This is not your wizard’s Quidditch.
Yes, players run with brooms wedged between their legs (wearing Spandex, of course, to prevent “bristle burn”). But in Muggle Quidditch, feet remain rooted firmly on the ground, and the snitch – that pesky winged golden sphere – is just a small ball velcroed to the waistband of the snitch runner.
As chaser for the first United States national Quidditch team, Kedzie Teller has the following bragging rights: he’s one of the top 21 Quidditch players in the country. He competed alongside the Olympic Torch Relay. He’s basically a real-life James Potter, minus that detail about fathering The Boy Who Lived.
Quidditch first manifested as a Muggle sport at Middlebury College in Vermont, the birthplace of the intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup in 2007. Now, 824 teams exist in the U.S. alone.
Although Teller brought home a gold medal from the Olympic Quidditch Expo Tournament in Oxford, England, this summer, he bemoans the reality that many perceive the sport as “a bunch of goofballs with brooms” chucking balls into trash cans. But to Teller and his teammates, the broom compares to a tennis racket on the court or a baseball bat on the diamond. It defines the sport.
Graduated from: Boston University, degree in journalism
Based in: Boston, Mass.
Years playing Quidditch: 4
Position: I’m one of three chasers. We rack up points, which means we manipulate the quaffle – which looks like a volleyball – to score on one of three hoops. It’s a full-contact sport.
Did the Harry Potter series spark your interest in the sport? I’ve read all the books and seen all the [Harry Potter] movies, but I can’t call myself a Potterhead. I’ve never been to a midnight release.
So why Quidditch? I was recruited to Boston University for track, but after my first year on the team, decided it wasn’t for me. I’m very competitive, and needed to get involved in another sport. When I saw a Quidditch match at the Boston Commons, my friends and I decided to go to a practice. Then I started playing, and took on a leadership role [as team captain for two years]. People knew me as “the Quidditch kid.”
Ratio of Potterheads to competitive athletes on your college team: The beauty of the sport is that it attracts a spectrum of people. On one side of the gamut, you have Harry Potter-obsessed people living their dream. Then, there’s the really intense athletes. It’s nice to have a chance to see those two types intermingle.
How did you learn to run with a broom between your legs? It’s funny watching it for the first time, and it’s always awkward. In the beginning, I got sidelined a lot because I thought I had more dignity than holding onto the broom. But then it becomes second nature, like riding a bike.
Have you sustained any serious injuries from Quidditch? I sprained my ankle at a regional tournament last spring, but that’s about it. There are lots of cuts and bruises among amateurs who don’t know how to use brooms, but the most common injury during games is concussions from people hitting heads.
I imagine you don’t use household brooms. The ones we use are made specially for Quidditch. The most commonly used broom in today’s game is called a Shadow Chaser, though many teams also use Scarlet Falcons. I have one of each, and I don’t differentiate between matches and practice. You’ll see PVC pipe homemade brooms in many tournaments, since they are cheap to make.
Do you play Quidditch daily? After the Olympic tournament this summer, I’ve been in a lull. Sometimes, I help out my college team; I’d love for them to gain club sport status, since it’s still considered a social club. But my main priority is planning for Boston Massacre, a community Quidditch team that I’m launching in May. Right now, I’m building the buzz for that, as well as working with the International Quidditch Association (IQA) to hold an international tournament in April 2013.
How do you pay the bills? I’m an information risk specialist at MassMutual Financial Group. But I’m tapping my fingers, waiting for the day to end so that I can play Quidditch.
Does your health insurance cover Quidditch-related injuries? [Laughs.] I’m on a good program that helps me cover the expense of a few injuries per year. [Mass Mutual] is super supportive; I actually went through the hiring process while I was overseas competing in the Olympics Quidditch tournament.
Some Quidditch teams wear capes. What does your uniform include? Our team [at Boston University] nixed the capes about four years ago. Now, they look like soccer uniforms – knee-high red socks, black shorts, white jerseys, whatever cleats we can find. Our jerseys for Team USA [see right] are made by Quiyk.
Best part of your position on the U.S. national team: Knowing that we’re building the foundation for something bigger – that we’re building a future generation of Quidditch players. Sports programs are reaching out to local Quidditch teams to run training sessions in elementary schools called Kidditch.
Most challenging part of the position: The reactions from people who don’t understand Quidditch. I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember, so to be part of a sport that other athletes look down upon – that’s not great for the ego. It’s also hard not getting the support we need. To many universities, we’re just goofballs with brooms asking for field space. They don’t think we deserve it, so we end up playing on a patch of grass behind a building.
Do your parents understand your passion for the sport? My mom didn’t at first, but she is one of my biggest supporters now. My dad almost broke into tears when he found out I made the national team; he knew how much it meant to me. The second I got picked for the team, I updated my Facebook status, and it got 400-something likes within four days. If I could relive any moment, it would be finding out I made the team.
Your Twitter must-follows: I follow the IQA religiously for Quidditch news; Serena Williams, since tennis is my other great passion in life; and The Boston Globe and The New York Times, since I’m a news junkie.
LAUNCHING YOUR CAREER >> Don’t be shy about reaching out to the IQA. You don’t need to know a lot about Quidditch to get involved. And don’t let people decide things for you. If I had listened to everyone around me, I would not be playing Quidditch right now.
Next: Odd jobs at the Olympics