Lehigh’s Quidditch team puts a spell on campus

Anna Bold, '15, and Rachel Margraf, '18, watch as a fellow Quidditch club member scores during a recent practice on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, on the lawn behind Whitaker Lab. The Lehigh University Quidditch team was first started in 2013. (Patrick Turpin/B&W photo)

Anna Bold, ’15, and Rachel Margraf, ’18, watch as a fellow Quidditch club member scores during a recent practice on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, on the lawn behind Whitaker Lab. The Lehigh University Quidditch team was first started in 2013. (Patrick Turpin/B&W photo)

When the grass is visible once again on the lawns surrounding Lehigh’s academic buildings, and the sun begins to warm up the campus, the Quidditch team returns to its practice spot behind Whitaker and Mudd to enjoy the sport created by J.K. Rowling.

When Anna Bold, ’15, the president of the Lehigh Quidditch team, and Brianna Chamuris, ’15, arrived on campus as first-year students, they were disappointed that a Quidditch team had not yet been formed. Quidditch teams have become fairly popular at universities across the country. For this reason, they worked hard to create the team and make their dreams of playing the game from the “Harry Potter” books a reality.

“I love Harry Potter,” Bold said. “I went to the Quidditch World Cup a couple of times when I was in high school and I really liked it and I wanted to play on a Quidditch team. When Lehigh didn’t have one, I decided to take matters into my own hands.”

The game of Quidditch, which is played by characters in the fictional “Harry Potter” series, is a two-team sport with the main objective being to score the most goals by throwing one of the game’s four balls into one of the opponent’s three ring-shaped goals. Instead of running, characters in the books play the sport on flying broomsticks.

In real life however, the broomsticks that the players ride on can’t be magically flown around in the air. Instead, players run around on the ground with the broomstick between their legs. There are also other modifications that make the game easier to play without the help of magic.

Bold said that one of the biggest differences is that the snitch, one of the balls used in the traditional game, is actually a person with a ball tucked into the back of their shorts. Traditionally, this flying ball is sought after by the “seeker,” and if the seeker on one team succeeds in catching the snitch, their team automatically wins.

“The seekers still have to try and catch them but it is a little modified in that way,” Bold said.

Another difference is that instead of using the typical two bludgers, another type of ball used in the game, Bold said the team uses three to prevent one team from hoarding this type of ball. Bludgers are used by the “beaters,” another type of player on the team. According to the International Quidditch Association rules, in the non-magic version of the game, bludgers are dodgeballs that beaters throw at the opposing team’s players. If a player is hit by a bludger, that player is temporarily out of the game.

To create a more established team, co-founders Bold and Chamuris read over the official rulebook from the International Quidditch Association to learn the rules themselves so they could teach other members. In addition to their weekly scrimmages during the fall and spring, they organize meetings in Maginnes Hall during the winter months to watch film of other teams playing so they can learn and use their techniques.

Bold and Chamuris also organized a game against Lafayette last semester to get some experience playing other teams.

Rachel Margraf, ’18, said the team had a scrimmage at Lafayette in the fall against their Quidditch team. She said they had a lot of fun and learned new strategies to improve the team’s performance because Lafayette’s team is more established than Lehigh’s.

Even though Bold and Chamuris will graduate this spring, a new leader, Kelly Corrigan, ’17, has already volunteered to step up as president and continue the club on campus.

“We have so much interest at the club fairs that as long as there’s someone running the club and organizing events for it, then it will keep going,” Chamuris said. “The support is there and we have had such a great reception from Lehigh’s administration.”

The club members enjoy playing together, and prior knowledge of the “Harry Potter” series and Quidditch is not a prerequisite to understanding the game and having fun playing it. The numbers of members at a practice usually fluctuates depending on four o’clocks and other events that are happening around campus.

“I think people will be prejudiced because they think Quidditch is nerdy but it’s really not” said Bold. “It can actually get pretty physical. It’s just a really great environment and I’m glad I made it happen.”

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