With brooms between their legs and pink dye in their hair, the Vassar Quidditch team is not easily missed by people on campus. One of the most eclectic sports held here on campus, the team recently held a collegiate tournament, aptly called The Cup That Shall Not Be Named. Over the course of one Saturday, Vassar hosted seven different schools in the tournament, played aggressive matches of the unique game, and made a statement to the International Quidditch Association (IQA). After the dismay of not being able to attend the World Cup, the team turned the event into what captains are calling something that will go down in Vassar Quidditch history.
Quidditch is a sport that sprouted from the mind of J.K Rowling in her best selling series Harry Potter. Played on flying brooms in the fantasy novels, the sport took on a shape of its own with the creation of what has become “Muggle Quidditch,” a real life interpretation of the fictional game. Vassar Quidditch was one of the second collegiate team to be formed after Middlebury College. The team is well known for playing the first ever world cup against Middlebury in 2007.
Since then, the program has grown exponentially, both within Vassar as well as nationwide. Outgoing co-captain and sophomore Maddy Vogel described how serious quidditch is in an emailed statement. “Quidditch is one of those things that seems like total silliness and fun until you actually play,” wrote Vogel. “It’s always fun, but it’s only sometimes silly. It’s a full contact sport and though Vassar does try to avoid playing too rough, we know how to give and take a hit.”
Freshman incoming co-captain Rebecca Weirfurther defended the authenticity of the game “I think that it takes more dignity and confidence to compete with this intensity while staying on your broom than it does to do it all minus the broom,” explained Weir in an emailed staement.
Since the creation of the IQA, The World Cup championship is held annually. However, this year Vassar did not attend The World Cup for various reasons. Sophomore outgoing co-captain Gabby Scher laid out the issues with this year’s World Cup. “Our team was angry with the way IQA has been running things lately, especially with their decision to not only host the World Cup in Florida, making it extremely expensive for teams to go, but also making it so that you had to qualify for the world cup,” Scher wrote. “We ended up not qualifying, but were never planning on attending, and were planning instead on hosting our own world cup as a sort of ‘Screw you’ to the IQA. We were originally thinking of calling it the ‘Vassar World Cup’ but we felt that might be a little too much, so we came up with ‘The Cup That Shall Not Be Named.’”
The goal of this past tournament was to just play down to earth quidditch in response to the IQA’s drastic changes to the program, as described by Vogel. “This tournament was an amazing experience–we wanted to bring quidditch back to its original roots of fun, fair play, and sportsmanship and I think we managed to do exactly that,” Vogel stated. “It lasted from 10 am till about 5 pm on Saturday, though some teams had arrived the night before since they were from far away. The teams that came were an RPI/Skidmore/high school mercenary team, University of Vermont, Smith, Ithaca, Chestnut Hill, and (of course) Middlebury!”
The tournament ended within the day, with the winning team being the combined mercenary team of RPI, Skidmore, and high school students, and Vassar coming in fourth place overall. “It was really fun to host a tournament!” exclaimed Scher. “Everyone ended up having a great time and we didn’t have any serious injuries, which is always a good thing.”
Weir added, talking about the honor that came with the weekend. “Hosting tournaments means a lot to us. Ever since Vassar and Middlebury played the first ever world cup, we’ve been known as a leader in the sport. Other teams know how Vassar plays on and off the pitch-fairly, passionately, and respectfully.”
Although the team could not attend the World Cup in Florida, hosting The Cup That Shall Not Be Named was appropriate, according to Vogel. “The World Cup has always been held in the North East, and so having a huge tournament that weekend just seemed necessary. We really wanted Middlebury to attend, just for the nostalgia of the first intercollegiate games being Vassar vs Middlebury at the World Cup.”
Although not considered an official sport by some, members of quidditch are very passionate about the team that they love. “Quidditch is the greatest org on campus because we love what we do, we work hard, but we also play hard,” expressed Vogel. “We realize we are playing a sport that originated in a book, and so we try to never take ourselves too seriously. There’s a lot of whimsy and fun on our team, while we work hard to improve our game. I think not having an established season, having free membership, and having open practice 3 times a week are what make our org different from others–and what makes us so special.”
After the tournament, Vogel expressed mixed emotions about the historic event. “This tournament was my life for a long time, and now that it’s over, I feel both proud and very sad,” explained Vogel. “I think the four captains pulled off something amazing and something that Vassar has never seen, but I also put a lot of energy into this tournament so it feels so weird to be done now.”