Quidditch Cup brings ‘Harry Potter’ to life in Columbia

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Calls of “Mount up!” rang out over the eight “pitches” Saturday at Saluda Shoals Park in Columbia, as quidditch players from across the United States and Canada went broom to broom during the opening day of US Quidditch Cup 9.

The first day of the two-day tournament, which kicked off with an 8:30 a.m. opening ceremony, featured loud cheers as fans urged on the 60 college and community teams that came from as far away as California and even Canada. But it wasn’t just the fans who were having fun on the sidelines. The players got in on the cheering — and heckling — as well.

The Los Angeles Gambits were loud and proud as they showed their support for the Mizzou Quidditch team from Columbia, Mo., in Mizzou’s match against the Fighting Farmers of America from Long Beach, Calif.

But that support from the Los Angles team came at a price.

The Los Angeles Gambits cheer on the Mizzou Quidditch team during Saturday's games. (photo by Brindy McNair)

The Los Angeles Gambits cheer on the Mizzou Quidditch team during Saturday’s opening day of US Quidditch 9. (Photos by Brindy McNair)

“They paid us,” said Gambits co-captain Tony Rodriguez. “It was a perk of our Indiegogo page to earn some money.”

Rodriguez and fellow co-captain Steve DiCarlo led the Gambits through a variety of cheers and chants in support of Mizzou. The perk of having the Gambits cheer for them cost the Missouri squad a $15 donation.

The Gambits created a fundraising page through Indiegogo to raise money for their trip from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C. The team raised nearly $1,000, more than double their goal of $450. This was the second trip to South Carolina for the Gambits; the team also competed in last year’s US Quidditch Cup in Rock Hill.

Rodriguez described himself as a “Harry Potter nerd” and said his love of the popular series drew him to the game, which author J.K. Rowling created as part of the fantasy world in which the “Harry Potter” books and films are set.

Quidditch is a “hyper-competitive mix of rugby and dodge ball,” Rodriquez said, describing a game that surely is not for the meek.

Even without enchanted bludgers, muggle quidditch is a full-contact sport. (photo by Brindy McNair)

Clearly, quidditch is a full-contact sport.

“It’s a full-contact sport,” he said.

But it’s more than the athleticism and competition that keeps him hooked on quidditch, Rodriguez said. It’s the personal bonds he has developed with teammates and fellow competitors.

“I’ve made brothers on this team. It’s not even friends; it’s beyond that,” he said. “We just made ourselves our own family.”

US Quidditch Cup 9 competition continues today, with a champion expected to be crowned late this afternoon. An afterparty, to which players, tournament volunteers and spectators are invited, is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. at the Tin Roof, 1022 Senate St.

Complete information about today’s final day of Quidditch Cup 9 can be found at the US Quidditch Cup website.



Categories: Hometown, Lexington County, Sports