Don’t quit on Quidditch
Surviving a dechartering scare injected the Quidditch team with a boost of energy going into the fall.
After a rocky start to the semester, the Quidditch team is bouncing back! They have faced a dechartering scare, several illnesses and a change in leadership — but they pulled off a bake sale on Saturday night and are anticipating a weekend of strong play at next week’s Regional competition. During Saturday’s bake sale, the Justice had the opportunity to interview team member Vidisha Jha ’23 and captains Tess Kowalski ’21 and Jeremy Goodsnyder ’20 about the triumphs and challenges of the semester so far and their hopes for the future.
The team almost lost their club charter at the beginning of the semester because, through a miscommunication with the Senate, they had not filled out anti-hazing forms. Chartered clubs receive funds from the Senate. As reported in an Oct. 8 Justice article, while in Vermont for a tournament, Kowalski received a message from a friend on the Senate asking if she realized her club were about to lose their charter. Her reaction? “No, I didn’t know that!” she told the Justice. According to Kowalski in the interview, the Senate thought Quidditch had been ignoring their emails because they were “secretly hazing people.” To Kowalski, that was ridiculous: “This is Quidditch, we don’t haze people!” After an extensive email search, Kowalski discovered two mass-emails in her spam folder. Eventually, after back-and-forth emails with Club Support Committee Chair Joseph Coles and an appearance before the Senate, Quidditch regained their charter — unanimously.
Asked what Quidditch uses Senate funding for, Kowalski explained that the money goes toward travel expenses. Per the Oct. 8 Justice article, Senate funding is critical for the team and allowed them to participate in Nationals last year. “We were really stressed,” Kowalski said on Saturday, adding, “If we were dechartered we wouldn’t have vans to go to games and practices. We were sad because we have a lot of newbies, and we’re really excited and we didn’t want them to not be able to play.” The team seems proud of their new members; speaking about a recent tournament at Middlebury, Goodsnyder said, “We had freshman Seekers catch [the] Snitch both games, and it was really exciting.”
The team will be competing at Regionals in Warwick, RI this coming weekend. They are part of the Massachusetts Quidditch Conference, which Kowalski said includes teams from Harvard, Middlebury, Boston University, Skidmore, Syracuse, [Brandeis], Tufts, UMass Amherst, New York University , Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She added, “At the beginning of the year, … [the] commissioner who runs it organizes a lot of round robins, and three or four teams play at each one each weekend.” The Brandeis team has five weekends of games in the semester, and has played three weekends so far.
The sport of Quidditch was originally invented for the fictional characters of the Harry Potter series, in which it was a popular game played on flying broomsticks. Real-life collegiate Quidditch players do not fly, but follow most of the books’ game’s rules with only slight modification. They even have their own broomsticks, which the team wear during practices and at tournaments. Brooms are “a PVC pipe,” said Goodsnyder, with Kowalski adding, “Three and a half to four feet [long] — it’s standardized.” Goodsnyder laughed, “You just run around with it between your legs. It’s not uncomfortable — you get used to it. It’s not painful or anything like that.” Kowalski clarified, however, that Quidditch is “a full contact sport.” Jha laughed, saying that she had known she wanted to do Quidditch when she began at Brandeis, but hadn’t realized “how much physical contact it would be — which made it even better. It’s a really great way to stay in shape while also staying nerdy.”
Expanding on the world of collegiate Quidditch, team members explained that it is “so much more than [Harry Potter],” per Goodsnyder. He added that some team members have not even read or seen Harry Potter — Quidditch has its own appeal. When Jha told her father she enjoys playing Quidditch in college, he was “confused how [Jha] ended up in a full-contact sport which is also Harry Potter,” she recounted. More generally, though, she said that when she tells people that she plays, “Everyone is pleasantly surprised. They say, ‘Oh, that sounds like a fun activity!’”
Jha enjoys the social element of the team as well as the sport itself. “I feel close to everybody on the team already, even though it’s only been a few months,” she said. As a longtime Quidditch member, Kowalski feels similarly: “This semester, we’ve done a really good job of incorporating a lot of events out of practice … to just get to know each other on and off the pitch.” Citing the team’s tough start to the semester, with many members becoming sick or injured, Kowalski added, “It’s been hard for the team to not have the most consistent schedule or people at practice. … [Bonding events] have really helped people who are still core members of this team to feel really confident going forward.” Goodsnyder agreed, saying, “Building good relationships on and off the pitch is key to having a strong team, so it’s been at the top of the list.” Goodsnyder explained that in addition to helping raise money, the bake sale is an opportunity for team bonding. “We’re baking and playing games and all that stuff!” Jha agreed, saying, “It’s a nice experience to have something constructive to do with the team that isn’t playing.”