A window inside life at Augustana College

Brooms, Balls and Bonding: Quidditch at Augustana

First of all, two weeks went by so fast I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted in that long! See, that’s what happens in college if you’re involved in a bunch of activities, you don’t have time to do anything else.

Today, I thought I’d talk about one of the activities that’s keeping me so busy: Quidditch. I’m warning you right now, if you don’t like Harry Potter or haven’t read the books, come back next week because this post is basically going to be about Harry Potter and not much else.

Do you love Harry Potter? Are you still reading? Good for you. I’m assuming that you, dear reader, know all about Quidditch, having read the books and watched the movies. But Muggle Quidditch is a little bit different for two reasons:

1) Muggles can’t fly on broomsticks

I’m sure someone will come up with an idea for Quidditch on hangliders or with jetpacks or something, but until then, we face the facts. You and I, unlike Harry, can’t jump on a broom and whiz off. So, we ordinary Muggles run around on brooms. That’s right. We mount our brooms like Harry and Malfoy, and then run instead of fly. I’m sure we probably look a bit silly, but we’re willing to do what it takes to express our love for the Potterverse.

2) Since we’re Muggles, we can’t enchant balls to fly either.

The Quaffle’s easy, because it doesn’t do much flying on its own anyway. The Chasers throw it (in Muggle Quidditch, a volleyball) to each other, and through hoops which the Keeper defends, so there are no major problems there. But it’s when we get to the Bludgers and the Snitch that we begin to have issues. Bludgers fly around trying to unseat as many players as possible. In Muggle Quidditch, the Beaters throw dodgeballs at opposing team members (except the Keeper unless he/she is outside the Keeper’s box). If you or your broom gets hit by a Bludger, you have to touch your own goalposts and then return to the action, which gives your team a bit of a disadvantage since they’re now missing a player. Bludger problem solved. And now, things get interesting. Because the Snitch can’t be thrown around. It’s supposed to be a walnut-sized ball that flies around – very difficult to see and nearly impossible to catch. Now, in Muggle Quidditch… wait for it… the Snitch is a human. A cross-country runner or a wrestler dresses in yellow and can do anything (within reason) to stop the Snitch being caught. They can leave the field, climb a tree, hide in the audience, wrestle the Seeker to the ground, whatever. And you don’t just have to tag the Snitch to end the game. What you have to “catch” is a tennis ball in a sock tucked into the back of the Snitch’s shorts.

So there you go. That’s a very brief outline of how Quidditch is played. You can download detailed rules from the International Quidditch Association’s website. You can also watch videos of last year’s Quidditch World Cup Final (parts 1 and 2). But why play Quidditch? And at Augustana?

1) However much “real athletes” may scoff, Quidditch is a full-contact sport and gives you a great workout.

I’m really not the sort of person who enjoys running or working out just to work out. You run A LOT in Quidditch – up and down the field because you’ve only got five people total (three Chasers, two Beaters) to attack and defend. And Keepers throw themselves around trying to block shots, so they get a workout too.

Fact: Everyone on the Augustana Quidditch team has been injured (minorly) at least once at practice. I myself have been hit in the face with a broom and an elbow, and got rubber burn from dropping to my knees so much to save goals (I play Keeper, by the way). We’ve had broken nails, sprained wrists, and countless bruises. Therefore, safety equipment is a must. Really.

2) We’re all nerds together

We recently had a social at our captain’s house (she blogs too, by the way), and it was incredible. The chances are that Harry Potter fans are members of multiple other fandoms too. So, we ended up having awesome discussions about comics, anime, the Lord of the Rings, the Inheritance Cycle and a lot of other nerdy things too. No one judges. In fact, if you mention something nerdy, chances are someone else has heard of it/loves it too!

If you can’t already tell, I love being part of the Quidditch team. It’s the most welcoming, fun bunch of people I know on campus. I’m often still amazed at how a completely non-sporty person like me, who’s never been involved in an organized sport in my life, is now a fully-functioning member of a Quidditch team. That’s what college is for, I guess. To explore stuff you never would have done before.

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