You can find them on lower field, practicing hard. They warm-up, choose sides, and start a scrimmage. They could be any ol’ sports team, except the game they’re play comes straight out of the magical world. With broomsticks between their legs, and bludgers clutched in their hands, this group of sports-stars is bringing Quidditch to McGill.
Quidditch, a once fictional sport confined to the Harry Potter series, is difficult to explain. It is a mix of rugby, basketball, and dodgeball on broomsticks, with the main goal being to “seek out” a small golden ball, the snitch. Now that the rules have been adapted for non-magical, non-flying participants, McGill students are joining in.
If you think this is some elaborate joke, you’re not the only one.
“Usually – when we tell them what we’re doing – people’s first reaction is ‘are you kidding me’ and the next reaction is ‘this must be a joke,’” said Karen Kumaki, U0, a founding member, and the Gringott’s Goblin of the club at McGill.
The novelty, and of course, the absurdity, of the game is enough to gather a group of spectators at each practice. They stop by to catch a glimpse, and a laugh, as the team plays.
“It looked a little ridiculous, we wanted a photo,” said Tony Kwan, a McGill student who had sat down to watch the game.
Other spectators wanted to get in on the action. “It looks challenging to [play with] a broom. I like it, I’m jealous,” said Jake Hoffman, an avid Harry Potter fan.
The club was started by six first- year students just three weeks ago and has yet to get official SSMU status. Still, 30 people attended the last practice, nearly 100 people are in the facebook group, and the local dollar store is sold out of broomsticks.
One member, Clara Thaisson, had a decorated broom and a lightning bolt scar drawn on her forehead. “I think it’s gonna be a magical time. I love Harry Potter, and I love sports, so why not combine the two,” she said, happy to explain why she joined the team.
The sport’s sudden increase in popularity means novice players are joining at every practice. As a result this new, complex game has to be constantly re-explained. There are five balls, six hula-hoops, and four different positions. The idea is to score by throwing one ball through the hula-hoop, while avoiding the “bludgers,” dodgeball-style.
To keep the game true to its Harry Potter roots, there is even a player clad in gold from head-to-toe serving as the snitch. It may seem confusing, but, according to another fouding member of the team, and Vice Warlock, Wren Laing, “Knowledge of the books definitely helps everyone play since it’s pretty similar [to the story].”
Despite the influx of newbies, the craze surrounding the Harry Potter books means that it’s not hard to find those familiar with the ins and outs of Quidditch. In fact, most players have gotten so into the game that it’s already getting serious – dive tackle, injured knee, broken broomstick serious.
“It’s really intense because the only official rules are to be creative. When it comes to violence and physical contact, it’s whatever you think is appropriate in the game,” said Laing.
And, sure enough, the ground was littered with broken dollar-store brooms by the end of practice.
Away from lower field, the club executives – or warlocks, sorceresses, and goblins as they prefer to be called – are planning big for the new team.
“Hopefully we’ll go to the Quidditch world cup at Vermont in Middlebury and then we’ll [continue on] from there,” said Laing.
The tournament is scheduled at the end of October and the team already has more players signed up than they can afford to take. Clearly, this Muggle Quidditch team is well on their way to fulfilling their mission: “bring[ing] together sports enthusiasts and Harry Potter fans alike.”