ORLANDO, Fla. - The game of Quidditch, which involves players using broomsticks, is best known as the official sport in the fictional Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling, but it's a game that quickly went from the movie screens to fields around the world.
Players earn points by throwing a volleyball through one of three hoops while trying to avoid being hit by a dodgeball or tackled. They also have to catch an opponent player called the "snitch." In the movie, a snitch is a flying golden ball, but in real life, it's a bit different.
"The snitch is not an actual ball that flies around. It's a person wearing snitch shorts. It's like a flag football aspect. You have to catch the tail," said Kelly Hazell, one of the captains of the Quidditch team at the University of Central Florida.
Alexander Dokuchaev, who is also a captain on the university's team, joined three years ago, and knows the game well.
"After 17 minutes, the snitch is released and the snitch usually is like a big wrestler type person," Dokuchaev said. "Each team has one seeker who's going to attempt to catch the snitch and the wrestler will, like, throw them to the ground."
The University of Central Florida is one of dozens of schools around the country that has a team, but instead of using brooms, they hold onto PVC pipes.
UCF has competed at both regional and national levels. The team recently played against members of Orlando pride.
So why has it become so popular?
"It's one of the only co-ed sports, first of all, so that peaks an interest, as well as it has just so many different elements to it -- so much going on at once," Hazell said.
"It's so unique that there's three different games going on at once," Dokuchaev said. "You have beaters throwing dodgeballs, you have chasers trying to score, you have the snitch-on-pitch game play going on."
In order to make it easier for the players, some rules were modified by the U.S. Quidditch Association.
"We all go by their rules, so, for instance, like one of the main things, is that beaters from the Harry Potter books, they use a bat. We do not use a bat," Hazell said.
Once the snitch is caught, the team earns 30 points and the game is over.
The game has become so popular that other countries, including Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Canada and Germany all have leagues of their own.
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