In his first year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter famously discovers his knack for the game of Quidditch when he faces off against Gryffindor’s greatest rivalry, Slytherin, on a flying broomstick. Many a muggle has, at one point in their lives, tried emulating that moment by picking up a broomstick, and discovering sadly that it stays on the ground. Fortunately, there is a game for muggles that brings the magic of the Harry Potter world while maintaining the laws of gravity: UTM Quidditch.
The UTM Quidditch club, inspired by similar teams in the U.S. and beyond, is essentially a group of individuals that meet and practice this unique sport. This started several years ago by a “Potterhead” (a term used to describe a Harry Potter fan). It not only brings fans together, but it keeps people active in a fun and engaging way as well.
“The three reasons why I initially joined [the club] are fun, friendship and magic,” Meredith Dodds, UTM Quidditch’s president says. A fourth-year major in exceptionality in human learning, she has been part of the club since she first came to UTM in 2014, and finds that the community is what made her stay these past four years. As she puts it, “When a quirky group of human beings decide that they’re going to play Quidditch and really commit to it, it gives me so much love for the community that I’ve found.”
So, what is Quidditch? In J.K. Rowling’s book series, it involves two opposing teams of seven players, each flying on a magic broomstick. They attempt to score points by throwing a ball, called a “quaffle,” through the opponent’s hoops. Players also try to take out other opponents by throwing more balls called “bludgers” at them, while a “golden snitch” is up for grabs by each team’s “seeker”. The golden snitch is the main target in the game because whoever catches it first, wins the match. Muggle Quidditch is played in a very similar way, aside from the flying broomsticks of course. The golden snitch is an actual person dressed in yellow who runs in and out of the court until someone catches them. Practices focus on developing the skills needed to play Quidditch, then progress to scrimmages and culminate in tournaments played across Ontario. “We practice all through the year, through midterms, when it snows,” Dodds explains, “but we have a core, dedicated group of people who come out all the time.”
Although it focuses on the sport, UTM Quidditch puts on other events such as game and trivia nights, and collaborates with various clubs and societies to enhance the Harry Potter experience for students on campus. Last year, they helped out with Biz Frosh, which had a Harry Potter theme, and are always asked by the heads of the Erindale Christian Fellowship to teach its members some Quidditch. This year, they will be working with the English and Drama Student Society to organize the upcoming Harry Potter week.
Dodds believes that the club goes beyond the universe of Harry Potter. She has met a mix of students who are die-hard fans, to those who have never read the book series. There are students who had never been on a sports team and those who were heavily involved in athletics. As she says: “You’re never going to find a more accepting group of people who are willing to put themselves out there and be really goofy. Quidditch is this place that you can just be yourself and just be unironically enthusiastic about the things that you really like.” Dodds believes that whether you are a secret wizard or just a curious muggle, you will find something to love about their club.