Street: Can you tell us a little about the Penn Quidditch team to start out?
Tage Das: We're a lot more of a casual team just because it’s often hard to get people to come to practices just because everyone’s got work. We're a walk–on team, all levels included. We practice every Saturday on High Rise Field every Saturday from 2–4 p.m. We have our own equipment, we use PVC pipes for brooms, and we also made hoops out of a hula hoop and other PVC pipe sections. There are some more serious teams, a Philadelphia team called the Honey Badgers. They’re a lot more competitive and they’re actual adults and grad students. We try to—just try to take it easy and have fun.
Street: Are you a big Harry Potter Person, is that what led you to join the team?
TD: I personally am. A lot of people who are on the team or who are just involved in Quidditch aren’t just because a lot of people are athletes and when you come to bigger schools, you’re not good enough to be on the school basketball team or the school soccer team so they do things like ultimate frisbee, or intramural soccer or in our case, Quidditch. But I personally am a huge fan and usually the people who start teams are huge fans.
Street: If we’re talking Harry Potter, what house do you think you would be in?
TD: I would definitely be a Ravenclaw, I’m a mechanical engineer.
Street: If you could pick a character that you feel like you most identify with, what character would it be?
TD: Okay, the first answer that comes to mind is Hermione, because I was always kind of that kid in school that nobody would be raising their hand and the teacher wouldn’t want to call on, because I raised my hand for everything so they want to get somebody else. I also really vibe with Luna’s [eccentricity], just super strange but she doesn’t care what other people think. That’s why I’m playing a sport where I’m running around with a broom between my legs, wearing bright colors, throwing balls at people, because what I care is about something that means something and has fun and if it looks funny then who cares.
Street: Do you guys do anything Harry Potter themed beyond Quidditch? Any parties or Harry Potter–themed BYOs?
TD: Yeah, we occasionally have parties and BYOs in which we’ll watch the movies or we’ll play board games. One of our things, well a lot of people do this, but as a mechanical engineer I have access to the rapid prototyping lab where you can 3D print and laser cut stuff so I made Quidditch hoops for Quidditch pong, I built those, so we play that a lot.
Street: Quidditch pong?
TD: Yeah, it’s basically just beer pong, we usually use Sprite or water because we’re not that hardcore a group, but then you have to bounce it through the hoops and also into the cups, so, like, it’s just more fun, it’s a little bit harder. A bunch of us saw Fantastic Beasts together and then just in general we’re a nerdy group so I think we’re going to try to see Rogue One together. It’s a small enough group that we know everyone pretty well.
Street: How many people are there?
TD: The snitch is a person. They usually dress in all gold or at least just the gold shorts and they have like–usually, it’s kind of like flag football. They have like a flag with a tennis ball dangling from the back. It’s kind of funny–looking. So they just sort of run around on the field. The seekers are on brooms, they have to try to get around them because the snitch is in the back. The rules used to be a lot looser a few years ago. You could literally just leave the pit and run around the city or run around campus. And then the game would just be proceeding from there. But now we don’t do that, now we just stay on the pit. The snitch is a person. They can just sort of push people around. It’s a lot of fun. That literally happens. A few years ago, I think someone was like–the very very beginning when the rules weren’t sort of ironed out–no one could really expect that the snitch would be like, 'Well, if no one’s saying I can’t leave the field, I’m gonna.' And then they literally just got on the subway, went to center city, got ice cream and then that was it.
Street: Fuck, marry, kill: Hogwarts professors.
TD: Fuck Lupin, I mean—he’d definitely be a freak in the sheets. Um, marry… I’d want to marry one of the smarter professors ‘cause that’s what I think… McGonagall. That’s someone I’d definitely spend my life with. And then kill… I mean I think the obvious choice, the most hated professor is Umbridge.
Street: Is there anything we forgot to ask you?
TD: There’s one thing I do want to talk about which is like a big thing for USQ which is the United States Quidditch League. We don’t enforce it as much at Penn and Drexel because we don’t really have to. We have a pretty even team. We do have something called Title 9 and ¾ which is about gender inclusivity. So the rule is that you can’t have more than four people on the same team who identify as the same gender. And that’s completely–not forcing any gender definitions. So it’s what you identify as. So if you identify as male or as a guy, then that’s what you go as. If you identify as neither, then that’s what you go as. So it’s just a good way to make sure that the teams can be gender–balanced but then are also as inclusive as we can be for people who don’t want to identify as either or who have other definitions. So that’s something that we’re really proud of, the inclusivity.