Quidditch tournament coming to North Myrtle Beach

03/30/2014 12:00 AM

03/29/2014 3:30 PM

Quidditch has not yet gotten in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but the word sounds just as it looks, and anyone who wants to see this growing global sport has a world championship to take in Saturday-Sunday near North Myrtle Beach.

The International Quidditch Association will have its World Cup VII at the brand new North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, 150 Citizens Circle, Little River, just north of the city, accessed from S.C. 90 and Robert Edge Parkway.

Speaking last week by phone after his commuter train ride home from New York, Nick Candido, public relations manager for the association, a nonprofit formed in 2010, said 80 teams – and more than 1,600 players – will turn out to play this co-ed, contact sport this weekend on the north Strand, after advancing through regional championship tournaments around the world. A look at the schedule shows teams from such schools as Ball State, Boston, Louisiana State, Marquette, Michigan State, Ohio State, San Jose State, Texas A&M and the universities of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Based on the game from the “Harry Potter” series, quidditch blends parts of rugby, basketball and dodgeball, with teams of seven people who keep a broom between their legs at all times on the field as three chasers, who try to score with a quaffle, or ball, through any of three hoops, or goals. On defense, a team has two beaters who use bludgers, or dodgeballs, to take an opposing player out of play. Each team also has a hoops minder, and a seeker who tries to catch the snitch, a ball carried by a neutral player who tries to avert capture at any cost.

Candido stressed the sport’s all-inclusive nature as well as its growth market potential, and spreading its exposure to newcomers and walk-on players.

Question | Is there any sport that quidditch most resembles?

Answer | I find the sport to be a perfect balance of rugby and handball.

Q. | When did the sport hit the ground running, and where was its birthplace?

A. | The birthplace of quidditch would definitely be Middlebury College, in Vermont. ... It was only about eight years ago. Now it’s played in more than 300 universities and communities around the world.

Q. | What demographics has this game scored with the most? Young adults?

A. | Absolutely. Our largest marketing age group is 18 to 23, but there are community teams on the rise. The majority are people who have played other sports in college and graduated.

Q. | With statistics showing lacrosse and ice hockey as the only high school sports drawing more participants each year, might quidditch ever enter the picture among prep athletics or is this a better fit for college athletics?

A. | When we reach out to middle schools and high schools, sometimes we adapt the contact rules to be less physical. Quidditch is a very physically demanding game. So we’ve reached out; there was an exhibition high school division at the World Cup last year, so this is on the drawing board. I have taught two summer camps where all we did was quidditch for one day a week. It’s definitely gaining popularity.

Q. | Besides the opening of North Myrtle Beach’s new sports complex, what else helped the Grand Strand land this tournament?

A. | There were multiple venues that we were looking into. ... While it was very enticing to have the tournament in Kissimmee, Fla., where we had it last year, the prospect of going to a new athletic complex that’s premiering with this World Cup is something we couldn’t pass up.

Q. | What hooked you on to this sport?

A. | Back when I was in college ... I signed up for the gun club, the outdoor club, and rock climbing ... but then I found quidditch, and that was the only club I stayed with and played in all four years. After that first practice, I knew I was going to be there for the rest of it.

Q. | Does the co-ed component make quidditch easier to market?

A. | It’s easier to marker in every regard. ... It’s not only possible for full-fledged athletes, but for someone who’s never tried it before. ... Anyone, of all shapes and sizes, can play this game. Guys play against girls; it’s meant to be all-inclusive.

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