By Kier Junos
Mounted on a broomstick, the player runs upfield, poised to throw the ball they call the quaffle through the hoop-post for another 10 points. But the beaters are quick with their defence, flanking their competitor like wildcats on a rabbit.
“Bludger! Bludger!” yells a sidelined player in desperation, pointing out the red balls hoisted high in the beaters’ hands, aimed at their prey. It’s too late.
In the original version of the sport being played last weekend at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, that bludger would have dropped that player off their broom and crashing into the field. But in this real-life adaptation of Quidditch, the game from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, it merely caused a turnover.
The Western regional championships for the real-life adaptation of Quidditch, the wizarding world’s favourite sport, were held at Abbotsford Senior Secondary turf field on the weekend, featuring teams from Vancouver, Alberta, Victoria, Burnaby and Calgary.
Quidditch players try to throw a quaffle, which is a volleyball, through any one of three hoops on poles on either side of the field for 10 points a goal. The game ends after either team captures the golden snitch — which in the movies, is an evasive, walnut-sized ball with wings. Harry Potter’s first game saw him fly at incredible speeds around the pitch, capturing the snitch after a dramatic dogfight.
The real-life version of the snitch is a person with a sock-wrapped tennis ball hanging from the back of their waistband, wrestling with seekers in a full-field game of keep-away.
David Saient-Germaine from the Vancouver Vipertooths, said the sport allows you “to come as you are,” and includes provisions for the number of people on field with the same gender.
Saient-Germaine said many athletes are now coming to the sport and becoming Potter fans.
“It’s not just Harry Potter to us,” said Fraser Duff from the Alberta Clippers.
Abbotsford resident Benedict Reiners used to be the first captain for the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Marauders, who placed second to the Alberta Clippers. Since he had to commute to SFU, Reiners – who has since retired his broom – wanted to be part of a community and he found that in Quidditch.
“It’s a sport that’s open to everyone,” said Reiners. “We’ve got those people who have never played the sport before or read books before.”
The Clippers celebrated their championship like any other sports team, but Quidditch is still a fringe sport.
Some teams did crowdfunding campaigns just to get to the western regionals. Some university teams aren’t allowed to use their campus fields to practice yet. The University of Victoria (UVic) Valkyries still practice on the lawn in front of their library.
The Vipertooths, Valkyries, Marauders, Clippers and Calgary Mudbloods played in a full single round robin over two days followed by a championship final between the Marauders and Clippers.
They beat SFU for first place, 60-40, earning the Clippers their second consecutive western championship.
The Clippers now advance to the national championship in Kingston, Ont. this April.