Sports

Muggles rejoice: Edmonton Quidditch scene rapidly growing

Although his enjoyment of the Harry Potter franchise initially drew him in to quidditch, it was the sport itself that brought Chris Radojewski back.

When you envision quidditch, you might imagine an exact recreation of the game invented by J.K, Rowling, robes and all — but the actual sport played in the muggle world is far from that.

The nomenclature remains largely the same as it does in the books. There are seekers, beaters, and chasers, in addition to a quaffle, snitch, and bludgers, but the way they’re employed is slightly different. Since there isn’t an actual magic snitch, it is reimagined as a person that the seeker can chase around throughout the match, and if they are able to detach a flag from the back of the snitch’s shorts, they will be awarded 30 points. Instead of iron cannonballs, the bludgers are dodgeballs, and any player hit with one must retreat to their own hoop before rejoining the action, as opposed to suffering a life threatening fall from a broom as was depicted so often in the books.

In reality, there are three separate games going on in any one game: the attempts by the chasers to score on the opposing team’s hoops which is reminiscent of handball, the attempts by the seeker to catch the snitch (who is released at the 18-minute mark of each game), which is similar to flag football, and the attempts by the beaters to control the bludgers, of which there are only three, something that Radojewski referred to as “bludger superiority.” Teams fighting for bludgers within the game has a dodgeball-like quality, as they try to control the majority of bludgers, while still attempting to eliminate the opponent’s chasers.

As evidenced by the complexity of the rules, this is far from the Harry Potter cosplay that some might imagine when the word “quidditch” is first mentioned to them. It’s a separation of the sport and the Harry Potter universe that Radojewski was quick to point out.

“What keeps me playing quidditch is a love of the sport itself, not my love of Harry Potter,” Radojewski said.

“Quidditch is a very intense sport by itself, and that’s what I like to play.”

Currently, Edmonton hosts the Edmonton Aurors quidditch club, which is a more recreational form of the game, new members are encouraged to come and try the sport. The Aurors are affiliated with the Alberta Clippers, which is a competitive team made up of players from both Edmonton and Red Deer. Most seasoned players from the Aurors club also play with the Clippers.

Due to a lack of close competition, the Clippers haven’t had many competitive matches of late, last year meeting a team from Winnipeg for a game in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but Radojewski, who currently sits on the Aurors executive team, said that the goal is to grow the sport so that more local games are possible.

“There’s a logistical challenge before we sort of hit a tipping point, but that’s what we’re working towards,” Radojewski said.

“As the development teams pick up speed and become competitive teams in themselves, you’re going to have a really growing region, and (the game) has grown really fast in Edmonton specifically.”

The Aurors also want to branch out the University of Alberta, where there was a loose amalgamation of quidditch enthusiasts, but no formal organization.

Fellow player and Aurors executive Marysia Wojcik was involved with quidditch at the university, but said the organization never really materialized into anything more than that.

“There were no set times, and I don’t think there was any set leadership,” Wojcik said.

The game itself certainly does appeal to a university audience, as third year business student Indiana Nikel would attest. He said he was drawn in by the sport’s unique dynamic.

“It’s almost three different games played in one,” Nickel said.

“There’s the quaffle game, which is like handball or rugby, then there’s the beater game, which is like the dodge ball side of it, and then there’s the seeking, which is a whole different monster.”

Wojcik also mentioned the added benefit of local competition and support if a club were to be formed at the university.

“The Edmonton Aurors are great, but to have two teams in one city would immediately make it more fun,” Wojcik said.

“We would actually have somebody to play against, and the teams would be really be able to support each other.”

This weekend, the Clippers will be hosting a tournament in Kelowna against several teams from Alberta, B.C., and the U.S. Teams from Simon Fraser university, the University of Victoria and UBC will be competing, as well as the Rain City Raptors, a team based in Washington State, and a team from Western Washington university.

Radojewski said he was looking forward to playing some different competition.

“Kelowna is the opportunity to really bring teams together,” Radojewski said.

“Last year we didn’t have a competitive game until Nov. 14, this year it was Oct. 3, so people know what it’s like to play at a higher level, and they know what to work towards.”

Ultimately, all the players I talked to all mentioned one thing: the fact that quidditch is more than just a make-believe sport that exists because of Harry Potter.

“I go to the gym, I train, not because of my love of Harry Potter, but because I want to be a better quidditch player,” Radojewski said.

“I don’t really play (quidditch) because of Harry Potter, I play it because it’s a fun sport. I play rugby, I play soccer, this is just another sport that I like to play,” Nikel said.

“Being a Harry Potter fan definitely brought me to quidditch, but it didn’t make me stay, it’s the actual sport that I like, and the community and the people,” Wojcik said.

The Edmonton Aurors hold regular practices at Kinsmen Park every Sunday, and will continue to practice indoors once the weather gets too cold. A regional tournament will be held for competitive teams from western Canada on Feb. 1, and Canadian nationals will be held from March 27-28 in Burnaby B.C.

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