Tag: sports

Quidditch: Not Just for Wizards Anymore


“We have three bludgers instead of two,” says a member of the Johns Hopkins Quidditch team. “That’s pretty much the only other adjustment [from Wizard Quidditch to Muggle Quidditch]. Except for the flying.”

If that paragraph didn’t make any sense to you, then you should put your computer away and go pick up some Harry Potter books. You’re a little behind. For the rest of you:  yes, it’s true, Johns Hopkins has a Quidditch team, and so does the University of Maryland. Yes, plain old muggles like you and me can play. And yes, there are brooms involved.

Muggle Quidditch is something like a combination of rugby, dodgeball, and performance art. The goals are hula hoops; the quaffle is a slightly deflated volleyball; the golden snitch is a person dressed in gold who sprints around and tries not to get caught. As silly as it may sound, quidditch is probably the most popular sport to have been invented in our lifetime. More than two hundred colleges have teams registered with the International Quidditch Association, which was founded in 2007.  Middlebury College’s team has won the Quidditch World Cup for the past four years, which makes them something like the Slytherin of liberal arts colleges.

So if you’re nervous about Potter withdrawal after HP7 Part 2 opens this weekend, never fear – once fall comes around, the Quidditch players will be trotting around campus with their brooms again, and you’re welcome to stop by and cheer them on.

Can a Good Slap Shot Pave the Way to a Good College?


I feel stupidly naïve.  I didn’t understand about the slap shot.  To explain…

We had our meeting last week with Emily’s college counselor at school.  It progressed as we expected… introductions, expectations, process. Emily is our oldest child, so some of this seems new.  Yes, my husband and I both attended college, and even law school after that, but we’ve never been PARENTS to someone applying to college.  Point of view is everything sometimes.  The same experience can feel so different depending on your role in the events.  So, we went to the meeting with an open mind, interested in the advice the college counselor might share.

Emily is a very strong student.  She attends an academically rigorous college preparatory high school, and her peers are very accomplished young women.  When looking at colleges, though, it is hard to know where she will get in, and where she will not be accepted.  One of the tools the college counseling office shares with the students, and their parents, is a software program called Naviance.  This program allows college juniors and seniors to compare their position, and likelihood for acceptance to any given college or university, to the position of graduates of their high school – an “apples to apples” comparison.  These earlier students have taken the same courses from the same teachers with the same standards for grading.  Just as this helps colleges and universities compare the girls, it also helps the girls predict where they will be successful in the application process.

Example:  In 2010, 13 girls from Emily’s school applied to Boston College, and three were admitted.  In 2009, eight girls applied to BC, and two were admitted.  In 2008, six applied and two were admitted.  And so on…  On Naviance, we can see what their SAT scores and GPAs were, and extrapolate what Emily’s chances for admission at that school might be.  

The information about these girls is delivered in a few different formats, and the one I like the best is a graph, called a “scattergram.”  The axes of the graph are GPAs and SAT scores, and the acceptances are charted with a green square, while rejections are marked with a red x.  Our daughter’s point on the graph is marked with a circle, showing where she falls based on her current GPA and first set of SAT scores.  In general, the scores don’t lie.  Kids don’t get into colleges where they can’t succeed.  

But, sometimes there are outliers – green squares representing students whose grades and scores are not in the heat of the commonly accepted students, falling below the averages for acceptance at the school in consideration.  Foolishly, I allowed myself to think that some outliers were getting green squares because of exceptional character, extra-curriculars, leadership qualities, and overall wonderfulness.  But I wasn’t thinking about the slap shot!

So, I asked the college counselor about my “outlier” theory.  Were those other girls from our school whose grades didn’t fit the profile also young leaders, like Emily?  Well-rounded, hard-working girls who would be an asset wherever they landed, even if their grades were not top 5%?  Did she have a chance at the schools where her numbers did not match the averages?  His response, delivered with an apologetic expression hanging on his face, was “No.  Those girls mostly have an amazing slap shot.”  I felt so foolish – I just hadn’t seen it coming.