Rob LaMoy, Middlebury Exchange Student and Quidditch Pioneer

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Rob LaMoy, a junior at Middlebury College, is spending a semester here at Swarthmore. This Wednesday and last, he met with Swatties in Shane Lounge to discuss the beginnings of Swarthmore’s very own Quidditch team, after last year’s attempt) fizzled. LaMoy plays Quidditch at Middlebury, the birthplace and epicenter of collegiate Quidditch. The Gazette sat down with him before this week’s meeting to talk about Quidditch and his experience at Swarthmore.

DG: What’s your favorite broomstick?
RL: The Alivans Comet-Sweep is the top of the line right now. There’s actually a person who started a company called Alivans, and he sells brooms for about $60 a pop now. So the sport is starting to take on a commercial aspect, definitely. The IQA (the International Quidditch Association) gives its member-teams a discount on brooms. But if you’re just starting out you can essentially run around on anythin: a lacrosse stick, a lamp, a table leg, it really doesn’t matter.

DG: What’s the sport like?
RL: I’d say it’s a cross between rugby, baseball, football, and tag. There’s tackling, it’s full contact. The tag game takes place between the seeker and the snitch. The elements of passing and shooting even resemble baseball and basketball.

DG: Are you a Middlebury-sent Quidditch-evangelist, here to start a new chapter, and eventually, conquer the world?
RL: Well, I like to think that I know what I’m doing, from an organizational aspect. My real motivation is just to give people an outlet, something to do for fun. Swarthmore, like Middlebury, can be a place where people are always looking for reasons to get out of the dorm room, chill out, and find something recreational. Quidditch is the perfect excuse to run around, be silly, get some exercise, but also to have a lot of fun and meet a really good group of people.

DG: Is the sport very popular at Middlebury? Is it a Liberal Arts-specific kind of sport?
RL: Middlebury created the league, and so the sport has had the most time to flourish there. Middlebury’s had the most success playing it, to the point where the school has embraced it as an admissions gimmick. It’s very reflective of the school spirit. It’s been good for the school and for everyone at the school. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of people who play Quidditch at least part-time. Everyone comes out, it seems like, at least to watch.

DG: How do the rules differ from the actual book-version of the game?
RL: The first thing that comes to mind is that the beaters are not actually carrying clubs, nor are they hitting balls at other peoples’ heads. The balls are dodgeballs, which are softer. The bludgers can be caught and thrown. To simulate getting hit by a bludger, when hit, players drop whatever ball they’re carrying, the team loses possession, and the player goes back to touch their team’s hoops. They’re back in the game after that. it’s the same for being knocked off a broom. It’s a delay penalty.

DG: For those of us who may be wondering, does the International Quidditch Association test for flight-enhancing steroids?
RL: No, they don’t, but they probably should. Things are starting to get pretty competitive.

DG: Why did you decide to take a semester at Swarthmore instead of, say, abroad to another country?
RL: Middlebury has a big emphasis on the languages. The only thing is I don’t want to study one, thus my options were limited. I heard about the exchange here, and I’ve heard great things about Swarthmore. The Middlebury-Swarthmore exchange hasn’t been open for a couple decades now, so I wanted to start this up. I think it’s been a good choice so far. I’ve been meeting a lot of great people. Also, Swarthmore needs a Quidditch team.

DG: Considering what you’ve seen of Swarthmore so far this semester, do you think Quidditch will catch on here?
RL: I think it’ll take a little time. It’s hard to expect people to want to do something as wild and wacky as running around broomsticks. The important thing is to keep it open to everyone, keep scrimmaging, and keep things light-hearted. I think the appeal of the sport will speak for itself.

DG: What should interested Quidditch players do? When’s the next meeting time?
RL: We’ll be meeting in the Shane Lounge Wednesdays at 8. Anybody who is interested should look up Swarthmore Quidditch on Facebook; that might be the best way. Or just come to our next meeting. We’ll probably be meeting every Wednesday at 8:00.

DG: Thanks for your time. One last question — when can I get an official Swarthmore Quidditch Team T-shirt?
RL: We’re going to talk about that at our next meeting. We plan to build some Quidditch hoops, and we need money first.

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