Quidditch: Students make fantasy sport a reality
Currently, there are 226 accredited colleges and universities that have established Quidditch teams through IQA, but unfortunately the College is not yet among them. "We're not on their roster, which is ridiculous," the club's scheduler Chelsea Tyler '13 says. Very prestigious institutions such as Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vassar College and McGill University have gathered at Middlebury to compete for the World Cup in the past, and it is time for Colby to join the ranks.
The co-athletic coordinators, Campbell and Tendai M'ndange-Pfupfu '13, do not want to get ahead of themselves. Quidditch must be passed by the Office of Campus Life before it becomes an official club with funding. The paperwork is currently underway, and the support from the student population thus far has been astounding. "That [Great Hall] dinner in Foss worked at the perfect time," Campbell says. At the event, the group announced its intentions for the Quidditch club to the Hall. Over 100 students were signed up by the end of the night.
The Great Hall Dinner also facilitated the group's search for a faculty advisor. Upon seeing the Head of Instructional Services at Colby Libraries, Marilyn Pukkila, dressed in her best magical garb at the dinner, the tentative Quidditch club leaders immediately knew they had found their ideal advisor. Pukkila is also teaching a religion course for the upcoming JanPlan entitled "Religious Responses to Harry Potter," and the leaders feel that she will be as devoted to the Quidditch club as they are.
Pukkila is excited to be part of the club, but remains realistic about her involvement. "I'd enjoy being an announcer once or twice, but I don't think I could commit to every practice or every game." Regarding the direction of the club, Pukkila explains that "this may be an inter-Colby thing. We'll see what we can do in competing with other teams. If we do get the College's support for that...I think it will happen. It would be a lot of fun to play at the intercollegiate level."
The students are still waiting to receive an updated version of the official rules from IQA, but that is not stopping them from contemplating their future positions on the team. Treasurer Zhanar Seitmagzimova '13 intends to be a beater, and Tyler wants to be one of the three chasers. "I pretty much just want to be Harry Potter in general," M'ndange-Pfupfu says. "I'm not going to hold any dreams about being the snitch...but, that's my dream," he jokes.
Tyler realized from the criteria on the sign-up sheet that there are "people with no experience and people with Quidditch experience," and the team will welcome everyone. "We're not going to have try-outs and cut people...it will be all-inclusive," Seitmagzimova says. When they asked students to indicate what position they may be interested in playing, one student claimed that he was going to be the dragon. This is the type of attitude that the club leaders are striving for. "[We want to have] fun over competition," public relations coordinator Yichen Jiang '13 says, but they also want the team to be good and take the sport seriously. "And even if we do lose," adds M'ndange-Pfupfu, "we'll still take the team out for chocolate frogs."
Since the club is still in its beginning stages, the leaders are currently focusing on the appearance of the team. "We need capes, which we already have a logo for. We need legit brooms and goggles for safety reasons...[and someone] to manufacture hoops," Tyler says. The practice location remains undecided, but the group hopes to gain access to the field behind Runnals. One or two practices per week is ideal, but Tyler thinks that students will want to practice more in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.
"We've had iPlay come up to us and ask us if we wanted to make Quidditch an iPlay," Tyler says. "But for now we're just going to do scrimmages. We only need fourteen players for the teams, but we have over 100 people signed up," Jiang explains. Although Quidditch will initially be considered a club sport, it has the potential to expand into the athletic department. "Campus Life would house us for a couple of years, and if we were successful then athletics would take us over. Then we'd get athletic funding," Tyler explains. With this immense support, Colby Quidditch would secure the financial resources necessary to attend the prestigious World Cup at Middlebury.
The leaders hope to foster the team dynamic off the field as well. Seitmagzimova says they "want to do other 'non-sportsy' stuff too, like team dinners and movie nights," where they will watch Harry Potter, of course. Similar to the reputations of other sports teams on the Hill, Quidditch parties are on the horizon. "It's all about the butterbeer," Jiang jokes, "and firewhiskey, for people over 21." Be warned: partygoers will need a special password (or the "Alohamora" charm) to gain entry.
As the five friends eagerly await the Student Government Association's approval, their hopes for the Quidditch club continue to escalate. "We were thinking about connecting with CCAK so [the children] could play Quidditch," Seitmagzimova says. Tyler believes that this is the best way to get Waterville involved in the sport, and will further the club's goal to attract a fan base beyond the College.
By creating the Quidditch club, its leaders aim to introduce a sport on the Hill that does not attract the typical sports fanatics. While everyone may not like the same sports, most people can bond over their love for Harry Potter. This is a chance for students, faculty and the Waterville community to be united by their passion for literature. Regardless of the scoreboard, the players and spectators of Colby Quidditch will never be disappointed. They will have played a role in bringing their favorite children's book to life.