How do Waterloo students play quidditch, the airborne Harry Potter game, without flying or magic?

“We’ve gotten good at explaining it to people,” says Nathan Boutilier, president of the new Waterloo quidditch club.  “It’s also one of those games that, once you get going, you learn really fast.”

University of Waterloo quidditch clubThere’s basically one major difference between the quidditch played in the popular Harry Potter books and movies and the one played on campuses around the world.  Non-wizards, known as muggles, can't fly so they must show they are “flying” by keeping a broomstick between their legs during play. Everything else is the same as it is at Hogwarts, the fictional boarding school attended by Harry Potter and his friends.

Positions and nets are the same and points are scored with quaffles and bludgers. In muggle quidditch, quaffles are volleyballs and bludgers are dodgeballs.

The snitch is a player who can run beyond the limits of the playing field to avoid being caught.

More than 60 teams across Canada

Playing quidditch has become an international phenomenon, with teams set up at campuses around the world. In Canada alone, there are more than 62 teams.

Boutilier  says this version of quidditch is more difficult than its magical counterpart because being on the ground requires players to call upon skills from all different sports such as rugby, dodgeball, basketball and soccer. In the end, a wide range of people can enjoy this game, based on different levels of athletic ability.

The club was started at the beginning of the Spring 2013 term by Boutilier and two of his friends,  Vanessa Wainwrite,  club vice president and Jacquelyn Mayo, events co-ordinator.

 “It’s meant for people who just want to celebrate Harry Potter and keep it going because the movies are over, and it’s also there to have an athletic workout once a week,” says Boutilier.

Spring is only the beginning; Boutilier says he’s looking forward to seeing quidditch played in the fall and even winter term.  He welcomes everyone to come and try it out and meet new friends. He says:  “We have a great mix of people.”