Marlboro College

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Marlboro College Plays Quidditch,
Minus Flying Brooms

This fall, students at Marlboro College have been enjoying several games of Quidditch, a magical game played by the characters in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The Marlboro students can’t fly around on broomsticks, but the college’s adaptation of the game stays as faithful as possible to Rowling’s enchanted game.

Marlboro’s version of Quidditch uses most elements present in the books: three goal hoops and three different kinds of balls in the air at one time: one quaffle (scoring ball), several bludgers (attack balls), and a snitch (an elusive flying ball).

Quidditch combines three games in one: ultimate Frisbee, dodge ball, and wild goose chase. Players pass the quaffle towards the goal hoops while trying to avoid the bludgers thrown randomly from the sidelines, as the two seekers try to stay out of everyone’s way while chasing the snitch. Players hit by a bludger get a 30 second time out. Each quaffle score earns 25 points; the game ends when the snitch, worth 150 points, is captured. It is possible to capture the snitch and lose the game.

When devising the game, Outdoor Program Director Randy Elliott-Knaggs experimented to find objects that would best approximate the spirit of Rowling’s game. He found that Splash Bomb balls are great for bludgers—because they explode with water on contact, it’s easy to determine who’s been hit—and there is an extra incentive for dodging the water ball.

For the snitch, Elliott-Knaggs found an elegant solution: a rubber band-propelled flying helicopter-like toy that spans the length of a soccer field and descends in an erratic and unpredictable pattern.

Elliott-Knaggs first created the game for his three children, who are 10, 12, and 14 years old. When they started playing it over the summer, people of all ages showed up to play. He’s organized several Quidditch practices on campus—students have found the game both athletically challenging and imaginative. It’s also a great way to feel connected to the series they love; the newest movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, opens on November 18.

For more information, contact Elena Sharnoff at (802) 251-7644 or sharnoff@marlboro.edu.

Founded in 1946, Marlboro College offers undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, graduate study focused on Internet technologies. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 350-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont. Marlboro has been selected as one of 40 Colleges that Change Lives. (http://www.marlboro.edu/news/promotional/change_lives.html).

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