When it comes to the annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup, only one sport reigns supreme at Chestnut Hill College
On a cold, windy and wet day in late October thousands came to the College from around the globe to experience the fun, the enjoyment and what some might call the overall spectacle that is the game of Quidditch. That’s right, Quidditch.
Popularized by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, which continues to captivate and inspire generation after generation of readers, the muggle version of the sport was first introduced in 2005 by Middlebury College. Soon after, Chestnut Hill College, an early adopter of the rapidly growing sport thanks to Max Kaplan ’11, held its first tournament. Now, seven years later, the College continues to host the annual event, which has grown exponentially.
What started out as just a few students playing a game for fun has turned into a global phenomenon as all across the world, people were abuzz with talk of the Harry Potter festival, a joint effort between the town of Chestnut Hill and the College. Now in its fifth year, the daylong event full of Potter-themed activities for all ages, brought somewhere from 35,000 to 50,000 visitors to Chestnut Hill, the largest turnout the town had ever seen.
Many of these visitors boarded the Knight Bus and traveled to their beloved Hogwarts, aka Chestnut Hill College, to see the magical game of Quidditch being played in front of their very eyes and join in other activities. A fictional game no more, the crowd mirrored the players’ enthusiasm. For many of these students, this is their sport.
“Chestnut Hill College has a pretty solid athletic tradition and background,” says Elena Ramos ’16, CHC’s Quidditch team captain and president of the Quidditch Board. “But for one day of the year, it’s not about them. It’s about Quidditch and all of the passionate people from all of these schools and club teams that play it.”
Playing in front of a larger crowd than any of the College’s other sports have ever played for, the CHC Griffins put forth a valiant effort in their attempt to win their second cup since 2014. This year, however, that honor went to the Philadelphia Honey Badgers, a returning club team, which took on newcomer Pitt in the championship match.
“The teams that came out are all so passionate about the game and they appreciate, like I think fans of the sport do, that this isn’t a game played on TV or at tailgates,” Ramos says. “We extend our congratulations to the Honey Badgers on a day well fought and a cup well earned.”
While the 10 participating teams were on the pitches, with brooms up, trying to score points and catch the “snitch,” represented by a yellow-clad individual whose objective is to win the cat and mouse game with the seeker, other members of the College community, namely the student clubs and activities, were hosting a mini carnival of sorts on the Summerhouse lawn.
Among these clubs selling goods and running children’s activities, were the Chemistry Club, which sold homemade potions, the Harry Potter Alliance, which led a scavenger hunt and Feel Good, which sold their signature grilled cheese sandwiches. And of course, there was butter beer, which was sold by the women’s softball team. The team had purchased more than 50 bottles of cream soda to make this crowd favorite, a mix of the soda and butterscotch. They sold out before the day was half over.
Staff, faculty and student volunteers from the College manned the merchandise tents with their never-ending lines. It seemed that everyone wanted memorabilia from scarfs to t-shirts to broom pens, to commemorate the day, which as College President Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., says, has become for many members of the College community, a sort of homecoming on the hill.
“Harry Potter Weekend has become a positive and synergistic tradition for the College as a result of the collaboration of faculty, staff, students and alumni with the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Woodmere Art Museum, and our neighbors,” said Sister Carol in an email after the event. “Together we have created a memorable experience for huge numbers of guests who join us in Chestnut Hill for a very special Saturday in October.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14
Click here to see more photos from the 7th Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup!