If you want to find a particular variety of gleeful enthusiasm, talk to Harry Potter lovers. And if you want to find a lot of them in one place, go to a quidditch match.
This once-niche sport, created by author J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series, found its real-world home on college campuses. It first surfaced at Middlebury College, and the Obliviators are Oberlin’s own enthusiastic and dedicated team.
Maya Martin, a fourth-year gender, sexuality, and feminist studies major with an education concentration, has played on the team for three years and described the sport as “dodgeball, rugby, and tag put together,” with volleyballs, dodgeballs, and lightweight PVC pipes standing in for the respective quaffles, bludgers, and broomsticks that are used in the books.
Quidditch is definitely a bona fide sport, albeit a more low-key one. Tara Santora, a second-year biology major, has found her skills in jujitsu grappling to be an asset while playing, but said that at Oberlin “we try to say that anyone who wants to play, can play.” People of all athletic abilities are welcomed.
It’s not an ultra-competitive atmosphere that attracts students to quidditch — rather, “it’s the community that draws people in and keeps them here,” says Ilan Davidowitz, a second-year sociology major who was hooked after catching a glimpse of the Oberlin quidditch culture as a prospective student during a recruiting visit. “I decided I wanted to come to Oberlin because of the quidditch team— because of how awesome, down-to-earth, and friendly everyone was.”
Another place Harry Potter-influenced inclusiveness can be found is in the Oberlin Harry Potter Alliance, a club whose membership overlaps quite a bit with the quidditch team. It’s less about sports and more dedicated to hosting events in tribute to Rowling’s magical universe.
The group hosts events such as a Potter-themed room escape, scavenger hunts, bad fanfiction nights, and the Yule Ball, an extremely popular annual event that also features baked goods familiar to many a hard-core Harry Potter nerd — chocolate frogs, rock cakes, Cornelius fudge, and butterbeer.
As a chapter of the national Harry Potter Alliance, which promotes equality, human rights, and literacy through the enthusiasm and intense devotion that the Potter-world inspires, all proceeds from OHPA events are donated to different organizations and causes based on a group vote.
This piece was provided by Oberlin College and edited for style and length.