It was inevitable that someone would try to play Quidditch. A wildly popular sport among the wizard and witchcraft students at Hogwarts in the "Harry Potter" books, it has obvious allure to fantasy geeks who have neither magical nor athletic abilities in the real world.
But while there will be Potter heads at Saturday’s Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament, plenty of the players descending on Chestnut Hill College are athletes more interested in developing their skills in a challenging game that combines aspects of lacrosse and dodgeball.
"I'm actually not a Harry Potter fan — I maybe got through the first chapter of the first book," admits Caroline Stutz, a senior math major at Chestnut Hill who plays both a catcher and a beater on the school’s team. "Others do play for the novelty, but Quidditch for me comes down to the sport of it, the team aspect of it."
Now in its second year, the tournament will include 12 college and community Quidditch teams, all of which have unique styles but adhere to regulations established by the IQA (yes, there’s an International Quidditch Association). One of the most important rules is that players must remain on their broomsticks at all times. "For first-time players, it’s really funny to watch them adjust to trying to dodge balls with a broom between their legs,” says Stutz. “But you get used to it — everyone has their own way."
Of course, the inherent magic of the game can be contagious. "When I first started playing, I wasn’t really into Harry Potter," says Stephanie Reif, an elementary special education major at Chestnut Hill when not on the field as a chaser. "But now I have a wand on my desk, I have a snitch that my mom gave me as a going away present, and I have all the books under my bed along with all my text books."
Muggle's guide to Quidditch
Chasers: These players pass the Quaffle (a large ball) up the field in an attempt to toss it through the other team’s three hoops.
Beaters: Armed with paddle-like bats, these players protect their teammates from large balls called Bludgers that are intended to knock them off their brooms.
Snitch: At Hogwarts, the snitch is a magical winged ball that flies through the game and is worth a ton of points if caught. At Chestnut Hill this weekend, volunteer students— usually track runners — act as the snitches.
Under the spell
Chestnut Hill is getting into the sorcery spirit this weekend. Things kick off Friday night with a Harry Potter pub crawl (neighborhood mainstay McNally’s is masquerading as the Leaky Cauldron) and there are events for families throughout the weekend.
Visit www.chestnuthillpa.com for a complete listing of potions classes, costume parades and Quidditch workshops for aspiring wizards.