Quality Quidditch and…Cookies?
Alicia Radford started her own Quidditch team in 2008, and has been volunteering for the International Quidditch Association ever since. Today, she serves as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, bringing the magic and mayhem of Quidditch to the muggle world.
“Not quite as popular as the Sweet Sixteen, but it’s growing in popularity. The game of quidditch from the Harry Potter novels has leapt from the pages and is sweeping across the Muggle world—or the real world, to you and me.”
It was 7:00am and I was sitting in my pajamas as CBS sports anchor Greg Gumbel turned it over to a reporter who was standing in the snow surrounded by Middlebury and Amherst quidditch players. Watching college students run around with brooms between their legs on national television was a big turning point in my life. It was April 2008; I was a freshman in college. I started a team at the University of Washington and brought them to the second annual Quidditch World Cup in Middlebury, Vermont. We competed against eleven other schools. A year ago, when I graduated from college, I moved across the country to New York without a job or place to live to follow my dream of making the IQA a successful organization. The 2011 World Cup hosted 94 teams, and I’m now the IQA’s Chief Operating Officer.
I really love Chinese food. That might seem like a non-sequitor, but bear with me. My favorite part of eating Chinese food is the fortune cookie. There’s nothing like the sense of anticipation breaking the cookie in half, wondering if the fortune will be commonplace or profound. And of course there’s the superstition that unless you eat the cookie before reading it the fortune won’t come true. Maybe because I’m a Harry Potter fan I enjoy indulging in superstition. But, I want to share my two favorite fortunes with you. IQA CEO Alex Benepe got the first one: “Nothing happens without first a dream.” I got the second one. “There is but one cause of failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true self.” These two fortunes espouse the life philosophy I try to live by, and the philosophy that I think the Harry Potter books champion.
We live in a remarkable time in history. Throughout the western world, girls have been growing up with the assumption that they can do whatever they want with their lives. We can follow our own dreams. Two of my biggest role models as a girl were J.K. Rowling and Hermione. As an aspiring writer, I knew that J.K Rowling got rejected dozens of times before her manuscript was accepted by Bloomsbury. She never gave up on her dream. And she had enough faith in herself to believe in her idea, even when no one else did. As women we can so often get caught up worrying about what others think, and measuring our success with the yardsticks of others. I know I fall into that trap sometimes. But we’ve got to learn to trust ourselves, and believe in ourselves—like J.K Rowling did. She gave us another positive example in Hermione. Hermione never let the denunciations of “Muggle born” or “Mudblood” shake her faith in herself. Hermione was smart, capable, and determined. And she saved the world!
I know this is something we hear a lot, from motivational speakers, movies, and apparently fortune cookies. But don’t let the frequency of the message dilute its power. Whether your dream is starting a quidditch league, publishing a book, or becoming the cleverest witch in your year, follow it. And believe in yourself.