If you’ve spent any time on the Main Green, you’ve probably witnessed Brown’s very own dueling it out on the quidditch field and wondered how quidditch is played in the muggle world. Fear not. We’ve got you covered.
How did Brown end up with a quidditch team?
In the fall of his freshman year in 2012, Derik Wagner ’16 and his loyal followers began to ponder a fundamental shortcoming of their new academic surrounding: Why is there no place to play quidditch at Brown?
Despite their pleas to the administration, the sport was ultimately denied official status. However, like minds were conspiring, and finally, two other students formed an independent team. From there, the Providence Ashwinders (originally the India Point Ashwinders), were founded with a full head of steam, gloriously winning the Southern New England Quidditch Conference (SNEQC) championship in their first season.
Today, quidditch at Brown is loosely divided into two groups: The Quidditch Appreciation Club (QuAC) and the Providence Ashwinders. The non-competitive QuAC plays pick-up quidditch and hosts events and activities that pay tribute to the sport through…various expressions of quidditch appreciation. The Providence Ashwinders, on the other hand, are a competitive team that competes against other university quidditch teams. The team’s athletes are mostly Brunonian; however, some talent has been acquired from RISD, JWU and the Providence community at large.
Where do the Ashwinders compete?
The Providence Ashwinders compete in the Southern New England Quidditch Conference, or SNEQC (pronounced “snek-see”), which is a subdivision of US Quidditch (real thing). The conference is made up of other schools, including the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Smith College, Wellesley College and Brandeis University. Unlike most collegiate sports, the season lasts the entire academic school year. At the season’s end, all of teams attend the SNEQC Championship and are seeded based on the points they earned from wins during the regular season. The highest performing teams of each conference championship move on to a regional tournament, which serves as a qualifier to the Quidditch World Cup (again, totally real), hosted in
Hogwarts South Carolina.
How do you play quidditch?
US Quidditch official rules are derived entirely from those described by J.K. Rowling. With that said, due to the lack of magic, it is important to note some key differences between muggle and wizard quidditch.
“We have no enchanted balls,” said Ashwinders co-captain and seeker Max Rosenwasser ’17.
Muggle quidditch is played in tri-meets, meaning three teams attend. While two teams compete, the third referees the match and provides the snitch (more on that below).
The game is played with seven players to a side. Each team has three chasers, who are responsible for throwing the quaffle (red ball in the movies, volleyball for our purposes) through the three hoops to score 10 points. There are also 2 beaters per team who use the bludgers to attack their opponents. In the movies, the bludgers are the balls that hit players off their brooms, sending them plummeting to the ground hundreds of feet below. In muggle quidditch, the bludgers are dodgeballs, and if players get hit, they have to dismount their broom, run back to their hoops, and “remount” in order to continue playing. Each team also has a keeper, or a goalie, who has all the same powers as the chasers, with one important distinction: the keeper can stick their hands through the hoops to prevent teams from scoring.
Lastly, and most importantly, are the seekers. As Harry’s position in the movie, the role of the seeker is one of glory and high stakes. The quarterbacks of quidditch, if you will. The job of the seeker is to catch the elusive, fluttering golden snitch.
In muggle quidditch, there isn’t a fluttering snitch that the seekers can chase, and since the game ends once the snitch is caught, it only comes out 18 minutes into the game. This means that after 18 minutes, a player from the third referee team in the tri-meet will stick a tennis ball in a sock and tuck it into their waistband while the seekers aggressively attempt to retrieve it. The snitches, however, do not play by any of the rules of the game and are meant to do everything in their physical power to prevent the seekers from getting the ball-loaded sock in their pants.
“It’s a dirty job,” said Rosenwasser, who has seen snitches throw players, steal their brooms and even shoot them with Nerf guns.
It should also be noted that quidditch is a full contact sport. You can literally rugby tackle a player who has a ball.
Given the violent nature of the sport, there are strict rules that prevent players from engaging in unnecessary roughness. These are enforced with yellow and red cards, like soccer, and it isn’t unheard of for players to get ejected for getting a little too overzealous.
The Ashwinders host open practices on the Main Green on Sundays and in India Point Park on Friday afternoons. Visit their Facebook page for updates.