Brooms Up!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Written by Nick Marinac

Yes, you read it right. The University of Guelph hosted their first ever Quidditch tournament on October 24, and needless to say it was magic. Through rain and hail, the aspiring Victor Krums and Ginny Weasleys from U of Toronto, Guelph, Valhalla, U of Toronto SC, Ryerson, York, and Waterloo all came for an intense day of competitive Quidditch. For those of you currently googling Quidditch, I’ll give you a quick run down: based off J.K. Rowlings’ fictional sport from the epic Harry Potter book series, it’s not exactly a simple game, and the rules get more intricate per situation. The setup is seven v. seven with one overarching rule: you must have a “broom” (a four foot PVC pipe is national regulation) between your legs at all times in order to move. 

There are three ‘Chasers’, two ‘Beaters’, a ‘Keeper’ and ‘Seeker’. The three Chasers and Keeper are concerned with the “Quaffle”: a slightly deflated volleyball (to mimic the shape of the stiff fictional ball, with three major dimples). The Quaffle is live at all times, so Chasers and Keepers can pass the ball while running, with no limit to how far you can move while in control. They then try to throw the Quaffle through one of the three golden hoops, guarded by the Keeper, earning their team ten points. While the battle for the Quaffle rages, the two beaters run around trying to obtain two of the possible three “Bludgers” (dodge balls). Beaters can hit anyone on the field with the dodge balls forcing them to run back to their end, causing all sorts of problems for Chasers trying to score, who have to drop the quaffle and reset.

The last part of the game play is the Seeker: they are only concerned with one thing, the ‘Golden Snitch’. In the books, the snitch is an exceptionally elusive yellow, walnut sized ball with wings. In the real rendition, it’s someone dressed in yellow, with a tennis ball strapped to their shorts. At the 17 minute mark, the “Snitch” is released, and starts running around the pitch, with the allowance to push and pull the seekers all they want. The game only ends when one of the Seekers finally catches that tennis ball, but the team with the highest score wins.  In the book, catching the Snitch is worth 150 points, but in this version, it’s worth 30 so that the score is kept proportional to how many Quaffle goals are scored.

Lastly, it’s pretty much full contact. In rugby-esque style you can tackle the ball carrier above the knees as long as you keep one hand on your “broom”. The contact gets heated¾ I myself accrued a Red Card for illegal tackling… learning curves right? I’m only a rookie, but had an amazing time with a truly welcoming group.

Guelph has two teams that compete against other schools: The “University of Guelph Quidditch” team, and “Royal City”. Royal City consists of primarily new players, including myself, so the day was filled with learning rules and strategy for this elaborate sport. Being an ex-NCAA/Junior A hockey player (not a very good one mind you, note the ‘ex’), I’ve been in a few nerve racking moments with sport but I’ll be honest, my butterflies were screaming with excitement as I clutched my ‘broom’ waiting for the booming “Brooms Up!” from the referee to start the match. It was fast, it was rough, and it was exhilarating. Since hanging up the skates I’ve missed that adrenaline rush you get from contact sports, but Quidditch was a quick reminder of how rough it gets when people get competitive, and I loved it.

To start off the day, it was the first game for many players on Royal City, the opposite for a well-coached Waterloo team. Waterloo came out on top 170-40* (the * in the scoring means that team caught the snitch¾ you can catch the snitch and still lose). Game two followed immediately, so the team carried a touch of fatigue as they took the pitch against York, another young team with learning players. Royal City was edged in overtime despite a miraculous effort from Michael Gomes to catch the Snitch and make it 70-70*, forcing OT. York was quick to the Quaffle, scoring twice to win it 90-80*. The final game for Royal City was against an extremely strong U of T team, falling 120*-30. Royal City Captain Shantel DeVuono spoke highly of the team following the tournament despite a rough day on the scoreboard. “It’s tough for a new team coming into the sport to play against teams who have had years of development. We fought hard and most importantly, the learning and experience the new players took from this tournament will show in our games to come.”

The UoG team opened their day against Ryerson with an amazing defensive showing at 140*-0. They took the pitch again at 12:20 against Valhalla. A tight battle led to the Snitch released at a 60-60 tie, ultimately losing by a Snitch catch making it 90*-60. Regrouping nicely, the team rallied in game three against U of Toronto SC, relentlessly scoring 160*-0. This gave UoG a bid to the semi finals, playing another talented Waterloo team which got the better of them in a rain soaked match, 60*-20. The final game of the tournament was a strong Valhalla team against WU. Valhalla was on a roll, coming out 70*-20 as the first ever Guelph Quidditch Tournament Champions.

In speaking with Captain Denver Staines, “We could not have asked for a more successful tournament. It was our first-ever home tournament and despite the rain we still had lots of people come to check it out and cheer the teams on.” You could feel the smiles through the abysmal weather, and Denver’s was no different addressing the squad with fellow captains Sam Chomyc and Brad Connolly after the chilling semi final, ending with “We are looking forward to having this tournament become an annual tradition.”

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