Boise’s latest major-league sports team made its debut last weekend at Ann Morrison Park against division rivals, the Salt Lake City Hive.
The players ran the field, passed the ball and tackled each other to the ground during the two-game matchup. And they did it all while riding ‘brooms,’ PVC pipes painted to match their uniforms. They play quidditch, a co-ed sport adapted from the fictional world of Harry Potter.
From the sidelines, Frank Ross watched his daughter Anna take the field. This is the second game Ross has attended.
“We were surprised when we came out how good of a job they did at turning this movie sport into what really is a real sport,” Ross says. Contrary to the stereotype, he adds, the game is very athletic.
“It can be pretty rough at times. I actually think it’s pretty exciting,” Ross says.
Quidditch began at Middlebury College, where a few Potter-heads devised rules to adapt the game for real-life. The game has since gone worldwide: more than 500 teams play in 26 countries around the world. Major League Quidditch includes 16 teams in the U.S. and Canada.
The league decided to relocate a franchise from Phoenix to Boise earlier this year because because the city already had a strong quidditch community. In 2016, Boise State’s team, the Abraxtons, ranked seventh in the U.S.
It’s Stewart Driflot’s sixth year playing quidditch. He is one of many players on the Grays who played for Boise State’s team.
Driflot says he picked the game up because it sounded more fun than ultimate frisbee.
“I don’t remember the last time my teammates watched a Harry Potter movie. But you have to run around on a broomstick,” Driflot says. “You have to be a little weird to play. But every sport has its handicap. The broomstick is ours.”
As quidditch has gained popularity, it’s also gotten more athletic. Many players on the field are big—muscular and more than 6-feet tall. They look like they could play college football. In fact, many of them did.
Estefani De La Rosa, who kept score at the game on Saturday, says that athleticism is the only way the sport can continue to grow.
“If people continue to bring true athletes into this sport, the sport is going to develop into something that’s a lot more competitive,” she says. “[Athletes] are going to stop thinking of it as a Harry Potter nerdy thing and start thinking of it more as a competitive sport where they can come out here and show people what they’ve got.”
For now, the Grays will continue to work on their roster. Only nine players could make it to the game on Saturday, compared with 23 fielded by the Hive. The Grays played a close first game, but lost steam in the second––they lost 160-60. Their next game will be on July 14 in San Jose.
For more local news, follow Will Reid on Twitter @WillR56
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