QUIDDITCH…Mount your broomsticks! Every Sunday and Wednesday, Vassar transforms into Hogwarts Academy when students, toting brooms and a volleyball quaffle, take to Joss Beach for a friendly game of quidditch. The sport, which was created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series, has taken off at college campuses nationwide. Vassar’s team, the Butterbeer Brewers, already has close to 30 members.
“It’s hilarious and so much fun to be running around on brooms as Muggles,” says Conrad Schott ’11, who has become the unofficial team captain. “It’s really fun translating the game from the books and seeing it work so well as a sport.” Woodrow Travers ’09 introduced the Vassar Muggles to the sport earlier in the year after visiting his friend Xander Manshel at Middlebury College. Manshel, who wrote the original rules of quiddich, encouraged Travers to bring the sport back to Vassar. The game, which has spread to at least 15 other schools (there’s even an Intercollegiate Quidditch Association), has already garnered the attention of the Wall Street Journal and ESPN The Magazine. The players were recently interviewed by USA Today following the November 11 World Cup at Middlebury.
The rules of the game are closely translated from the Harry Potter series, though the role of the snitch (which flies on its own in the books) is assumed by a cross country runner, who is free to run or hide anywhere on campus, but must return to the field every 10 minutes. Each team has seven players who must run with broomsticks between their legs at all times. “The brooms definitely serve as an extra obstacle,” says Travers. “It changes the way you run, and it’s challenging to only have one hand free.”
Other equipment includes two-by-fours that stick in the ground with hula-hoops attached as goals. The snitch carries a sock spray-painted gold that holds a tennis ball and is taped to the back of his shorts. It’s the seeker’s job to catch the snitch and retrieve the ball, signaling the end of the game. In the meantime, three chasers pass the quaffle (a volleyball), trying to score through the hoops. A keeper defends the hoops as two beaters throw bludgers (dodgeballs) at the opposing team.
In early November, Vassar’s quidditch team went head-to-head with Middlebury for the World Cup. Players donned bright pink capes sporting a giant “V” and other “wizarding touches” that were created and sewn together by Schott’s mom. “The World Cup was a blast, even though Middlebury murdered us,” says Schott with a laugh. “They’d been playing for three years, and we’ve been at it for three weeks, so I guess it makes sense. We have to keep practicing because, in quidditch, anything goes. It’s similar to rugby. You can tackle and do whatever you need to do to get the ball.”
“Quidditch is pretty unique,” adds Travers. “It’s like a combination of literature, physical activity, and Halloween.”