Quidditch at UBC

Image via UBC Quidditch
Image via UBC Quidditch

Where nerds and jocks collide

By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer

J. K. Rowling’s fictional broom-and-magic-based sport—made famous in the Harry Potter series—has found a home, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the University of British Columbia. Founded in 2010 and 2014 respectively, the UBC Quidditch Sports Club and its B-team the British Columbia Quidditch Club are two of the largest and most successful quidditch teams in Canada. Both are co-ed and highly social teams, with the UBC quidditch team throwing a fundraising Yule Ball annually, along with organizing other events and Harry Potter fan meetups. The game itself is a much more Muggle version of the fictional sport. Instead of a flying golden ball, the Snitch is a spry individual in a yellow jersey who isn’t hampered by a broom. Aside from mundane changes, however, the rules and layout of the field remain remarkably faithful to the books. And like in the books, it’s extremely competitive.

The UBCQC, which refers to itself as the “University of British Columbia B(etter) Team,” acts as a separate, distinct team from the larger and more popular Quidditch Sports Club. It gathers new players and introduces them to the world of international quidditch, and moves the most improved players on up to the sports club. It competes independently of the sports club as well.

Despite the goofy origin of the sport, the teams and the UBC sports administration take quidditch very seriously. Both teams are funded by sports grants, and UBC Quidditch is supplemented by an IndieGoGo campaign and annual fundraisers. Bi-weekly practice keeps the players sharp on the field. This serious approach allowed the team to qualify for the United States Quidditch Cup in 2015, in which they took third overall in the Northwest Regionals, with their sister team, BCQC, taking fifth. Despite a strong performance, in 2016 UBC Quidditch and the BCQC officially withdrew participation in the USQ for the foreseeable future, for reasons that are “above the club,” per the UBC Quidditch website. Despite this setback, practice continues for both UBC clubs in preparation for a return to the US and for participation in the forming Canadian Quidditch league.

Both teams emphasize a strong social aspect. Their biggest fundraiser is the Yule Ball, a general Harry Potter fan’s party, complete with wizarding decorations and music. Members are encouraged to be a part of the larger quidditch community, and encourage new fans at UBC by running around with brooms on Club Days. Though no longer competing at the big league, the teams have found a niche in British Columbia, and today are a thriving part of the prestigious UBC sports community.