Magical Game

Quidditch takes root at Community High in Roanoke. 

Photo courtesy of Community High School

In a case of fact following fiction, students from Roanoke’s Community High regularly compete in quidditch, a sport invented for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Since no one can actually fly on broomsticks, the live game makes a few minor adjustments to J.K. Rowling’s version.

“The funniest thing to someone who hasn’t seen it played before is that their brooms are actually just sticks,” says the private high school’s administrative director Meg Snow. “They use PVC pipes. The kids build all their own equipment, including the goals and things like that. They have a broom that they have to ride as if they are really flying. They have one hand on the broom at all times and throw the ball with the other hand, so it’s kind of a handicap.”

Quidditch is a mixed-gender, full-contact sport combining elements of rugby, basketball and dodgeball. Each team has three “chasers” who score 10-point goals each time they throw a ball called the quaffle through one of three hoops at their opponent’s end of the field, where a keeper is stationed to block them. Further hindering the chasers are two “beaters” who throw balls called bludgers at opponents to temporarily knock them out of the game. Once hit by a bludger, a player must run back and touch their own hoops before resuming play. Each team also has a “seeker” whose job is to catch the “snitch,” a tennis ball in a sock attached to the waistband of “the snitch runner.” The snitch runner doesn’t belong to either team and is the only person unencumbered by a broom. Capturing the snitch is worth 30 points and ends the game. 

“A lot of the same things that kids get from playing other sports,” says Snow, “they can get out of being part of the quidditch team—teamwork, communication, leadership. The team is student run. The kids devote a lot of time to it; they take it very seriously, even though it’s fun and silly by nature. When new students join the team in the fall, older students take on the mantle of leadership in teaching them how to play. The students are the coaches, basically.”

The Community High Dragons mostly practice and scrimmage against each other on fields at or near the school. But a couple of times a year they travel to play matches against adult or college teams such as the Virginia Tech Phoenixes or in exhibition games hosted by festivals. Spectators are welcome. CommunityHigh.net


This article originally appeared in our October 2018 issue.

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