Emma Gampper: How was the US Quidditch Association founded?
Sarah Woolsey: Our founders played the sport for the first time in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont, and intercollegiate play was organized through those students for a few years. The organization was started in 2007 and became the nonprofit that we are today.
Gampper: How has the release of new Harry Potter material influenced the interest in Quidditch?
Woolsey: It continues to help give people context for what we are doing and what our sport is. The Harry Potter books and movies are a great stepping stone to understand how Quidditch works in real life, and to provide an opportunity for people to make an immediate connection to it.
Gampper: How was such a high contact sport made to be gender inclusive?
Woolsey: Gender inclusivity was a key priority of the sport from the first time it was played. The Harry Potter series does show the sports as gender integrated, and that's certainly something we wanted to ensure was continued. We are unique as a sport in that we do not operate on the gender binary, and that we allow our athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify, rather than requiring biological sex. It allows us to create an experience that is inclusive and safe for people of all genders to compete together, and to have the opportunities of participating in athletics and as part of a wider community.
Gampper: How has mainstream media reacted to a fictional sport becoming popular?
Woolsey: We tend to get a lot of media coverage of our events! It's definitely a unique sport, and the fact that Quidditch is inspired from the Harry Potter series is a great way for people to connect to Quidditch and for the media to use to understand what we're doing and how to communicate that.
Gampper: Is Quidditch more popular among college-aged students or adults? What is the demographic of the players-do they lean more towards the athletic side of things or not?
Woolsey: It's a mix! Our teams are primarily collegiate, however we do have a growing base of community teams, which are primarily composed of recent graduates. In terms of athleticism, that is again a mix. We have members who grew up playing sports their whole lives, and we have people who had never been athletes before that try the sport. The great thing about Quidditch is that there is a place for everyone in the sport, and opportunities for people at all levels of athleticism to find a way to participate and fall in love with it.
Gampper: How does the Association plan to make Quidditch more popular so that more people are aware of it and show interest in it?
Woolsey: We have a lot of initiatives focused on growing the sport and increasing awareness of Quidditch. We work at our events to make sure the communities in which we host tournaments know what's going on and how they can come see the sport - it's hard to see a game of Quidditch being played and not fall in love with it. We work with people who are interested in starting teams to give them resources and contacts to continue to grow.
Gampper: How did you first find out and get involved with the USQ?
Woolsey: I started playing Quidditch when I was in college - a friend of mine told me about my university's team and said that they thought I'd love it. They were right! I started volunteering for the league in college, and was able to transition to an employee role after I graduated.
Gampper: How do you think Quidditch has impacted the Harry Potter series as a whole?
Woolsey: The connection between Quidditch and Harry Potter provides a great way for people to stay connected to the series if they would like - fan works are constantly evolving and growing and Quidditch is an opportunity to engage in that. At the same time, we have a lot of players and fans who didn't come to the sport through Harry Potter and do see them as separate. It's a neat interaction and demonstrates how different people can experience Quidditch in different ways.