes, it’s not about how far-fetched an idea may seem, or how silly others may think you are—if you’re doing something you love and having fun while doing it, then something incredible happens—you build a life full of memories! And for all you girl Quidditch players, we at Her Campus think it’s awesome you can tough it out with the boys, and dare we say it, show them how it’s done!
PS: Duke Quidditch is also hosting their second annual Yule Ball on December third in the Great Hall (how fitting). Even if you don’t want to fly around campus chasing after a Snitch, come to the Yule Ball (open to the entire campus) to dance your socks off. A source tells me there will be a magical assortment of cauldron cakes, pumpkin pasties, chocolate frogs, as well as some jammin’ tunes and winter wonderland decorations. Get excited!
For more information on the International Quidditch Association, go to http://www.internationalquidditch.org/