Catch That Snitch!

If you’re not a member of the wizarding world, you can be forgiven for not knowing about Quidditch. In the Harry Potter series, Quidditch is a magical sport played by wizards who fly around on broomsticks, dodging hazards and scoring points by either knocking balls into a goal or catching the elusive golden “snitch.” One enterprising athlete from Middlebury College painstakingly adapted the rules for an on-the-ground version of the game. (Yes, he kept the broomsticks.) While at first it was just a sport for college fantasy geeks, Quidditch is now one of the fastest growing club sports, and it’s even trickled down into some high schools—including the Ursuline School in New Rochelle. The Ursuline Koalas were one of 46 teams that took the field at the sport’s biggest tournament, the Quidditch World Cup, in the fall. (The tournament drew 20,000 spectators.) We caught up with Urusuline American History teacher Jackie Geller and Italian teacher Francesca LaGumina—the club’s moderators—to ask them about the road to the cup.

How does Quidditch compare to other sports?
JG: It’s more physical; tackling is allowed! You have to run while holding the broom, so you have to become adept at throwing and catching with one hand.
FL: Then there are ‘beaters’ who can throw softer balls at you to keep you from scoring, and a ‘snitch’ that, if you catch, you get thirty points, just like in the book. For us, the snitch is usually a track star who has the freedom to run anywhere and is wearing yellow with a softball attached to her back. There’s also a seeker who catches the snitch.
JG: So it’s like a combination of dodgeball, soccer, and rugby.
Brooms: Firebolt or Nimbus 2000?
JG: When we started, the girls were practicing with brooms from Francesca’s garage.
FL: For the World Cup, you need to use official brooms. They’re smooth, so they don’t give you splinters.
Who does the team usually play?
FL: At practices, the girls usually play each other. Sometimes we invite boys from other local schools to come and play with us.
JG: There’s nobody local to play against yet. That puts them at a disadvantage.
What was the atmosphere like at the Quidditch World Cup?
JG: It was like the Super Bowl!
How’d they do?
FL: They were one of only three high school teams, and the only all-girls high school team. They didn’t do well on that first day, but, believe it or not, when they had a scrimmage against Harvard—they won!
JG: They also got a lot of good advice, and a lot of help and training from the other teams.

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