Photo by Jay Paul
A Quidditch game between UR and U.VA. teams in October
Quidditch is flying off the pages of Harry Potter and riding its broomsticks into Henrico County’s Dorey Park, where the increasingly popular sport’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships will take place Nov. 1 and 2.
Fans of the boy wizard should have no trouble figuring out what is going on, although many elements of the airborne fictional sport have been adapted for play on the ground by the sport’s governing body, US Quidditch.
As in the books, each team has one seeker attempting to end the game by locating and grabbing the “snitch,” while three chasers score points with the “quaffle” (a volleyball), one keeper defends the hoops, and two beaters use the “bludgers” (dodgeballs) to thwart the offense. After 18 minutes of game play, referees release the snitch — which, in perhaps the largest departure from J.K. Rowling’s creation, is a tennis ball in a sock Velcroed to the shorts of a neutral player who strives to avoid capture (in the books, the snitch is a small golden ball that can fly).
Quidditch is a contact sport, with co-ed players tackling each other, all while clutching a broom between their legs. If that sounds dangerous, Casey Schmidt, University of Richmond’s team president, confirms it. “I’ve torn a bunch of ligaments in my ankle, I’ve burst a sack in my knee, I’ve broken my collarbone,” she says. “Oh, and I’ve also had a concussion.”
There are more than 300 official teams worldwide. It is primarily a college sport — Virginia Commonwealth University also has a team — but RVA Quidditch is one of a growing number of community teams.
Teams that place high enough at Dorey Park will compete in the sport’s World Cup in the spring. Last year, teams from UR and the University of Virginia represented Virginia at the World Cup.
Lutz plays quidditch for UR.