Quidditch, a now non-fictional game created by J.K Rowling in her magically successful fictional series “Harry Potter,” has become as common of a staple for the Vassar student body as a Weasley being placed in Gryffindor. Vassar College boasts the second oldest Quidditch team after Middlebury College, who created the game in the Muggle world around seven years ago. The first ever World Cup match was played between Middlebury and Vassar College. The College’s aspiring witches and wizards adopted all the rules from the Potter books, but unfortunately, seeing as we live in the Muggle world, they are grounded to playing with a broom between their legs. But this hasn’t stopped them from trying all the same. If you live in Davison House and you look out your window on either Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-5 p.m. you may think that your dreams have come true and that you finally arrived at Hogwarts after receiving your letter. However, alas this is not the case, and it’s actually just the Vassar Butterbeer Brewers, and they’re welcoming of like minded Potterheads.
Junior Emily Stensloff, a chaser, wrote in an emailed statement, “The snitch is one of the better positions because they don’t really have very many rules that they need to follow. It gives them the allowance of being really annoying jokesters, which might not be fun for the seekers, but is definitely entertaining for the spectators.”
Captain and sophomore Max Fine, who plays the position of beater, wrote about the physical aspect of the game in an emailed statement: “The atmosphere at tournaments varies. We faced teams that were very fond of tackling and playing aggressively at our first away tournament this semester.” Though this kind of play is not necessarily against the rules, it’s frowned upon by the world’s second oldest team. When Vassar hosts tournaments, it generally doesn’t invite teams who play an aggressive style of Quidditch. Fine described them, “Our home tournaments are competitive, but they’re also a little more relaxed by comparison. We always hug the opposing team when we finish a match, regardless of whether or not we won or lost. While we’re a competitive team, we try to make sure that we play fairly and most importantly, have fun.”
Physicality isn’t what one would assume to have on a Quidditch pitch, but a quick YouTube search will show the interested observer that Quidditch games can quickly become a field full of contact with more than just a deflated dodge ball. Stensloff added to Fine’s statements concerning the choice of teams invited to the exclusive Vassar tournament, “Mostly we get along with the other teams at our tournaments because we invite teams that fit with our Quidditch-philosophy. We aren’t going to invite a team that we know doesn’t like to play by the rules or that is overly aggressive. Because we invite teams we have previous good interactions with, it tends to make the atmosphere at tournaments really relaxing and fun.”
Vassar has hosted one tournament so far this semester, the Butterbeer Classic, and Fine was pleased with the team’s result, “Our tournament went very well, we had three victories and two losses, and came in second place overall. Everyone played phenomenally.” Their record supports Stensloff’s statement about team spirit and management, “We tend to play competitively, but not aggressively. Other teams have different styles. So we go in with different strategies for different teams. But no matter the level of aggression, I’d say that it’s always competitive at least to some degree.”
Stensloff was also happy with their most recent competition, “The tournament went pretty well. The weather was beautiful, which was such a nice change from the Butterbeer Classic last year. It was like playing Quidditch in Antarctica. Also, I’m pleased at how smoothly things ran because we had a last minute cancellation. Fortunately, our captains were able to quickly rework the schedule. It was great having Smith and Middlebury back, too, because they’re always wonderful teams to play against.”
The Quidditch community is strong not only with opposition but within Vassar. The team draws players from the general student body, tabling in the College Center, and having open practice. This year they even held a special event during freshmen orientation. Fine commented on the Quidditch family saying, “The team gets dinner together after our practices. We also have weekly readings of Harry Potter.” Stensloff talked about prematch rituals, “We have a chant and dance. Usually the dance is reserved for important games, but the chant is said before every game.”
The biggest tournament of the year, The World Cup hosted by the International Quidditch Association, has member teams from at least 12 different nations. The Butterbeer Brewers do not compete, which may be in part to fear that the events that transpired at the Quidditch World Cup in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” would reoccur. However, Vassar does host the most coveted of tournaments in the spring, with the winner receiving “The Cup That Shall Not Be Named.” As may have been noticed, the allusion to Harry Potter within the Quidditch community is rife; one comes across it as often as finding a Slytherin in Knockturn Alley.