Catch the Snitch, Avoid the Quaffle, Stay on Your Broom!

Keeper. Chaser. The golden snitch. These terms might not sound very athletic, but they are! They’re from the destined-to-be-classic sport of Quidditch, which, for you Muggles out there, (non-magical people, that is), is the brainchild of the amazingly talented, JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. In Rowling’s classic, the game consists of three 40-story high hoops that have to be guarded, and the Seeker has to catch the flying golden snitch to win the game. Quaffles are thrown at players, who have to be careful not to fall off their brooms.  

And life is truly imitating art as Quidditch is a real sport today. Of course no one is flying around on broomsticks, but broomsticks are involved and believe me, it is much harder to run while “flying” a broomstick! I played a five-minute version of this game in a bookstore and can’t imagine hitting a field to get this done. But it’s done. And it’s organized. There is US Quidditch, founded in 2010; Major League Quidditch, which plays during US Quidditch’s off season; and the Southern New England Quidditch Conference. This all started with a book! And with the ingenuity of youth, is kept alive thanks mostly to college students.

Travel to West Kingston and you can see the URI Quidditch team, the Rhody Ridgebacks. Wade Barbera, the team’s head captain and president, was drawn to the sport not only through his love of Rowling’s series, but as a sports fan. “It just seemed fun. The people playing were having fun, the recruiters were all smiling and joking. I had always been a Harry Potter fan, I had a background in multiple sports, and seeing these people combining the two and having fun made me want to be a part of it.”  

URI’s team was formed in 2012 after a group of friends decided they wanted to join the rapidly growing sport. But you don’t have to be a Potter fan to enjoy this game. “Surprisingly, we have had non Harry Potter fans join the team. While the sport bases itself on a Harry Potter variant, it has become something entirely separate. We have a lot of people who haven’t read one of the books or watched a movie, but love the intensity of the sport as well as how open and friendly the community is,” said Barbera.

That sense of community was echoed by Nora Phou, the Southern New England Conference’s (SNEQC) director of events and Quidditch referee. Phou hopes to continue playing the game after graduation, and she noted that Ridgeback alumni do find teams to play in after graduation. “Quidditch is like my family, and I think you’ll hear a similar statement from many other players,” she said. 

Commissioner Brooke Lawrence agrees, and from the sound of it she could teach a very famous commissioner something about the love of the game. (Looking at you Goddell!) SNEQC, with all of its wonderful teams, is a part of my Quidditch family. We do get competitive with each other, but all siblings do. Our main goal is to have fun playing a game we love, and to support each other while doing it,” said Lawrence.  

The Ridgebacks aren’t the only game in town — the Providence Ashwinders, made up of Brown students and community members, are RI’s reigning champs and practice every Friday at 4pm at India Point Park.

So what are you waiting for?  Put down that copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and find a game of Quidditch!

Catch The Providence Ashwinders on Fridays at 4pm at India Point Place Park, or at URI every Saturday and Sunday at noon for practices. See the opening tournament for the SNEQC on September 25 at Wellesley College. There will be 10 teams competing. You can also look for Quidditch for kids — or Kidditch — at the Boston Indie Games on the MIT campus this semester.

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