Quidditch jumps from fiction to the field

Photo by Ryan Hueglin
Photo by Ryan Hueglin

“Finally, it’s here.”

Nathan Boutilier said these words as he sat back and watched students from the University of Waterloo play Wilfrid Laurier University in a recreational sporting match.

However, the game that Boutilier was admiring wasn’t your typical sport — it was Quidditch, a sport that requires broomsticks, “bludgers” and “golden snitches.”

Emma Morrison, the president of the Harry Potter Alliance at Laurier collaborated with Boutilier, who is also the president and founder of UW’s Quidditch Club. The two wanted to organize a casual exhibition match between the cross-town “rival” schools.

The event occurred on Thursday and saw upwards of forty enthusiastic participants on broomsticks.

“It was really fun,” said Morrison. “It was really cool to get the unity between campuses going.”

“I loved it,” Boutilier added. “To have that big of a group out was just awesome.”

Quidditch is a fan-made sport from the acclaimed Harry Potter franchise. Recently, the sport has become so popular amongst university campuses that there are now international leagues, with official rules, referees and tournaments.

Boutilier explained that his squad was also training to compete in a Canadian tournament the following weekend. The day-long tournament hosts Quidditch teams from Canadian universities for the chance to represent Canada at the international World Cup in April.

“The sport is growing like crazy,” he added. “McGill and Carleton are our biggest competition, I keep watching videos on them; Guelph is pretty rough, too.”
Waterloo’s Quidditch team has been practicing every Saturday in preparation for the Canadian Cup. Boutilier explained that they have been practicing skills, conditioning and how to properly tackle someone in the contact sport.

“We have to work on the dynamics there,” he said. “Because we don’t know what the other teams are like.”

Priyanka Aggarwal, a fourth-year student who participated in the Quidditch match last week commented, “I hope we kill the other teams and move on to the World Cup.”

Aggarwal had been playing Quidditch since the summer. “It’s like a dream come true,” she said. “I love Harry Potter.”
Morrison also told The Cord that she would like to make Quidditch a recreational sport at Laurier’s campus. However, due to limited space, she has run into some difficulties getting the sport off the ground.

“It’s a lot of paper work,” she said. “You have to have a certain amount of people, have a certain amount of girls on the team, you have to get registered at the International Quidditch Association.”
Quidditch first started in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont where students developed the game using existing sports equipment.

Essentially, the game is played with seven players and the objective is to throw a ball through a hoop while trying to avoid getting hit with a bludger. Quidditch is co-ed, requires physical contact and has a human “golden snitch” that players have to pursue.

It has developed into an international phenomenon, with multiple leagues in Canada, the United States, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

Both Morrison and Boutilier emphasized that the sport of Quidditch isn’t just for the athletic type. They promised that the sport could be enjoyed by anyone who is a Harry Potter fan.

“There are people who didn’t want to join the club and who didn’t play any sports before,” said Boutilier. “If you’re a fan of Harry Potter then you’re going to have fun.”

*The article has been updated since its original publishing date.*

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