ARLINGTON, Va. — Fans of the Harry Potter books or movies know the game of Quidditch, but it seems the game has jumped off the big screen and onto local athletic fields.
On Saturday in Arlington, the Washington Admirals were taking on the Boston Night Riders in a three-game Quidditch series. The games were held at the fields by the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
The teams are part of Major League Quidditch (MLQ). The Washington Admirals are in their third season. Erik Morlock is the “keeper” for the Admirals. He said his position is similar to a goalie, but the keeper also plays offense.
The MLQ has 16 coed teams across the United States, including one in Canada. Currently, the league only plays in the summer, but Morlock said that could change.
Quidditch is a sport better understood while observed. It’s very fast paced, very physical and very complicated.
“It’s a really crazy mix of, kind of, basketball and with a little bit of rugby,” said Morlock. “It’s unlike anything else; it’s really unique.”
And, yes, the players are running around carrying a broomstick between their legs.
Melissa Smith, a player for the Admirals, says she’s so used to having the broomstick that it seems unnatural not to have it in her hand. She’s a junior at the University of Maryland where she also plays in a college Quidditch program.
She’s a “beater” and uses a dodge ball to stop the “chasers,” from the other team, from scoring. There are three hoops on each side of the field. Ten points are awarded to the team that gets the deflated volleyball through one of the hoops. Another way to score is getting the ball from the waist band of the so-called “snitch.” The team that gets the ball gets 30 points. But the “snitch” only comes out late into the game.
Morlock said that Quidditch started in Middlebury College in Vermont some 10 years ago and has since then really taken off at college campuses. There are also Quidditch programs at the University of Richmond and the University of Virginia.
“This is a full contact sport, so there will be tackling,” said Erin Mallory, one of the three referees. She admits she grew up as a Harry Potter fan and a sports fanatic, playing soccer and basketball. Mallory found Quidditch when she went to college at the University of Maryland.
“It’s was the perfect meld of my nerdiness and my athletics. And, it kind of grew while I was in school. So, it was very cool to be part of the growing phase of it.”
Morlock said he can see the sport moving into the professional level, “especially once people see what it’s about.”
“I think a lot of people come in with connotations of Quidditch as a bunch of nerds running around on brooms.” said Morlock. “To be fair, there is a fair amount of that. But no, it is a very legitimate sport.”
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