NORTH AUGUSTA — Beaters bludger chasers, seekers chase golden snitches, and goalkeepers do their best to read the oncoming offensive strategy of the chasers and keep their opponents from scoring. The Quidditch Southern Regional Tournament, a fictional competitive sport from the Harry Potter book series, turned into reality this weekend at Riverview Park.
A total of 13 teams from colleges throughout the southeast composed the entries in the tournament that serves as qualifier for the World Cup in April in Kissimmee, Fla.
The teams were competing for six World Cup spots. The preliminary games were played Saturday, and the teams with the best records returned on Sunday for the bracket play portion of the tournament.
“This region has grown exponentially, and we've actually had to redistribute the regional lines of the region because of the number of teams we have from Florida,” said Lindsay Fussell, International Quidditch Association regional director of the southern region. Fussell played collegiately and was a captain of the University of South Florida quidditch team.
The broomsticks used by the preponderance of the quidditch teams' rosters were made from PVC because if they were to break, they would be relatively inexpensive to replace.
Quidditch is a contact sport. One player sustained a dislocated shoulder and another suffered a concussion during the intense tournament play.
Eric Schnier is the captain of the Florida State University quidditch team, and, when he's not playing, he serves as a referree and is able to make the seamless transition from player to official. The FSU team practices three times a week.
Golden snitches have great stamina because there's a lot of running involved. Mitchell Starr, a member of the Florida State University team, was encouraged by his older brother to join the FSU roster. Starr didn't participate in sports while in high school.
“I was actually an ill kid back in the day,” said Starr. “I lost a lot of weight and started running on my own. I ended up snitching accidently. In one of the tournaments they needed someone to fill in, and I said I would do it.”
Golden snitches aren't limited by what they can do on the field, Starr said.
“Most of the time I use a lot of wrestling techniques to grapple and throw players away from me,” said Starr. “Other players use silly string and things like that to irritate the seekers. I prefer the more physical approach.”
The University of Florida dispatched its longtime nemesis the University of South Florida and was 6-0 in the tournament going into play Sunday afternoon. The team has overcome adversity, improving overtime to be a force on the quidditch pitch, said Zach Thorne, University of Florida player.