ROUND ROCK – Quidditch may once have been nothing more than a magical game in a book written for children and young adults. Today, however, the game introduced in author J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series of books is a worldwide sensation.
Last weekend, more than 3,000 people attended the U.S. Quidditch Cup championship tournament in Round Rock. Over two days, 83 teams from around the United States battled each other in the 12th U.S. Quidditch Cup at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.
Sarah Woolsey, executive director of U.S. Quidditch, said more than 1,700 people participated in the games and an estimated 3,000 and 5,000 people attended.
On Sunday, hundreds of fans, both sitting in the bleachers and scattered around natural and synthetic grass fields, watched and cheered for their favorite teams. Around 200 games were held, two at a time, on Saturday and Sunday spread out across the complex’s ten fields.
“The US Quidditch Cup is one of the most highly anticipated and attended events we host,” said Chad McKenzie, Round Rock sports management and tourism director.
Severe thunderstorms delayed Saturday’s start. A second delay pushed the tournament from its planned 9 a.m. start to a 3 p.m. starting time.
The real life Quidditch game, started by freshman students at Middlebury College in 2005, is a contact sport based on Rowling’s fictional sport of the same name. In the non-fictional version, two teams of seven to 21 players each carry a stick between their legs as they maneuver in a field and attempt to score points by throwing a ball through a hoop. Three hoops on each end of the field act as the goals. A team gains points when a player tosses the ball through any one of the six hoops on the field.
“I would say Quidditch is sport that is a mixture of rugby, dodgeball and basketball,” said 23-year-old Robby Sluss, a player for the Texas Hill Country Heat. Sluss said that the sport has the physicality of rugby, offensive and defense styles based on basketball, and involves the evasion of balls akin to dodgeball.
The group of team members who try to score goals are called chasers. All the while, players called beaters throw balls at the opposing team members. If hit, the player must drop their ball, run to their team’s end of the field and touch their team’s hoops to join back in.
Yet Quidditch is much more than sticks, chasers, and beaters for Olive Jim-Daniels, 20, a player for Texas Quidditch. What she says makes the sport so enticing is the sense of community. “The team that you play with, because you spend so much time together, and those relationships that you form, that’s so powerful,” said Jim-Daniels.