You may know it as a fictional sport from J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter books. You may even be familiar with the rules of the game. But did you know it’s an actual sport that people actually play?
“The best way I can describe Quidditch is it’s rugby mixed with dodgeball mixed with handball,” said Jillian Staniec, the president of the Central Alberta Quidditch Club.
For those who may not know, the game of Quidditch is a sport that is played in the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. The game features two teams of players who fly around on broomsticks and attempt to score points by putting a ball through one of three giant golden hoops on either side of the field.
The rules of real-life Quidditch are adapted from that game, although with a few minor variations due to the obvious limitation that people can’t actually fly on broomsticks.
Each team is made up of three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker.
There are two ways to score points in Quidditch. The first is for the chasers to get the main ball, called the Quaffle, and put it through one of the opposing team’s hoops. The keeper’s job is to defend the hoops. Each time a chaser manages to put the Quaffle through one of the hoops, their team scores 10 points.
There are also two players on each team called beaters. Their job is to use dodgeballs (called bludgers) to hit opposing players. If a player is hit with a dodgeball, they are out of play until they go and touch one of their own hoops.
The last piece of the puzzle are the seekers, who are tasked with catching a ball called the Golden Snitch. This part of the game is a tricky one to describe. In the books, the Snitch is a small ball made of gold that flies around the field on its own wings. In reality, the role of the Snitch is played by a person. This person wears yellow and has a tennis ball in a sock dangling out of the back of their pants. The seeker’s job is to chase this person down and grab the tennis ball. Whichever team’s seeker accomplishes this scores 30 points for their team.
To complicate matters further, all of the players on the field (besides the Snitch) have to hold a small replica broomstick between their legs at all times, essentially making it a one-handed game. On top of that, the adult game is also played full-contact.
There are a number of opportunities in Central Alberta for people to get involved in the sport. The Central Alberta Quidditch Club offers programs for athletes of all ages.
“For our kids’ program we go eight to 15 right now. In the spring we’d like to split that into eight to13 and 13-18 so that we can do no contact Kidditch and low contact youth Quidditch. Our adult program right now is 18 plus,” Staniec said, adding the Club does want to get a high school program started in the near future.
The Club’s season runs through spring and fall for the younger age groups. The adult program runs year-round.
“We generally do eight-week programs for the kids in fall and spring.”
They also have some space at the Collicutt Centre that they have been using to run adult drop-in programs, so anyone wishing to join in can pay the regular drop-in rate to participate.
There are also currently two competitive travel teams in the province. The Alberta Clippers, who compete out of Edmonton and Red Deer and the Calgary Muggles.
The Clippers recently won a tournament in Calgary. “We won a giant bear. It was kind of awesome. It was the Octo-bear,” Staniec laughed.
“There’s a lot of nice, fun, silly things like that but at the same time, again, that was a full contact, serious tournament,” she added.
She also said the group is hoping to expand their competitive stream to include a team based in Red Deer.
According to Staniec, the sport can get very competitive at the highest level.
“It is a very competitive sport. People train in the gym, they train three or four time a week to play and reach their peak performance.”
Quidditch isn’t just for Harry Potter fans, she said.
“I find that it’s for anyone who is kind of bored with modern sports.”
Staniec said with so much happening on the field at once, it’s very hard for anyone to get bored with the game.
Anyone wanting to get involved with the Quidditch program in Central Alberta can follow the program on facebook or Twitter or email them at CentralAlbertaQuidditch@gmail.com.