Monday, July 20, 2009

Why is there a broomstick in my keister?(quiddich? really?)


Quidditch isn't just for 'Harry Potter' anymore: College 'Potter' fans make magic game real
Monday, July 20th 2009, 4:00 AM

Harbus for News
And you thought it was only for wizards! The Vassar Quidditch team scores 10 points during a recent scrimmage.

Harbus for News
Players from the Vasser Quidditch team vie for the loose ball.
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They can't fly, and they don't have any magical powers.
But that doesn't stop groups of college students across the country from playing Quidditch, the midair "sport" from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.
The broom-based game has become something of an underground cult activity among young adults who came of age in the Potter era.
You may have seen a glimpse of the sport in a recent ad for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," in which a girl daydreams about a muddy match.
That daydream is a reality for 21 year-old Michael Sandstrom, a Vassar College sophomore from Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., who, spent one recent rainy Friday chasing a "snitch" at Nyack's Memorial Park.
He and six teammates, brooms between their legs ("Brooms up!" is the rallying cry), are in the off-season of the game, which was originally adapted into a land-based activity (blame gravity) by Middlebury College student Xander Manshel about four years ago.
At the first Quidditch World Cup two years ago, Middlebury hosted Vassar, which then had the only other college Quidditch team in existence. Now, more than 200 colleges either have or have expressed interest in starting a Quidditch team, according to the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association — a loosely structured governing body of the sport.
(Incidentally, if you're too old for Hogwarts, you're too old for Quidditch: Warner Bros. has been known to prohibit for-profit sports leagues from picking up brooms and starting a league. College kids and other "amateurs" are welcome to swat the snitch around).
Rank these imaginative athletes as among the most inspired of the Potter generation. "The books came out when I was around the same age as Harry Potter," says rising junior Michelle Cantos, 19, the outgoing captain of Vassar's squad, from Congers, N.Y. "I was waiting for my letter from Hogwarts. We went through our teenage years together and we had this bond.
"So when I came to Vassar and found out we had a Quidditch team, I was like, 'Oh my God, this is so amazing,' and I was immediately hooked."
Cantos is a beater, a defensive player who hurls bludgers, or red dodge balls, at opposing players. From there, well, you have to have read the books to get it. When she hits someone with her bludger, the make-believe begins: That player must drop his or her quaffle and circle the hoops to make up for the time lost as though he or she had actually fallen off the broom mid-flight.
Muggle Quidditch cleverly accounts for many of the impossibilities of playing a fantasy sport that takes place in the air on broomsticks. The "Golden Snitch" is a tennis ball in a sock. The quest for the snitch has led Sandstrom into a dumpster and through a maze of bushes.
The "quaffle" is a volleyball. Goals are mounted Hula-Hoops. The brooms are borrowed from closets or purchased at dollar stores, and players wear safety goggles to avoid a stick in the eye. And, of course, capes.
"My family thinks it's hilarious, especially since I was always more of a mathlete and less of an athlete in high school," says Cantos. "There was a lot of laughter at my expense, but they're all supportive."
"It's good being that kid who plays Quidditch because it's so phenomenally ridiculous, and yet, so amazingly fun," says David Bridgman-Packer, 19, a rising sophomore from Valley Cottage and the incoming captain of Vassar's team. "What Quidditch lets you do is get a great workout, have a great time, and meet people who are just as nerdy as you are."

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