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On Middlebury Quidditch, Harry Potter, and a new movie

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When I woke up on Wednesday morning to a text message from my little brother reading simply, “Harry Potter is pretty legit,” I knew it wouldn’t be long before I caved and saw the latest installment in the movie series. My brother, Will, and I grew up fighting over each newest release in the “Harry Potter” series. Frugal to a fault, we’d purchase just one of the brick-like copies of each new book on the day of its release, only then to squabble incessantly about who had the honor of reading the book first. Inevitably that fell to me — being the speedier reader and more selfish sibling of the two — and then I was left to anxiously check in on Will’s progress. “Where are you? Have you read about _____ yet?”

When author J.K. Rowling finally wrapped up her seven-book triumph, I was more than a little sad. I’d been reading “Harry Potter” since I was 12, when I discovered the series shortly before the U.S. release of the third book in the series. My brother was much smaller then, just 7, and he cried when my mom read him the first book in the series out loud. “Why do the Dursleys have to be so mean to Harry?” Will whimpered, after my mother read the opening scenes of the novel, in which the evil Dursleys lock their poor nephew into a “bedroom” beneath the stairs.

Like most other teenagers in our generation, Will and I never outgrew “Harry Potter.” In fact, for Will, the release of the books typically coincided with his own march through adolescence. By the summer of 2007, when we read the last installment in the series, Harry Potter was 18 — and Will was on the cusp of his 17th birthday. As for me, I was eyeing my college graduation in a year’s time. Just as Harry and Hermione and Ron and my much-loved Neville were saying goodbye to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I too was getting ready to leave school once and for all.

Being devoted Harry Potter fans, Will and I have dutifully marched out to the theaters to screen each film. After the hiccups of the first two films, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the movies. Don’t get me wrong; they don’t hold a candle to being 14 and curling up under my covers with a flashlight and the latest book in the series. But they’re entertaining.

The twist in all of this is that I attended Middlebury College, where, arguably, the only larger Harry Potter fans in my generation also went to school. As a sophomore, I heard rumors of the “Quidditch kids,” freshmen from my old dorm who took to the muddy fields in the fall to run around on brooms. They were dead set on recreating the famous Harry Potter game of broomsticks and flying Snitches and “bludgers” — albeit with brooms snitched from the janitors’ closets, and kick balls, and cloaks fashioned from bedsheets.

It wasn’t my scene.

But the Quidditch kids stuck around, and by the end of my senior year, they’d amassed an army of followers. They started a “Quidditch World Cup,” and Quidditch teams from other colleges descended on our campus for the other event. The “Quidditch commissioner” took his demonstration team on a tour of New England to drum up support for the Intercollegiate Quidditch League. And now, the latest surprise: our Middlebury College Quidditch team has made a guest appearance on an MTV promotion for the film. Check out the video:


Now, I for one was never in on the run-around-with-a-broom-between-my-legs fun; then again, I wasn’t much of a college athlete of any sort, Muggle or magic. But between this, and that midnight-screening-text from my little brother, and a rave review from one of the Addison Independent interns, I can’t help myself: I’ll be seeing the movie this weekend, if I can.

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