Grinnell College enters magical realm
Grinnell College can be proud of its Quidditch Club, formed on campus last fall. But wait -- isn't Quidditch the high-flying magical game in J.K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter series? Yes ... And don't Quidditch players fly on brooms? Well, yes ... But now, thanks to Elif Karatas '12 and Chris Dorman '12, the "muggles" on campus can play as well.
Karatas originally heard about the Quidditch league through her local newspaper, and was encouraged to create a team at Grinnell. Without knowing about Karatas' interest in Quidditch, Dorman independently filled out the forms to create a new club only a week later. SGA members asked if the two groups might merge into just one Quidditch Club. "At first it made me uneasy, because I had no idea who [Karatas] was, because we were just first-years, and this was the beginning of school," Dorman says. But the merger was magically successful, and the strength of the group has been building ever since.
Middlebury College students first adapted Quidditch for non-wizards, and the game has spread wildly across the nation, on college campuses and among Harry Potter enthusiasts everywhere. The basic rules remain the same as in the books: to score, the quaffle (a volleyball or dodge ball) must be thrown through three hoops at opposite ends of a field by chasers; beaters try to de-broom the chasers with bludgers (nerf balls); and seekers go head to head to capture the snitch (a cross country runner).
The snitch, who is allowed to dart across the entire campus, is a popular aspect of the adapted game. Marcus Zeitz '12 is a member of Grinnell's cross country team and volunteered to play the elusive snitch. Zeitz remains amazed that something like non-magical Quidditch exists. "I never thought I would live to see the day when I would be chased by people on broomsticks," he says. The chase entertains everyone. "It was really funny watching the seekers try and chase him, because they got really tired really quickly," Karatas says,
Last fall, 11 college quidditch squads met at the first Quidditch World Cup. Every team left with a good experience and new friends. Karatas and Dorman hope to participate in the World Cup as early as next year. Additionally, they hope to mobilize more people who have expressed interest to join the weekly match, continue to have lots of fun, and maybe even get uniforms -- perhaps capes -- for the team.
Regardless of how popular the sport becomes at Grinnell, Karatas and Dorman won't have any regrets. Both expressed excitement about the new friends they had made and the prospect of the Quidditch pitch as a place to form new friendships.
For now, they revel in the eccentricity. Dorman mentions being noticed on campus. "The looks that people were giving me as I walked across campus holding a dodge ball, wearing a cape ... riding a broomstick, were just great," he says.
They even have plans to address the non-flying issue. With a smile and true Grinnellian ambition, Karatas expresses hope. "We're thinking, you know, by senior year, if we can develop some sort of magnetic field and use metal broomsticks ... we'll be able to fly."