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Around campus

Quidditch goes from sport to campus craze

Quidditch came to Transylvania’s campus in 2009 and hit the ground flying—er—running. Since then, the activity has evolved from a novelty sport to a campus-wide social experience with 200 members and an impact that extends past Transylvania’s campus into Lexington and the rest of the state.

Quidditch cup in New York
The Transylvania Quidditch team played in the Quidditch World Cup at DeWitt Clinton Park in New York City

The sport comes from the popular book series Harry Potter, which imagined wizards flying around on broomsticks and playing a full-contact game in which, at its simplest form, players try to throw flying balls through three hoops. Muggle quidditch (“muggles” referring to non-magical people) was created on college campuses across the country and employed most of the same rules except, presumably, flying is considered cheating.

Transylvania’s quidditch team—the Transylvania Animagi—competes against other colleges in the region, and in November, the team went to New York City to play in the Quidditch World Cup with 45 other colleges. The event picked up major steam around social networks and eventually into mainstream media. The Animagi were one of two teams featured on MTV’s The Seven when host Kevin Manno suited up with the Animagi and played a match on camera, and Transy was one of the teams featured for Time magazine’s story on the World Cup.

“Time said we were perhaps their favorite team,” senior Kristin Grenier, quidditch organizer and team captain, said.

But the sports side of Transylvania Quidditch is only a small part of the student organization. The campus involvement aspect has seen quidditch players throw a Yule Ball dance and deliver chocolates to dorm rooms on broomsticks. During a Sorting Hat Ceremony in which students were placed into Harry Potter houses, President
R. Owen Williams surprised everyone by dressing up in full headmaster garb and delivering a taped introduction.

Chemistry professor George Kaufman has played the role of Golden Snitch (the elusive player whom both teams try to catch to win the game), and Diane Fout, director of student activities and Campus Center, and Karen Anderson, coordinator of community service and civic engagement, have donned Harry Potter garb to participate in quidditch functions.

Even with all the iterations of Transylvania Quidditch, it’s community service that gives the members the most fulfillment. The main focus of the International Quidditch Association (yes, it exists) is to promote the love of literature to youth, and Transy has joined right in.

The team organized a book drive in the fall that collected more than 650 books for underprivileged people in Lexington and participated in Read Across America Day in March. This summer and fall, the team will work with the Seventh Street Kids’ Café to do reading programs.

Transy quidditch team
The Quidditch team delivered chocolate Golden Snitches to students in their dorm rooms as a fund raiser.

“We will encourage kids to read books for rewards like T-shirts and the chance to have us come play an exhibition match for them,” Grenier said. “It’s a way to promote literacy to these kids.”

The team has helped start quidditch teams at other schools in the area, including Henry Clay High School in Lexington and Harrison County (Ky.) High School, and it will host the Tri-State Tournament with teams from Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio in the spring. Transylvania will also host the Kentucky Cup featuring college and high school teams in the state, and over spring break the traveling team played exhibitions at college campuses across Kentucky.

“There are so many things for people to latch onto in quidditch,” Grenier said. “We want to see it remain a fun thing for students to participate in and not see it take itself too seriously.”

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