Queen's attempts Quidditch

Queen’s team set to compete in first ever Canadian Quidditch Cup this weekend

Students at Queen’s practice Muggle Quidditch on Agnes Benidickson Field. The Queen’s Quidditch Club holds two-hour practices twice a week.
Students at Queen’s practice Muggle Quidditch on Agnes Benidickson Field. The Queen’s Quidditch Club holds two-hour practices twice a week.
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If you see people running through campus with broomsticks between their legs, don’t be alarmed.

It’s probably a game of Muggle Quidditch.

The sport is adapted from J.K. Rowling’s celebrated Harry Potter series, revolving around the capture of the golden snitch — an elusive, flying ball.

At Queen’s, the Snitch is a human being.

“The Snitch is a person who runs around campus, they’re not confined to the actual field,” said Mason Silveira, ArtSci ’12 and and Head of Magical Games and Sports.

“[They] wear all yellow and have a sock with a tennis ball hanging from their shorts.”

Silveira founded the Queen’s Quidditch Club (QQC) this year.

Muggle Quidditch attracts more than just Harry Potter fans, he said.

“It was translated from such a popular book series and adapted into something that’s actually a workable sport,” Silveira said.

Quidditch incorporates elements of dodgeball, rugby and basketball. It has a detailed set of rules.

“The hardest position is probably keeper. It’s hard to defend all three hoops at once,” he said. “[Quidditch] looks complicated to play from the outside, but it’s just a learning curve.”

Several modifications have been made to Rowling’s magical version of Quidditch. Since players can’t fly, games are played on foot within the confines of football-sized fields.

Broomsticks are still vital to the game though. As a rule, players must keep a broomstick between their legs at all times. The Snitch, known as the Snitch runner, is the only player exempt from this rule.

A Snitch establishes boundaries with a referee before a game. At Queen’s — where games and practices are held on Agnes Benidickson field — Snitch boundaries roughly stretch from Lake Ontario to Union Street between University Avenue and Barrie Street.

The snitch runner is encouraged to be creative in their evasion tactics. He or she doesn’t need to respect the extensive list of fouls in the game. The Snitch can push and wrestle to avoid capture.

Quidditch is a full-contact sport. But players who make intentional physical contact with another player’s head, neck or groin are sent off the field by a referee.

It’s recommended that the Snitch runner stay away from the field for a maximum of 20 minutes. Usually the referee sets a secret time for the Snitch’s return.

QQC players haven’t experienced serious injuries. Steps are taken to ensure there aren’t Quidditch-related injuries on the field.

“We put tennis balls on [the ends] of all the brooms,” Silveira said.

This year, the QQC is a ratified AMS club. In previous years, students would only informally play around campus, Silveira said.

He said even before the club was created, there was mounting interest in Muggle Quidditch.

“On clubs night everyone said they had wanted to do it, but no one took the initiative to start it,” he said. “Most other schools have a team already … Before I [graduated] I wanted to put this in place.”

QQC is registered with the International Quidditch Association — the governing body for the burgeoning sport.

Quidditch was first adapted from the Harry Potter novels at Middlebury College in Vermont by freshman student Xander Manshel in 2005.

Since then, the sport has gained a global foothold with 364 registered Quidditch teams in the US and three in Brazil. Germany, Italy, France and Russia all have one registered team.

Canada has 32 registered Quidditch teams at schools including Ryerson, the University of Toronto, Carleton and McGill.

Annual dues are required to join the international association. It costs $150 per year for Canadian post-secondary teams. High school teams can join for $75.

So what does it take to be a Queen’s Quidditch player?

“You have to run a lot during the game, so you need endurance and stamina,” Silveira said. “You need a good throwing arm if you’re a beater, and if you’re a chaser you need good precision.”

The Quidditch team held tryouts earlier this month, attracting 50 interested participants. Twenty people made the team.

Contrary to what some may think, Quidditch players come from various athletic backgrounds and aren’t just die-hard Harry Potter fans.

“We have hockey players and mountain bikers,” Silveira said.

Though it a familiar sport, Quidditch hasn’t received questionable reactions from passersby, Silveira said.

“Most people ... stop to watch it and enjoy it,” he said. “People are excited to see it.”

Ian Little, Sci ’15, recently made the QQC team as a chaser. He and his fellow teammates will travel to Ottawa this Saturday to compete in the Canadian Quidditch Cup — the first-ever national Quidditch tournament. It’s open to all post-secondary level teams in Canada and the US.

“We’re going with our team and fans,” Little said.

The QQC will face four teams on Saturday in a round-robin format.

Participating teams include Carleton, the University of Ottawa, McMaster, Ryerson University, McGill and St. Lawrence University.

Little said McGill is one of Queen’s most intense competitors.

“McGill is one of the ones that’s been around the longest,” he said.

McGill has had a Quidditch team since 2008.

Little, who counts himself as a Harry Potter fan, was introduced to Muggle Quidditch this past summer.

“I had a friend in the summer who invited me to play with Carleton,” he said. “They’re really good … but they’ve been around a lot longer than us.”

Carleton’s Quidditch team has been registered since January 2010 and was the first Ontario university to form a Quidditch team.

The uniqueness of Quidditch makes it appealing, Little said.

“Its just completely ridiculous,” he said, “but it’s a lot of fun.”

While Little hasn’t suffered a Quidditich-related injury, he knows its a possibility.

“I know people who’ve had busted up knees … you don’t want to get hit with a broomstick,” he said. “Some people on Carleton had sprained wrists and ankles.”

How to play

Objective

• Score more points than the opposing team. Each goal is worth 10 points and catching the snitch runner is worth 30 points.

Players

• There are two teams of seven people.

• Three chasers score goals by throwing the Quaffle (a volleyball) through one of the opposing team’s three hoops.

• Two beaters keep Bludgers, (dodgeballs), away from their team and hit bludgers towards opposing team. In Harry Potter’s world, bludgers use bats, but in Muggle Quidditch, bludgers can only use their hands.

• One keeper guards the hoops for each team.

• One seeker tries to catch a golden Snitch — a tennis ball inside a yellow sock tucked into the waistband of the snitch runner.

• A Snitch runner tries to elude the seeker. They aren’t on a team and are the only player without a broomstick.

Equipment

• Goals are constructed using hula hoops. The diameter of the hoops must be within 33 and 40 inches on posts of 0.9 metres, 1.4 metres and 1.8 metres. The tallest hoop is placed in the centre.

• Players must have a broom, a coloured headband distinguishing their position and a jersey.

•Mouthguards, goggles, cleats and gloves are recommended.

— Source: International Quidditch Association rulebook.

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