Quidditch coming down to earth in Portsmouth

Recreation Department will offer Harry Potter-inspired sport starting July 7

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/28/21

PORTSMOUTH — Quidditch may have begun as a fictional sport played between the four Hogwarts house teams in the Harry Potter movie series, but it will be very real when a land-based version …

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Quidditch coming down to earth in Portsmouth

Recreation Department will offer Harry Potter-inspired sport starting July 7

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Quidditch may have begun as a fictional sport played between the four Hogwarts house teams in the Harry Potter movie series, but it will be very real when a land-based version comes to Glen Park starting on July 7.

The Portsmouth Recreation Department is offering the fast-paced sport to ages 7 to 18 on Wednesday nights through Aug. 11. There will be a demonstration day at Glen Park at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6, so everyone can learn the rules. 

Ruthie Wood, a 2019 graduate of Portsmouth High School and the program’s coordinator, said this is the first time a summer quidditch league has been offered on Aquidneck Island.

“I think quidditch has been on the island a couple of times — once in Newport for a college regional tournament, and one time at Louis Escobar’s farm for a Harry Potter Day,” she said.

In the Harry Potter films, quidditch is played in the air since those young wizards can fly. But in 2005, two Middlebury College students in Vermont came up with a version played on land so that mere mortals could also compete.

“And then it really took off, at least for the colleges,” said Ms. Wood, a rising junior at John Hopkins University who is president of the school’s Quidditch Club.

The game is popular with both Harry Potter fans and hardcore athletes who believe "it’s a really intense sport,” she said.

Now we have the U.S. Quidditch Association (USQ) as well as the International Quidditch Association (IQA), the current international governing body of the sport, which has given it an air of legitimacy. “It’s already gaining a lot of traction and is definitely growing in popularity,” she said.

Despite the fact it’s played on the ground, this version of quidditch is actually quite similar to what you see in the Harry Potter films, Ms. Wood said. “It’s sad that we can’t fly, but we do hold ‘brooms’ between our legs — PVC pipe,” she said.

There are usually seven players to a side: Three “Chasers,” two “Beaters,” the “Keeper” and the “Seeker.” The Chasers and the Keeper try to score on and defend the goals — three ring-shaped hoops of differing heights located on each side of the oval-shaped field, which is roughly the size of a soccer field. The goal is to get the “Quaffle” — in this case, a volleyball — through those hoops.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wood said, there’s no “Golden Snitch” in the land version of the game. That’s a small, winged golden ball — about the size of a walnut — whose capture by the Seeker (Harry Potter’s position) virtually guarantees victory.

There are four different age brackets: 7-9, 10-12, 13-15 and 16-18. There will be a 45-minute session for each, with the youngest players starting at 5:15 p.m., the next-oldest group at 6 p.m., the next at 6:45 p.m. and the oldest group at 7:30 p.m. 

The fee is $35 per participant and you can sign up at Portsmouthri.recdesk.com.

“The only thing they’d need to bring is themselves and a pair of sneakers,” said Ms. Wood, who hopes many kids will come out to learn all about the new sport.

“It’s quirky, you make friends really fast, and you’re not limited to any one position. It’s unlike any sport you’ve ever played before. If you haven’t played it, you’re in for such a treat.”

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