What do you call a group of freshmen at the Middlebury College in Vermont running around with an assortment of towels tied around their necks like capes and toting Swiffer mops?
Quidditch players, of course.
Most people are familiar with quidditch as the beloved wizard sport from J.K. Rowling's wildly successful Harry Potter novels, a sport featuring seven players per team on flying broomsticks. Well this sport has now become a reality (minus the flying).
The sport has been confined to the ground (for obvious reasons) and takes place on a playing field the size of a hockey rink. Three hula hoops atop PVC pipes on each end make up the goal posts through which the three "chasers" of each team have to throw a "quaffle."
Two lucky "beaters" on each team get the privilege to chuck "bludgers" at members of the opposing team, a fantastic way to release all that pent-up anger!
Lastly, the lone "seeker" of each team chases after the "snitch," a non-biased human dressed all in yellow running as fast as possible and yelling obscenities to evade capture. And of course, all players are required to carry a broom between their legs at all times - just for fun. That can make running rather difficult. One may be skeptical of this.
"Who in their right mind would voluntarily flail about a field clutching a sweaty broomstick between their legs while having dodgeballs thrown at them?" you may ask in a snobbish manner. Well LOTS OF PEOPLE is my witty response. The International Quidditch Association (IQA), the governing body of muggle quidditch, proudly boasts 1,000 teams from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Mexico, France and the UK. These are determined, athletic, tireless, broom-wielding, hard-working, Harry-Potter-loving, magnificent human beings who have come together to keep part of the Harry Potter culture alive and thriving.
Last year's Quidditch World Cup in New York City was a spectacular two-day event featuring live Wrock (Wizard Rock) performances, a circus, owls, improv comedians, Harry Potter costumes and merchandise, and butterbeer while 2,000 uniformed athletes battled it out across 10 playing fields.
This was the first instance that quidditch was broadcast on cable, improving the lives of all who tuned into the action, HP-fans and oblivious, stunned muggles alike. This year's World Cup is to take place in April in Kissimmee, Fla., and is expected to be just as extravagant, if not more so, than New York City's.
The full-contact sport is quite a spectacle to watch. While players are not permitted to whip their brooms from between their legs, hoist them high above their head with a flourish and start sparring, thrusting and jabbing the pointy implement at another player, collisions do occur and result in full-force tackles, as well as athletes being knocked off their brooms by relentless bludgers and satisfied, smirking beaters.
This sport and its association may have simply been a result of crazed fans, but it has turned into something huge. The IQA is a non-profit, dependent on loyal volunteers dedicated to many commendable goals, such as "inspiring young people to lead physically active and socially engaged lives," fostering a "culture of creativity" and "enhancing our communities."
Like the IQA proclaims on its website, "the literary roots of real-life quidditch underscore the role that reading plays in our creative development and demonstrates, again, that books have the power to unite and forge new communities and traditions."
High five for literacy!
Grace Chen is a Grade 12 student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam.