Swarthmore is finally D-II in a least one sport.
That’s right, on November 12 and 13, Swarthmore played as a D-II school in the Quidditch World Cup. For those of you who were unaware of this, there is a vibrant community of people playing the magical sport inspired by JK Rowling’s novels of which Swarthmore only became a part of last year. Swarthmore sent five representatives to the World Cup, held on Randall’s Island, New York City to play against teams hailing from as far as Finland.
This year, the International Quidditch Association celebrated its fifth annual World Cup tournament in the ever growing movement.
Present at the tournament were teams from the West Coast, the South, the Canadian North and even some high school teams.
First off, the sport wouldn’t be Quidditch if there wasn’t a broom between everyone’s legs at all times. The broom is, in a sense, just for show, as players are not allowed to fly while Muggles are watching. So they are forced to run.
On every team, there are three chasers who run to the opponent’s hoops and try to throw the quaffle, a deflated volleyball, through them. Two beaters attempt to control the bludgers, or dodgeballs and hit other players with them. This forces the hit players to dismount from their brooms and return to their hoops. The keeper guards the hoops and tends to have only two means of doing so: hope chasers have bad aim or tackle them.
That leaves the famous seeker, who runs after the very animated snitch, a person wearing a tag that needs to be pulled and who is invariably the life and soul of the game.
Snitches, whose capture ends the game and who are worth thirty points, can tackle, slap, push, spin and otherwise mock seekers with relative impunity but tend to return to the Quidditch pitch before too long so that the game can end.
There are always seven players per team on a field, so at the tournament Swarthmore joined forces with players from Penn State, University of Ottawa, University of Miami and University of Massachusetts-Amherst to make a formidable team. All players at the World Cup were there to enjoy themselves and each other. Despite the suddenness of our collaboration Swarthmore began the tournament with an overtime victory against Kurtztown University, and by the end of the day team captain David Kurtzman even made a slogan: “Swarthmore! Penn State! Ottawa! UMass! Miami! By our powers combined, let’s quidditch!”
The rest of the tournament did not exactly go in Swarthmore’s favor. Our following match with Illinois State University was over once we realized that they had opted out of D-1 to have a better chance in the tournament, and the final score had them 100 points in the lead.
The following two games were very close with one ending only in overtime and one being decided by a snitch capture but both resulting in victory. “The game is all about bludger control and aggressive, athletic beaters,” said Charles Capron of the University of Southern California, himself a beater. “You guys need to work on that but you did pretty well.” The culture of Quidditch is one that emphasizes cooperation and positive attitudes off the pitch, and a good solid game on it.
As the Swarthmore team disbanded and its amalgam of players returned to their home teams, we decided to end the Quidditch season for this semester but if anyone wants to fly high this coming semester just look for the people with brooms between their legs and a snitch in their sights.
This isn’t ridiculous. This is Quidditch.
Disclaimer: Chris Capron is a member of the Swarthmore Quidditch team. He attended this tournament along with the rest of the team.