Witches Get Snitches

Where can you play the most lighthearted, full-contact sport on campus? Only through club quidditch, the most unique sports craze to sweep college campuses in the last decade.

Quidditch, originally a fictional sport from the “Harry Potter” series — played with flying broomsticks — was adapted for “muggles” in the early 2000s and is now played by over 200 teams nationwide.

“The most enjoyable thing was how much it caught me off guard,” said junior and club president Connor Umsted. “I met all of my close friends through quidditch, it’s legitimately a great club.”

At seven years old, the UVM quidditch team is one of the oldest in the country, and frequently travels throughout the Northeast to compete against other collegiate teams. The team practices and competes year-round, moving indoors to astro-turf fields from mid-October to the end of the academic year.

“We love playing in the snow, and deep snow is the best,” senior Jenna Hurley said. “Everyone slides around and it’s a great time.”

Quidditch is played with 15 players on the field at a time: seven individuals from each team along with one neutral player, also known as the snitch. Teams consist of three chasers, who attempt to score by putting volleyballs (also known as quaffles) through three different hoops, all guarded by a keeper. Additionally, there are two beaters, who use dodgeballs to tag other players out. If a player is hit by a dodgeball, they must run back to their own goal before they are considered in play again.

“It’s a full contact sport, it gets pretty rough,” Umsted said. “There are a lot of injuries, a lot of broken brooms.”

There is also one seeker per team, whose goal is to catch the snitch runner — a neutral player wearing a gold uniform whose capture ends the game.

“The snitch is usually a cross country runner,” Hurley said. “It’s one of the most athletic positions.”

The snitch — which Umsted described “hilarious” — is one of the most lighthearted parts of the game. Seekers attempt to grab a ball in a sock that has been tucked into the snitch runner’s waistband, all while keeping their own brooms between their legs.

Although quidditch is described as being co-ed, U.S. Quidditch (the governing body of competitive quidditch) implemented a policy called “Title 9 ¾,” referencing Title IX and the famous 9 ¾ train platform seen in the “Harry Potter” books. Instead of dividing men and women into different teams, USQ policy states that each team is allowed no more than four players that identify as the same gender on the pitch at any given time.

The policy seeks to be more inclusive of transgender players and hopes to inspire similar gender policies in other sports.

The UVM quidditch team was a member of USQ, which hosts sanctioned events and even a national tournament, during the 2014-2015 season but recently left the league due to increasing rule changes. They now play other colleges without concern for rankings.

Quidditch takes players year-round with no tryouts necessary; matches are BYOB (bring your own broom). Contact president Connor Umsted ([email protected]) or check out them out on Facebook for information on joining.