By: Amal Javed Abdullah
What do you do during these first few weeks of school when you’re slightly affronted that you still haven’t received your Hogwarts letter? You play quidditch.
SFU Quidditch, an SFU sports team that has been around for five years, is “a very dumb game that we all love playing,” for “people [who] appreciate running around on a broom for fun,” says Nathan Ross, long-time member and president of the team.
The official game differs from the one in the books by J. K. Rowling in a number of respects, the most obvious difference being that players don’t fly! Instead, they run around with brooms between their legs, which also adds to the competition during the game – if a player dismounts at any point, they must run back and touch their respective hoops.
Similar to the books, there are three Chasers on the team who have to score a point by getting a Quaffle into the hoop; meanwhile, two Beaters run around to try to dismount players from their brooms; the seeker has to catch the Golden Snitch, which, seen as a small flying object in the books, is instead a third party neutral to both sides, almost like a referee in gold clothes. Seekers have to try to catch the Snitch’s tail in order to win the game.
The SFU team competes with other teams, including other university teams such as UBC and UVic, the regional teams in Edmonton and Calgary, and the Vancouver local team. They also sent players to join the Calgary Mavericks during the national championship, where they came in second overall.
The game is an amalgam of elements from a number of games – handball, dodgeball, football, track and field, soccer, rugby, and basketball. It’s a fully co-ed game, which has huge appeal. The team has open practices, meaning that if someone shows dedication, Ross is willing to train them; and the team is always looking for new recruits.
According to Ross, there is a lot of traction for quidditch in Vancouver. People want a team sport without the pressure, to play a game that they love without being yelled at for every mistake, especially if they’ve been burned by such behaviour in the past. quidditch is attractive because it’s a fun and open community, a game where you get out what you put in, and “it’s easy to create that open, friendly atmosphere at SFU Quidditch.”
Ross joined the team because they came to SFU as a huge Harry Potter fan, someone who stood in midnight release lines for the books. They comment that SFU can be socially isolated, and classes don’t do much to help alleviate that. The team at SFU Quidditch is very tight, and even when Ross isn’t feeling the game, it’s the sense of community and friendship on the team that makes them want to go.
People don’t come to quidditch because they’re a great athlete and they’ve been playing the game their whole lives. “People come because they’re looking for something dumb and fun to define their university experience,” said Ross.