Quidditch Midwest Regional Championship comes to Nevada

Austin Harrington, Special to the Journal
Teams race down the playing field in a competitive game of quidditch during the U.S. Quidditch Midwest Regional Championships held in Nevada this past weekend.

Players from across the country rode into Nevada on broomsticks last weekend to take part in the U.S. Quidditch Midwest Regional Championships, a sport popularized by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The event ran from Saturday to Sunday and was hosted by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau and Nevada Parks and Recreation. This year’s regional matches featured teams from Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The game is described as a fast-paced, gender-integrated, full-contact sport, and as a cross between basketball, soccer and dodgeball.

In the books and films, Quidditch players ride upon high-flying broomsticks in a chaotic display of wizardry; however, in real-life Quidditch teams are made up seven mixed-gender players that include three “chasers” who try to score by kicking or throwing a “quaffle,” represented by a volleyball, through three hoops at each end of the field and two “beaters” who use dodgeballs, or “bludgers,” to disrupt players as they try to score. Each team also has a goalkeeper and a “seeker,” who attempts to grab the “snitch,” a small yellow ball attached to a neutral player who tries to avoid capture at all costs. All players are required to carry a broom between their legs as they run up and down the field of play.

Tucker Borel, a 22 year-old senior from Kansas University, said that he’s been playing the game for a few years now but was introduced to the sport by a friend and not by the books like many players were.

“My lab partner my sophomore year was like ‘hey you should try out for quidditch,’ and I came out once and was hooked instantly. It was so goofy and weird but at the same time so physical and it was just a blast and I loved it,” Borel said.

According to Borel, he likes the movies but wouldn’t consider himself a super fan of Harry Potter series since he hasn’t read the books that the movies were based on.

“In the beginning it was a lot more book-oriented - like they used to run around with capes, the rules were a little different but it’s definitely grown into a more physical (game),” Borel said. “It’s a legitimate athletic sport. If you’re not athletic, you’re definitely not going to be as good as the other people.”

Borel said that is a common misconception about the sport. Just because it was based on a fantasy sport from a fictional series, many people think that it will be just something to laugh at. Borel said that changes when they actually see a game.

“When you tell someone you play quidditch, they’re just like ‘what, is that that Harry Potter thing?’ So you have to explain to them no, it’s full contact, it’s like rugby mixed with basketball,” Borel said. “Then when people see it, you kind of see their eyes open.”

Mary Kimball, the U.S. Quidditch events director from Seattle, said that having the Midwest Regional Championship in Nevada has been a great for the sport and for the community.

“This is pretty great for us on a random Saturday in November when it’s pretty cold,” Kimball said.

According to Kimball, many people often show up to watch the games, but few have an idea of what to expect when they get there.

“The funny thing about quidditch is that in the air it seems very chaotic but once you put it on the ground and you use our rules, it’s really a wonderful mix of so many different sports that you’ve seen. So it’s really something that you should come to watch a match if you want to fully appreciate it,” Kimball said.