Upon hearing that URI has a Quidditch team, one might wonder how Muggles play a magical sport that, along with Harry Potter, sprang from the imagination of author J. K. Rowling. This full-contact sport combines rugby, dodgeball, and tag to create a sweat-inducing workout, with students running on brooms instead of flying on them. A player dressed in bright yellow, with a tennis ball in a sock tucked into his or her waistband, serves as the elusive golden Snitch. The human Snitch is free to run and hide on the open space of the URI quadrangle and surrounding buildings.
Quidditch has truly leapt off the pages of the Harry Potter books, developing quite a following in the Muggle (non-magical) world since 2005, when it started at Middlebury College in Vermont. The International Quidditch Association lists hundreds of teams worldwide. In its third year, URI’s co-ed Quidditch team is the brainchild of student Zara Collier, of Narragansett, and several friends. Collier said the team has grown from seven members the first year to 20 last year to 35 this year. URI’s team was instrumental in bringing the 2012 Northeast Regional Quidditch Tournament to the Ocean State in November.
During practices and games at URI, passersby on the quad spot the elevated ring-shaped goals, three on each side of the pitch, or field, and stop to watch. There are the brooms, of course, which each player is required to carry between his or her legs as if defying gravity. Brooms range from what look like Harry Potter’s own Nimbus 2000 to green plastic household models. With seven players on each team, the play is fast-paced as students try to avoid being hit by Bludgers (dodgeballs) while carrying the Quaffle (a deflated volleyball) and scoring.
Collier, who is majoring in math, computer science, and anthropology, reports that even though the competition is fierce, players on opposing teams are nice to each other, helping each other up when they fall. She relishes the lighthearted moments, such as when a dance party breaks out or onlookers burst into applause when the Snitch is caught, ending the game. The players high-five and hug each other easily and often; laughter frequently rings out during practice.
“We’re the generation that grew up with Harry Potter,” said Collier as she watched team members run through drills. “I’m really proud and honored to be part of Quidditch and the Quidditch community at URI.”
Editor’s Note, delivered in a British accent: While it is not this magazine’s policy to capitalize names of sports, players’ positions, or sporting equipment, the foregoing article does so in deference to the style set by Rowling and her publisher, Scholastic Books.