Although "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II" is the last of the Harry Potter films, it has found a way to jump out of the pages and off the big screen and connect to its biggest fans. Quidditch, a fictional Wizard sport played in the book and film series, has come to life in Toms River.
“Quidditch is one of the most serious sports,” said Ryan McGilloway, 18, of Toms River and the co-captain of the Toms River Hydras. “You take the best elements from soccer, lacrosse, rugby and then add a dodgeball element to it with full contact and no pads and you have Quidditch.”
Wonder how a fictional sport is transformed into a playable game? Well it’s not too hard to understand. The game is about outscoring your opponent by way of the Chasers throwing the offensive ball (the Quaffle), through a set of three hoops, while the defensive players strike others with the Bludgers to give other players a "knock out effect." If hit by a Bludger, the player must drop whatever ball they are holding and run back to their own set of three hoops before being able to re-enter as a player.
The game only ends when the Seeker retrieves the Golden Snitch, who is a neutral player dressed in all yellow with a flag attached to his pants for the Seekers to try and grab. Catching the Snitch awards your team 30 points and ends the game.
It may seem almost like capture the flag on a human with a few characteristics of other sports, but there is a catch. In the book and movie version, players fly around on brooms. So the real life adaptation of the game is simple — play and run with a broom between your legs.
“When you are playing the game, you simply just don't pay much attention to the broom, it becomes an extension of your body, all you are thinking about is scoring a goal, making a hit, retrieving a bludger, or catching the snitch,” McGilloway said.
In the first tournament, competing together against college and high school teams, the Toms River Hydras took home the High School World Cup in 2010 and are currently ranked 23rd in the world out of 70 teams competing. They have 20 team members, and they compete mostly in the tri-state area.
“Our team is made of people who love both sports and the world of Harry Potter,” McGilloway said. “Quidditch has become much more than a cool sport that Harry Potter fans play, for us, Quidditch is an outstanding and very physical sport to play and have fun with friends.”