AUBURNDALE, Fla. — Got your broomstick handy? No, just for sweeping, for Quidditch!
Yes, you read that correctly. The real-life sport inspired by J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels is bigger than ever.
- U.S. Quidditch held South Regional Championship in Auburndale this weekend
- Now 150 official Quidditch teams across U.S.
- Sport welcoming to all players
- More Polk County stories
U.S. Quidditch held its South Regional Championship at the Lake Myrtle Sports Park in Auburndale this weekend.
Five Florida schools, including USF, FSU, and UF, had teams representing at the tournament.
“A lot of people hear 'Quidditch' and they think it's a little 'Harry Potter' club. It’s actually a serious sport,” said Aria Delmar, who plays on FSU’s team.
It’s so serious that there are now 150 official Quidditch teams across the country.
U.S. Quidditch Executive Director Sarah Woolsey says it’s not all about wizards and broomsticks.
“It’s a mix of a lot of traditional sports that you know and love," Woolsey explained. "There are elements of basketball, lacrosse, rugby, dodgeball, football, and tag all at once. One of the things about Quidditch is it’s impossible to be bored while watching a game."
How do people play?
Of course, players don’t actually fly around like they do in the books and movies. However, one of the things that makes the sport unique is that players have to have am broomstick with them at all times.
Various types of balls are used as players try to score in various hoops. And just like in the books, a highlight of the game is when the “snitch” comes out.
In real-life Quidditch, the "snitch" is actually a player. That player runs around with a ball strapped to his or her waist like a tail.
The object is to get that tail.
Secret to success
Though it’s competitive, one of the things that makes the sport successful is that it’s welcoming to any player.
“If you’re running around with a PVC pipe between your legs and calling it a 'broom,' you have to have a sense of humor," explained Orlando player Guntis Rutins. "So that generally means you have nice people and are welcoming."
The official league started in 2005 and continues to grow. There are several non-collegiate teams as well as unofficial ones across the country.
Teams that competed at the South Regional Championship this weekend will go on to compete in a national tournament in Texas in April.
The league says they bid out their tournaments each year and will consider Polk County again.