Friday, December 30, 2016

College Essay

I submitted the following essay for the Common Application. I applied early decision to Williams College in western Massachusetts and I found out last weekend I was admitted. That's where I will be for the next four years and I am very excited to start the next chapter in my life. As far as I know, Williams does not have a quidditch team right now. I picked Williams for its intimate community, small class sizes, academic opportunities and picturesque setting. I would love to start a team but I just don't know yet if it is possible. Next fall will be overwhelming and only time will tell. For now, I wanted to share this essay as a thank you to the sport and the community. 

When I first found out about real-life quidditch in sixth grade, I naturally had a lot of questions. How did the golden snitch work? Did they have flying broomsticks? I remembered reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in kindergarten. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had frightened me, but I had liked quidditch, the high-flying magical game in the wizarding world.

I was always an avid sports fan, rooting for my hometown Philadelphia teams and delighting in a wide range of more obscure sports every four years during the Olympics. But quidditch? I dusted off my hard copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, only intending to re-read the quidditch chapter. I ended up racing through the first book and I jumped into the second. And the third. And so on.

Equipped with my newfound love of Harry Potter and my insatiable curiosity about real-life quidditch, I persuaded my parents to take me to the Quidditch World Cup in New York City. The wizarding world was only two hours away on the New Jersey Turnpike. On a crisp November morning, my dad and I boarded a BoltBus. It wasn’t quite the Hogwarts Express, but it delivered me to a small park along the Hudson River bursting at the seams with energy.

The sights and sounds of the Quidditch World Cup reverberated from a small corner of Hell's Kitchen in an exuberant and chaotic celebration of a young sport. Forty-six teams and hundreds of players sported homemade jerseys, painted with names like Potter and Dumbledore across the back and numbers like pi and infinity. Commentators blended improv comedy with play-by-play. Snitches, neutral players dressed from head to toe in bright yellow, evaded capture by climbing chain-link fences and darting into Manhattan street traffic. I settled into a plastic folding chair beside one of the four oval pitches, watching match after match and deciphering the labyrinthine rules of the game.

At that point, I was only a twelve-year-old spectator, but I sensed an infectious passion around this new, progressive, co-ed sport with roots in the wizarding world and children’s literature. I looked out at an intricate game with multiple balls and positions coming together in a masterpiece of teamwork and strategy. Beyond anything else, I wanted to share quidditch with others. I wanted quidditch to be accepted and celebrated as a spectator sport, not some forgotten, short-lived fad of the so-called Harry Potter generation.

In the six years since that day, I have thrown myself into a world of quaffles, bludgers, snitches and broomsticks. I have written a blog called The QuidKid with more than 110,000 views, organized three full-fledged college quidditch tournaments in my hometown and directed media relations for the semi-pro Major League Quidditch. At subsequent Quidditch World Cups, I have coordinated an editorial team of twenty or more twenty-somethings to write pages and pages of website content. I am not a quidditch player, nor a quidditch coach. I market the sport. I defend, preach and champion quidditch.

Throughout all the years, I have felt incredible support and encouragement from the quidditch community. Hundreds of college-aged individuals have looked at me, some kid from the Philadelphia suburbs, as a smart and eloquent writer, a capable and dynamic leader and a thoughtful and funny person. I have learned to engage with something bigger than my own bubble of a school or town. And every day, I have pressed on with my sometimes quixotic mission to bring a whimsical, fringe sport to football fans and bookworms alike.

So, how does the golden snitch work? Why do they hold broomsticks between their legs? Who are the best teams and players in the country? And do the players really fly? I would be thrilled to talk to you about quidditch and maybe, if I can really convey the liveliness and spirit of the sport, I will see you at the next big game.

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