By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
What can a group of students do with brooms, partially deflated dodge balls, volleyballs and hula hoops? If you think this is a trick question, think again. This is all the equipment you need to play Quidditch, and Boston University’s Quidditch team has six years of experience. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, competitive sports or avoiding homework on Sunday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., then checking out the team may be worthwhile.
When I first got to the team’s practice location behind Sleeper Hall on West Campus, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of starting to understand how the game was played, I became more confused by the second. However, talking to College of Arts and Sciences junior Katrina Bossotti helped. She’s on the Quidditch e-board and a captain of one of the teams.
According to Katrina, there are a few main rules that have been adapted from the game portrayed in the best-selling Harry Potter series. There are seven players from each team on the field at one time: three chasers, two beaters, a seeker and a keeper. The goal of the game is for the chasers to throw the quaffles (volleyballs) through the hoops while avoiding the bludgers (partially deflated dodge balls) that are thrown by the beaters. If you are hit, you must go back to the hoops on your side. Katrina explained that this is supposed to simulate “falling off your broom, since we can’t actually fly.”
The game seems difficult to pick up, but the main thing to remember is that the seeker has to catch the snitch. The snitch is usually a cross-country runner or wrestler with a tennis ball in a sock tucked into their pants. He or she has no boundaries, and they can do pretty much anything to avoid getting caught. Once caught, the game ends and the team with the most points is the winner.
School of Management senior Joe Barkus explained to me that while there are seemingly no limits to Quidditch (no field boundaries at all!), you can only catch the snitch with a single hand, and yellow and red cards are issued for fouls. There are four teams at Boston University that practice together, but there is a single tournament team of 21 players that compete in official tournaments on a local and regional scale. Just this semester there are three different tournaments, and in the spring there is the World Cup.
I chatted briefly with College of Communication sophomore Brett Engwall, who plays the position of seeker. Brett began his Quidditch career last year, and he played on the tournament team. When I asked what kept Brett playing, he responded that he was surprised at how athletic the sport is.
“We also form close friendships, especially on the tournament team,” he said.
I learned that the tournaments are even more intense than the practice I witnessed last weekend, highly competitive and violent, but also extremely fun. At the end of a vigorous Quidditch game, the opponents can be seen hugging each other and congratulating their enemies on a good game.
If you are wary of trying something so new, take the advice of College of General Studies freshman Marianne Walters. When she couldn’t join a soccer team at BU, she said Quidditch seemed just as interesting. Marianne heard about the team through splash, and she loves playing. Competitive sports aren’t for everyone, but what good is a sport if there are no fans to cheer them on?
And let me emphasize again that this game has NO boundaries. It’s best to watch this game from a distance because the players are not afraid to blow right past you to keep playing!