Harry Potter’s quidditch casting spell on college campuses

Author J.K. Rowling not only brought the magical story of Harry Potter to millions of readers and viewers through seven novels and six motion pictures. She was also able to introduce a sport that has taken college campuses by storm.

Quidditch, the game of scoring, dodging and flying on broomsticks, played by Harry Potter, has now become a wildly popular club sport for hundreds of schools across the country.

Beginning as a small intramural league at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005, the unique game has quickly caught on and the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association was formed two years later. Today, the organization boasts 226 college club-level teams, and earlier this year hosted its third World Cup.

Viewers will not find St. Thomas listed as a participating school on the IQAs Web site because St. Thomas has not joined the pack quite yet.

But for quidditch and Harry Potter enthusiasts, proposing the idea for the new club sport would not be difficult.

Junior Ann Ziegler, Undergraduate Student Government vice president of administrative affairs, said any group that wants to start an organization on campus first needs to find 10 people who are interested.

“They need to show that there is an interest on campus,” Ziegler said. “And they would have to create a constitution. From there, it’s just a voting process.”

Although only 10 people are needed to form a club, 14 players, or seven per team, are required for the adapted style of earth-bound quidditch currently played by college club teams. The full-contact, co-ed game can be thrilling and may attract students, such as senior Marta Radcliffe.

“I would consider playing it, just for the novelty I guess,” Radcliffe said. “If people got into it, I’m sure I could find myself getting caught up in it. The way I picture it in my head, with people running around with broomsticks between their legs, seems really funny.”

In an attempt to describe why she enjoyed reading about the unique game in the Harry Potter books, Radcliffe noted that quidditch is a combination of many different sports.

“There are the people that hit balls at you, so that’s like baseball,” she said. “Then you have to shoot a ball through hoops, so that’s like basketball or soccer. Then you have to catch stuff like the seeker does. I’ve never thought about that before, but that’s interesting.”

Sally Schreiber can be reached at sfschreiber@stthomas.edu