They might not be riding real brooms or chasing a real snitch, but the Carleton University Quidditch team takes their fantasy sport seriously.
The club, which hosted an introductory game at Brewer Park on September 9, faces college and community teams across Canada. They play a realistic version of the Harry Potter hobby, with sticks between the legs instead of flying brooms and a “golden snitch” dressed in bright yellow shorts.
âA lot of people mistakenly think this is more akin to Harry Potter cosplay,â said Alex Naftel, a Carleton graduate who played for Major League Quidditch teams in Toronto and Ottawa. âReally, it’s a full contact competitive sport.
The rules of the sport are similar to those described in the books by JK Rowling. Darren Bell, president and assistant coach of the Carleton team, described the sport as a combination of rugby and basketball.
âThis sport is like no other,â said Naftel.
Like rugby, quidditch is a clinch. Players do not wear any protection except a mouthguard. Tackles are commonplace.
The sport is also akin to basketball with hoops for scoring set up at both ends of the court. There are three hoops, side by side, with the middle hoop higher than the outer two. Ten points are awarded each time a pursuer throws or dunk a quaffle (a volleyball for non-wizards) in a hoop.
In traditional terms, chasers are attacking and batsmen are defense. The batsmen throw chaser balls at the opposing pursuers. If tagged, chasers are forced to drop any ball they are holding and to touch the center goal post on their side.
Then there’s the Snitch: a small orb with wings in the books, but a person in yellow shorts in the real world. The Snitch has a tail attached to his shorts, and one person from each team, called the Seeker, tries to grab him. The first to do so earns his team points.
At all times, players must keep their sticks between their legs.
Bell, a fourth-year computer science student at Carleton, said he was not a Harry Potter fan, but enjoyed sports and wanted to stay active after high school.
âI only saw two or three movies and I didn’t read any of the books. I came because I am a sports lover, âsaid Bell. âWhen I trucked someone for the first time and dunked someone, I was hooked. “
Bell said the sport attracts a mix of Potterheads, the popular term for fans of the show, and sports people. He described it as a cheesy and active Venn diagram.
John Danin, a first year computer systems engineering student, attended the learning session and said it was his first time playing quidditch. He said he was falling on the fandom side of the sport.
âOf course I read the Harry Potter books, so that caught my eye. I decided to go out and try it, âDanin said. âI like it a lot. Itâs unlike any other sport Iâve played.
Katelyn Croy, also a student at Carleton, said she had watched the movies and read the books, but was not a die-hard fan. She said she enjoyed the demo session and was planning to try it out for the team.
âIt sounds a lot more welcoming than a lot of other more involved sports,â Croy said. âThere is also a wider range of where people come from. “
Quidditch is a more established sport than it looks. Carleton plays against other university and community teams across Canada and was fourth in the country two seasons ago. There is the MLQâMajor Quidditch LeagueâWith 16 teams from Ottawa to San Antonio, TX, and everywhere in between.
There are also national teams, which Naftel played for in 2016, when Team Canada went to the World Cup in Germany and played against more than 20 countries around the world.
When COVID-19 shut down the world of sports – quidditch included – in March 2020, many teams maintained the social side of sports with Zoom Hangouts.
âThere is a real community of people playing this sport,â said Naftel.
As for getting back on the pitch, Carleton’s Quidditch team couldn’t be more excited.
âIt was nice to play and to be active again,â said Naftel. “It’s amazing. I was really debating [not playing], and as soon as I played for 15 minutes, I was like ‘no, I love this. I have to keep playing.
Image presented by Anya Swettenham.