A sports game brings fiction to life in Queensbury
QUEENSBURY — Jenkinsville Park in Queensbury was home to an unusual athletic contest on Sunday.
The inaugural Wizard Fest featured games of real-life Quidditch from “Harry Potter,” known as Quadball.
There were also vendors selling “Harry Potter” themed products such as non-alcoholic Butterbeer.
The event was organized by the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and CVB.
Gina Mintzer, executive director of the chamber, said officials wanted to create a new event that occurs between the car show in Lake George and this week’s Adirondack Balloon Festival, to help maintain momentum that drives tourism during this time of year.
Four out-of-town college teams competed against each other in the games.
“It’s the Muggle version of Quidditch,” the captain of the Cornell University team, Margo Treadwell explained.
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“Obviously, we can’t fly, but we adapt the best we can.”
The game was created at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005.
Prior to the competition, kids got to compete in a younger-age version of the game, called Kidditch.
While it was a friendly competition, the intensity of the game was no less fervent compared to other games such as rugby or football.
In fact, if it weren’t for the PVC pipes between the players’ legs to emulate the broomsticks, it would have looked like a strange amalgamation of dodgeball, tag and lacrosse.
According to Treadwell, the game is really a combination of rugby, European handball and dodgeball.
Despite stemming from a fantasy series, the game is fast-paced and very physical.
“If you get hit by a dodgeball, you have to do a full sprint back to your hoops,” Treadwell said.
The dodgeball is supposed to emulate what’s known as the Bludger, which, in the books, is a magical iron ball that flies around the field and attempts to knock the players off their broomsticks.
The fictional teams have Beaters who are tasked with defending their teammates from the Bludgers, while a volleyball known as the Quaffle is used to score by throwing it through one of three hoops.
What was most surprising about how well the four teams were able to bring the fictional game to life was how they imitated the Golden Snitch.
In the books, the Snitch is a tiny golden ball with wings that flies around the pitch and is close to impossible to catch.
“The Golden Snitch is a man that comes out at the end of the game with very funny pants, and wears a tail,” Treadwell said.
Players have to catch him and grab what is a sock hanging from the back of his pants with a ball inside it.
“That part of the game turns into wrestling,” the captain said.
Treadwell is a junior at Cornell and is into her third year playing the game.
Vassar College went up against RPI in the inaugural Wizard Fest. RPI won with a final score of 235-10.
The other competing colleges were Cornell and the University of Rochester.
The Vassar College and RPI teams compete in year-round tournaments.
While the game is directly connected to “Harry Potter,” Treadwell said that half of her team is not crazy about the fantasy series.
“It’s a very competitive game, and there’s a lot going on,” she said.
The name of the game was recently changed to Quadball from Quidditch for licensing reasons, and to also to not alienate players who may be interested in the game, but not so much “Harry Potter.”
“It’s been wonderful to get to know the kids and the sport, as well as the parents and the grandparents who came out to watch them compete,” Mintzer said.
Drew Wardle is a reporter for The Post-Star. You can contact him at 518-681-7343 or email him at [email protected]