UWaterloo Ridgebacks make magic on the field

Photo courtesy Ben Holland photography

Have you ever passed by one of the rec fields and seen a group of people with poles between their legs? Stop and cheer, because you’re looking at the UWaterloo Quidditch team, the Ridgebacks!

This past weekend the team competed in the East Regional Championship of Quidditch at Iceland Fields in Mississauga. The sport is a modified version of the fictional game from the Harry Potter series. It is best described as a mix between dodgeball and capture the flag.

The team ended up placing seventh overall, but were able to finally put the cruciatus curse on McGill, a university Quidditch team that has followed UW closely in standings for years. Team captain John Keates was elated with the win: “By far beating McGill was our best moment of the tournament. We’ve had this rivalry for four years! They’re a top three team in all of Canada so when we had to force them to take the snitch [causing forfeit], it felt great.”

The team of 22 spent two days hurling bludgers and tossing quaffles, facing off against McGill, Carleton, Queens, and UOttawa on the first day of the tournament and then rallying to play Univeristy of Montreal and UofT Scarborough. Despite being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the tournament, the team has an exciting outlook for the future.

“We have no more upcoming games for the rest of the term, but we are hoping to host a tournament of our own, hopefully in the next term,” explained team chaser Courtney Butler. “Honestly, we don’t have too much support from the student body — except from Athletics, who pays for our transportation. I think people get the wrong idea about the sport.”

Keates agreed, “People don’t understand that Harry Potter Quidditch from the book is so much different than what we do. We’ve adapted it to be a real, full-contact sport. There are injuries.” He added, “And you don’t have to love the Harry Potter series. We have people on the team who have never read the books, they just love the sport.”

Butler herself joined the team out of a love for athletic competition rather than fantasy books. “I was introduced to Quidditch through a friend at another university. I didn’t care about the books, I just love how competitive it is. I’ve played sports all my life and I wanted to try something new that was a combination of sports.”

It’s not just Canadian Muggles who are getting into the game. According to Keates and Butler, the international scene for Quidditch is exploding: “There are dozens of nationally ranked teams in Canada. They go on to compete internationally — this year it’s in Germany. Countries from literally all over the world come to play — Korea, Australia, teams from South America, everyone. It’s way bigger than people realize. The US has over 130 nationally ranked Quidditch teams,” said Keates.

So the next time you hear about Quidditch on campus, or happen to see the team practicing, why not stop and check it out and give them some encouragement? You might just discover something you never knew about the savage sorcerer’s sport.


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