I had never led something before. This was the first time that people were looking at me, and I had to be in charge. That will help in the classroom, and it was the first step out of my comfort zone.
It was just a few weeks into her first semester at Fitchburg State when Laurie Furtado ‘22 learned from her resident advisor that the university had a Quidditch club.
“I was obsessed with Harry Potter,” she said. “We were excited to build the club.”
Fans of the book and film series featuring the boy wizard know that Quidditch is a sport played by magic folk, with players on opposing teams soaring on brooms in massive stadiums. Author J.K. Rowling’s expanded universe of Potter lore included a companion guide to the sport which noted the successful American franchise the Fitchburg Finches. The name was an obvious one to adopt for Fitchburg State’s club team.
Quidditch is actually quite popular on college campuses, offering the somewhat comical sight of players running with brooms between their legs, trying to avoid being struck by Bludgers (typically dodgeballs) as they try to score points by throwing the Quaffle (usually a volleyball) through one of three scoring rings. Late in the game, additional points can be scored by catching the Golden Snitch, which in the non-magical version of the game is a yellow-clad player carrying a tennis ball in a sock in their pocket.
Fitchburg State’s club was running before Furtado arrived, but she was among the players who took to the university quad in fall 2018 to scrimmage against Harvard University’s accomplished Quidditch club.
“I knew it was going to be bad when they showed up with mouthguards,” Furtado recalled. “You could tell they did all the drills, and had strategy. It was hysterical, playing an Ivy League school in a made up sport. We got creamed.”
As it did to so many grand plans, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the Finches’ forward motion. Now with just a handful of members who have not been able to play in-person matches, Furtado said the club is looking for an underclassman who can take on leadership after she graduates this May with her degree in special education.
Furtado was involved in many clubs and activities during her time at Fitchburg State, including the Dance Club, the Education Club, the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi, and working as a tour guide for Admissions, among others. Starting with Quidditch was a great opportunity, she said.
“As intimidating as it was freshman year to try to join things, it was nice to have something small,” she said, even as her responsibilities grew when she was elected the club’s president. “I had never led something before. This was the first time that people were looking at me, and I had to be in charge. That will help in the classroom, and it was the first step out of my comfort zone.”
While the university chapter of the Finches didn’t enjoy the heralded success of Rowling’s imagined team, Furtado relishes her experience.
“It was nice to meet people, whether you bonded over Harry Potter or just taking part in something that is genuinely silly,” she said. “I can’t wait to tell my kids someday that I was on a Quidditch team.”
This story was originally published in the Spring 2022 edition of Contact magazine.