They weren’t flying on brooms above a Quidditch pitch next to Hogwarts, the magical school of witchcraft and wizardry, but they were definitely playing Quidditch. Summer heat and magical fantasy came face to face on July 27, 2010 at Oxbow Park, located between Goshen and Elkhart, where for one day local Goshen high school and Goshen College students participated in a Quidditch tournament.
Nine Goshen College students participated in the Quidditch tournament this summer: Daniel Driver, a junior, Matthew Amstutz, a sophomore, Lynn Weaver, a sophomore, Jessica Schirch, a freshman, Jake Driver, a freshman, Paul Taylor, a freshman, Daniel Buschert, a sophomore, Matt Nafziger, a sophomore and Colin Gregory, a freshman.
Quidditch, a popular sport in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, is a magical mix of broomsticks, balls, elevated hoops, magically flying balls, fanatic spectators, referees, and commonly—disastrous injuries. At Hogwarts, the sport is played between the four house teams: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
Colin Gregory, playing for Ravenclaw, established the Quidditch tournament held in Goshen. “There’s even an official rule book,” explained Gregory. Currently 400 college campuses have adopted the game and are following the International Quidditch Association official rules. In 2010, the IQA registered as a non-profit organization.
As muggles—or non-wizarding folk—are not able to fly on broomsticks, the adapted version includes a broomstick clause: the players need to hold a broom at all times between their legs. Players can, however, use the brooms to whack other brooms. “A bunch of brooms got broken,” said Matt Nafziger. “I know mine did… my mom was not happy.”
Prior to the Goshen tournament, participants took an online, 120-question test to determine the house-team they would play for.
Nafziger, playing for Slytherin, explained, “Slythernis are clever, pretty smart generally and adept at manipulation —but for good reasons, I suspect.”
The rules of Quidditch are full of magical terminology. For the Goshen Quidditch games, each team played with three chasers, or the players responsible for throwing the quaffle (the soccer ball) through one of three goal hoops. The keeper was the player whose job it was to protect the hoops from the Quaffle.
The two beaters were the players responsible for throwing the bludgers (three foam balls wrapped in Duct tape) at the players to disrupt play. If a player holding a Quaffle was hit, the player had to drop the ball.
“If you weren’t carrying a ball and got hit by a bludger, you had to run back around your hoop,” explained Nafziger. “The game got really tiring,” he added.
In the magical world, the snitch is a flying golden-winged ball that dodges, twists, hides and dives throughout the entire Quidditch game. The muggle version of the snitch was Tyler Wynn, the number one cross-country runner at Goshen High school for three years—clad in all-yellow garb with a soccer-sock holding a tennis ball stuck in his yellow shorts. To catch the golden snitch, the Seeker had to grab the sock from Wynn’s shorts.
However, the snitch and Seeker had free-reign of the entire park, and could leave the pitch to run and hide. The snitch plays broom-less.
“The snitch can do anything they want,” said Nafziger. “They can pick you up and throw you,” added Nafziger, who witnessed a Snitch grabbing a Seeker by the ankles and flipping him over his shoulders. The only stipulation on the snitch is to keep the Quidditch pitch in sight. Before the start of the game, the players close their eyes and look at the ground while the snitch takes off running to hide.
The games were played for fifteen minutes. Points were scored by Chasers throwing the quaffle through the hoops—hula-hoops mounted on PBC pipes stuck into cement-filled tires—and the team with the most points won. Catching the snitch ends the game, and is worth 250 points.
To regulate the game, the referee held two wands, a yellow wand and a red wand. The official rules allow for a great deal of physical contact, but players are not allowed to grab and throw people to the ground—or bite people. Slide tackles, checking and hitting people with brooms are acceptable.
Nafziger admitted to receiving two yellow wands. The first one was for swearing, the second one for throwing the quaffle at a player after he got hit by a bludger.
The winners of the Goshen tournament were Gryffindor, followed by Ravinclaw, Slytherin and then Hufflepuff. “Predictably,” added Gregory after listing Hufflepuff as last.
“It was awesome because people really embraced the house spirit,” said Nafziger. “There was more house spirit than any school spirit I’ve ever been around.”
Will Goshen College soon be filled with broomsticks and quaffles? Gregory anticipates an upcoming tournament here on campus.