Edmonton to host as major Quidditch destination next weekend

The Summer Solsnitch is Western Canada’s largest fantasy quidditch tournament, taking place June 25 at the Edmonton Rugby Football Club.

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In quidditch, the snitch is a player who runs across the field with a tennis ball dangling from his belt, a target for both teams to grab. This is important for quidditch; catching the snitch scores 30 points and ends the game.

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It’s no surprise, then, that the Aurors, Edmonton’s quidditch team, are honoring it by naming Western Canada’s greatest quidditch fantasy tournament, the Summer Solsnitch, to be held June 25 at the Edmonton Rugby Football Club. The tournament will attract players from across North America to compete in a sport from the Harry Potter universe books and movies.

“Edmonton really grabbed this one. We’re throwing a great Solsnitch,” says Jasper Whitby, vice-president of the Edmonton Aurors, who uses the pronouns them/they.

Whitby says the tournament is a great place for new players to learn the game and experienced veterans to come together for midsummer camaraderie. Players register individually and are drafted in teams of seven; they hope to attract around 60 people for this year’s Summer Solsnitch, the same number they had before COVID canceled games in 2020 and 2021.

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Quidditch first appeared in the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, released in 1997. Harry and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry compete against each other by flying on magic broomsticks, throwing balls through hoops and chasing a golden bird.

The game was brought to the field in 2005 in New England. It grew slowly through recreational leagues and varsity teams. McGill University in Montreal will host Canada’s first quidditch team, and it will spread across the country from there.

“Quidditch is just fun chaos. It’s this mix of handball, but also dodgeball, flag football, there’s a broom between the legs,” says Whitby.

Whitby joined the Edmonton Aurors Quidditch Club in 2018 and also coaches the club’s recreational team. The club also hosts a competitive team that travels the country and a youth team for players between the ages of eight and 15.

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The draw for Whitby isn’t the mechanics, the strategy or even the athleticism of the sport.

“Inclusiveness is really important to me,” says Whitby. “I do a lot of other sports; football, ultimate frisbee, water polo. But these are all very gender binary sports. Quidditch is quite unique in that it’s not a mixed sport, it’s a mixed sport.

In a team of seven, there are at most four players of the same gender at a time. According to Whitby, this helps create space for trans or gender non-conforming people; the rule applies to their gender identity.

This acceptance can help the sport grow, but quidditch can be difficult for new players to understand. There’s a lot going on on the pitch at once, with up to four balls flying around the pitch.

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“It’s quite chaotic, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. But after a while you start to see the moving parts, how the different positions work together,” says Milan Cuthbert, former Aurors manager and member of the Edmonton club’s recreation team. “Once you understand the sport a bit better, you can see the games as they happen and the different movements of the groups versus the chaos of different types of balls flying everywhere.”

The chasers, three from each team, try to throw the quaffle, usually a volleyball, through one of three hoops on the other side of the court to score points. Two other batsmen run around the pitch throwing bludgers, three foam dodgeballs, to the opposite side to force them to drop what they’re doing and run to their side of the pitch.

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Confused? Well, there’s also a keeper for each team, and each player has to hold a broomstick between their legs for the entire game. The stick does nothing and you are not allowed to remove it from between your legs.

Finally, the snitch is released after 18 minutes, a player dressed in a gold outfit with a tennis ball draped from his belt. If a team’s catcher can catch the dangling tennis ball, they score 30 points for their team and end the game.

While Whitby and Cuthbert cite the acceptance and camaraderie of the sport as a major draw, they both quickly drift away, and the club and the sport as a whole, from the source material and the author who gave it to him. gave life.

For the past three years, Rowling has made transphobic comments, comments which she has doubled down on and maintained despite the backlash.

“JK Rowling’s transphobia is detrimental to the quidditch community,” says Cuthbert. “The sport’s association with Harry Potter has also affected the sport’s ability to develop.”

But politics will be put aside for a long summer day at this year’s Summer Solsnitch where a chance to reconnect with old friends is more important than the score on the board. Except when your team grabs the snitch; it’s a big problem.

For more information on the Edmonton Aurors Quidditch Club and Summer Solsnitch, visit edmontonquidditch.com.


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