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Wizards of the Midway

One new game has UChicago students under its spell.


When you’re playing a wizard sport it’s impossible to lose your sense of humor.

The most Hogwarts-like school must have a Quidditch team.

Or so thought second-year Julia Rittenberg when she arrived on campus last year. “Quidditch is totally necessary!” Rittenerg said. “How can we call it Hogwarts without Quidditch?” 

She found that the magical sport dreamed up by J.K. Rowling and featured in the Harry Potter book series was woefully missing from UChicago.

Led by Evan Weingarten (AB‘12), a team of students won a grant from the Uncommon Fund to change that. The group formed the University’s first Quidditch league with games played between UChicago Houses. 

“It was [Evan’s] organizational wizardry that got [the team] off the ground in the first place,” said Emma Stone, a second-year and co-founder of the team.

Stone, Rittenberg, and a team of other Potter enthusiasts soon followed Weingarten’s lead and pushed to make the team a reality. 

The reasons for the team may be simple, but a lack of magic makes the real world version of Quidditch a little more complicated. According to Weingarten, “If you smashed hockey, dodge ball, and hide-and-go-seek into one game, you’d have Quidditch.” 

The game is played on an oval field with two teams of seven players, each one consisting of three chasers, two beaters, a seeker, and a keeper. The chasers and beaters interact on the field with the keeper nearby at the goal, battling to put the quaffle through the hoop and score. The seeker chases a snitch -- played by a runner who is separate from either team. The game, as in Harry Potter, ends when the snitch is caught and points can be accumulated from the chasers. 

(And if you’re still feeling like a muggle, check out the official rulebook for a full explanation.)

And, with a competitive and energetic team, there must be a uniform. If you are running around with a broom on a Gothic style campus, there is only one thing to make this truly a Harry Potter experience -- a cape. 

While the uniforms are more muggle than wizard, Rittenberg is enthusiastic about the more authentic uniforms on the horizon: “Houses could do this for their tournament teams, if they wanted, and we’d try to get some good stuff going for a school team.” 

Don’t be surprised to see UChicago students sporting maroon and white in their Quidditch team cloaks outside the C-Bench.

Games take place on the Midway and although crowds haven’t reached Hogwarts levels, the sport has more than just current students under its spell. 

“During the prospective student weekends, we had some prospies express interest and watch entire games,” said Weingarten. 

This season, the interhouse games continue to make the Midway magical, but the enthusiasts plan to expand the group and compete with other schools in the Chicagoland area. 

“We should be ferociously competitive once we start defending UChicago’s honor against other schools," said Stone.

Still, she added, "When you’re playing a wizard sport it’s impossible to lose your sense of humor." 


Video by Angela Wang, Class of 2013 


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