Education

No flying involved, but Transy students tackle Harry Potter's favorite sport

To answer everyone's first question: No, the Transylvania quidditch team has not discovered the power of human or broom flight.

But even without Harry Potter's ability to hover and dive on his Firebolt broom, there was plenty of swooping, slamming and sliding Sunday as the Transy players competed in their own, Muggle (or non-magical) version of Harry's favorite game.

Transy's John R. Hall Athletics Field is a far cry from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Sunday's fund-raiser for the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning wasn't exactly the Hogwarts quidditch championship, but the keepers, beaters and seekers still tried their best to put the slightly deflated volleyball through the circular goals.

Muggle quidditch is not a matter of athletic prowess so much as determination. As freshman Carolyn Meiller put it: "When you put a broom between your legs, everyone kind of evens out."

Certainly, it takes agility to run holding a broom between your legs and a ball in one arm, as your cape flaps behind. The beaters try to get the ball away, the keepers try to stop the ball, and as promised, there was plenty of full contact, especially with a couple of inches of icy snow on the ground.

Quidditch's mischievous, magical golden snitch is played by a person, who gets to be as naughty as he wants, just as long as he doesn't get caught by the seekers.

In this case, snitch Brandon Fain moved goal posts, hid behind the bleachers, and defended himself with a green light saber, thereby confusing an already muddled audience with mixed movie metaphors.

Not that weather helped entice many spectators. Griffin Sims, 7, came with his parents, Laura and Teague, because he had just finished the second Harry Potter book, and wanted to see quidditch in real life.

"It looks funny," Griffin concluded.

His mother, Laura Sims, teaches English at The Lexington School, and said she had taught the Harry Potter books because "you can teach it on such a deep level." In one eighth-grade class, she compared author J.K. Rowling's works with psychiatrist Carl Jung's theories of the shadow, our inner fears and weaknesses that we want to keep hidden but appear in unintentional ways.

And certainly for these college students, Harry Potter books and movies have dominated popular culture for more than half their lives. Muggle quidditch teams have popped up all over the country; the Transy team recently returned from the World Cup in New York City. It was won by Middlebury College in Vermont, which started the first such team in 2005.

"I love that this is student-organized activity," said captain Kristin Grenier, a Transy senior who was the seeker. "There's a lot of creativity, a lot of fun, and so many people get involved."

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