'Harry Potter' quidditch game taken seriously at UC Berkeley

BERKELEY, Calif. -- A sport played with magic in the world of Harry Potter is casting its spell over the Bay Area in a big way. On Saturday morning, kids can learn how to play "quidditch" at Balboa Park in San Francisco. But this sport isn't just for small children; it's one that they can play all the way through college.

While it's played high in the sky in the "Harry Potter" movies, the version for muggles (non-magic folk) takes place on the ground. It's a sort of combination of rugby and dodgeball.

"In the books you're flying on a broom," said Cal Quidditch Co-Captain Connor Hughes. "So obviously we can't do that, which is extremely unfortunate."

Forrest Stone coaches quidditch for kids in San Francisco. He explains that you have to be mounted on the broom at all times to be considered in play.

"You have kids that come in with wands and they think, 'oh, it's a Harry Potter club!' But by the end of it they have cleats on," he said.

Making goals while riding brooms is hardly child's play. It's become a serious sport that's played by a serious team at UC Berkeley.

"It's gotten way more intense than it was in the beginning," said Hughes.

The college version is full-contact and co-ed.

And Cal Quidditch just learned they've made it into the national tournament.
"It's awesome," said Hughes. "In a lot of ways, it's like March Madness."

UC Berkeley has a growing culture of new and non-traditional sports. eSports are becoming a big deal, and now they've been recognized by the university as a club sport.

"And now we can finally say that we are the Cal team, and it's so satisfying to do," said Cal eSports President Kevin Ponn.

Administrators say they're proud to be broadening Cal's official sports offerings

In the meantime, the team is forging new traditions.

"We're playing Stanford at the Big Sweep, which echoes the Big Game," said Hughes.
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