You May Not Have Received Your Hogwarts Letter, But You Can Still Play Quidditch

You May Not Have Received Your Hogwarts Letter, But You Can Still Play Quidditch

A look into the Muggle world’s most magical sport.
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20 years ago, the world was introduced to a young wizard. 7 books, 8 movies, and 400 million copies sold worldwide later, the inescapable magic has touched lives in a way that surpasses fictitious fantasy. Our culture has become enthralled by “Harry Potter," and millennials have loved the books and movies from a young age.

But while those of us down here are still waiting for our Hogwarts letters, there's a sport waiting to bring a little magic to the Muggle world: Quidditch.

Everyone in our community has a reason for why they started; a love of "Harry Potter," pure curiosity, or an opportunity to poke fun at nerds, but regardless of why you come out, each of us stays for the same reason: the love of the sport.

So here is everything you need to know about Quidditch.

What is Quidditch?

Quidditch is a co-ed full contact sport that has grown over the past 11 years into a competitive, international phenomenon made up of four magic inspired positions, 3 hoops, and over 300 teams in the US alone. It has a strange and unique mix of elements from rugby, dodgeball, basketball, and football. The game looks chaotic and disorganized at first, but once familiar with it, Quidditch is one hell of a sport to play and watch.

(And for the young ones, there is also a kid version called Kidditch)

Do You Fly?

Players on the pitch are required to keep a PVC pipe between their legs at all times in the game to replicate a broom. The PVC (which used to be a real broom before the bristles caused too many injuries) originally did start as a homage to the flying equipment used in the Harry Potter series. As the sport has evolved and grown to be more athletic, however, the 'broom' has been kept as a handicap. Soccer and basketball have dribbling to keep players from charging down the field, Quidditch requires all players to keep a stick between their legs during the game.

Title 9 ¾

Quidditch prides itself on being a co-ed, inclusive sport. Title 9 ¾ of the USQ Rulebook states that only a maximum of 4 players who identify as the same gender may be on the pitch at any given point in the game. That means at least 2 of the players on the pitch at any given time must be of a minority gender to ensure that non-male players receive the same opportunities on the pitch.

The sport focuses on promoting respect for each player regardless of gender identity and leveling the playing field not only in sports but in every aspect of society. This rule allows female and non-binary players a fair chance to shoot, score, hit, tackle, and generally prove how badass they really are.

Basic Rules

Tackling has very serious guidelines to keep players safe. It can only be initiated as one-arm hits from the front and only between players of the same position i.e. Chasers and Chasers, Beaters and Beaters, etc. Players are also only allowed to come in contact with players who are in possession of a ball. Players may stiff-arm, annoy, and grapple with other players of their position without a ball but nothing more.

Each player is also required to wear a mouth guard during gameplay and either a white, black, green, or yellow headband to signify position.

Every Shot Needs a Chaser

Objective: Score goals

Ball: Quaffle

Headband: White

Chasers are perhaps the most physical players in the sport of Quidditch. There are 3 Chasers on the pitch per team at any given time in a game. Their main objective is to throw the Quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) to score points through 1 of the 3 hoops positioned at either side of the pitch. Each goal is worth 10 points. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins so scoring is priority #1 for Chasers.

For most teams, there are three types of Chasers: The “big guy" who uses his size and weight to take down any opponent, the “fast guy" who uses his speed to evade players of the other team and get to the hoops, and finally a female player, who is utilized differently by each team and region.

They're a Keeper

Objective: Score and block

Ball: Quaffle

Headband: Green

Keepers basically glorified Chasers. The Keeper is the goalie of Quidditch who, on defense, has special privileges to help them block the other team from scoring. A special area in front of the hoops is designated as a “Keeper Zone" or a place in which the Keeper cannot be disturbed by other players. In the event of a turn-over and on offense, the Keeper gains possession of the ball and leads the Chasers down the field to score.

On defense, players rely on their Beaters, interference, and physicality to stop the other team from scoring.

Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them

Objective: Gain control of the Bludgers and knock people out of the game

Ball: Bludger

Headband: Black

Beaters are the clever devils of the game. Although athleticism is definitely important, it is intelligence and strategy that drives the Beater game. There are 2 Beaters on the pitch during a game, typically a male and a female known as “Beater Pairs" or “Beater Partners." The Beaters are the first line of defense, armed with Bludgers (slightly deflated dodgeballs) they can hit any player on the pitch with their Bludger in order to momentarily take them out of the game. Players who are hit with a Bludger must drop any ball they are carrying, dismount from their brooms, and run to touch their own hoops before they can rejoin the game.

How Does the Snitch Work?

Objective: Catch the Snitch

Ball: Well, it's really more of a person

Headband: Yellow/gold

While we don't have a tiny, golden flying ball to chase around the pitch, we do have a Snitch, a non-partisan player in golden capture-the-flag shorts, enter the game at 18 minutes. Seekers from either team use wit, speed, and size to attempt to grab the tail off the Snitch Shorts. While a catch in the Harry Potter series is worth 150 points, in the real-world version of Quidditch it amounts to 30 points and ends the game. The difficulty of Seeking is in the battle between players. A Seeker only wants to catch the Snitch if their team is either winning or within 30 points of their opponent to ensure their team wins after the catch. If both teams are in range and capable of winning, it is an all-out war between opposing Seekers to catch the Snitch first. Snitches come in all shapes and sizes and either run from or wrestle with Seekers to keep them from catching. Every 7 minutes a Snitch remains on the pitch, a handicap is applied to aid the Seekers. Many Seekers also play other positions for the first 18 minutes of the game to feel more important.

Which House are You?

Put away those green and red robes because I am sorry to say, dear nerd, we do not play based on the houses of the series. Both college and community teams from all across the globe rep their own team's colors and typically a name that relates to their university or well, anything else they would like.

Some teams do pay respects to our inspiration with names like The Dobbies, Horntails, and many other Harry Potter references but more and more teams are getting away from the world of Harry Potter to embrace the unique sport Quidditch has become in the athletics world. And although we take our sport seriously, we try not to take ourselves so. After all, we do play a sport that was born from a children's book (I say lovingly).

The community doesn't discriminate between Slytherins, Ravenclaws, Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs or those who know nothing of Harry Potter and have no idea what those four words mean. Players can have 20 years' worth of sports experiences behind them. They may have never thrown a ball before. They can be male, female, somewhere in between or nowhere within.

And almost every college in the US has a team!

A word of advice I received from my friend and West Regional Event Coordinator Jessica Ward to those just starting or on the fence about joining “just go to a few practices and give it a shot! You never know how it'll impact your life. It takes patience and tenacity, but every second is worthwhile."

You can learn more about Quidditch or find a team near you here.

Cover Image Credit: Phoebe VanGelder

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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