Quidditch comes to Whitman

Sylvie Luiten

For those of us who thought our childhoods were over after the last “Harry Potter” book came out, fear not. During Whitman’s annual Week of Wizardry, students can participate in Harry Potter-themed events including the annual Quidditch Tournament. Last Sunday, this event took place on Ankeny with five competing teams of at least seven players each.

Credit: Catie Bergman

Besides having a common love for Harry Potter, participants are driven to play to enjoy the outdoors and team camaraderie.

“We were sad at the end of the IM football season; we play together well, so we decided to get a Quidditch team together,” said senior player Mackenzie Hales.

This magical tradition is not a long-standing one.

“Last year was our first year. I joined WEB as a freshman, and worked with [junior] Kelly [Hall], and we started the Week of Wizardry. This year I got her position,” said sophomore WEB Special Events Director Alexandra Schaffer.

Schaffer has closely followed the Quidditch rule book to re-create the game on the ground.

“I went to a Harry Potter conference in Florida, and Kelly also had some rules she devised. We also changed some of the rules of the snitch to have more game time,” she said.

In a world with no magic brooms or flying balls, some original rules were tweaked. Brooms were held between players’ legs as they ran across the playing field.

“It’s difficult running around with a broom between your legs, but then you get going, and it’s like you’re flying,” said team captain senior Maggie Massey.

The snitch, too, was adjusted to work with the law of gravity: A student dressed in gold or yellow ran around, trying not to get their flags pulled.

“I love Harry Potter and running but didn’t know of a team, so [being] the snitch seemed like a low-commitment way to be involved,” said junior snitch Rachel Quednau.

In the end, “The Team That Shall Not Be Named,” won the competition after seeker senior Jackson Bellaimey captured the elusive running snitch.

“Quidditch is part of my family legacy: my brother was at Middlebury during the time that it began there and was one of the announcers for three years,” said Bellaimey.

Middlebury was the first college nation-wide to adopt Muggle Quidditch in 2005 when students Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe took it upon themselves to adapt the rules to the non-magical world. Hundreds of colleges now play every year, and an annual Intercollegiate World Cup has even been created. This year the fifth annual World Cup is being held in New York City from November 12-23 with 100 teams from the US and Canada.