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Burb's Eye View: Fictional game can result in real bruises

January 22, 2013|By Bryan Mahoney
(Courtesy of Bryan…)

Chris Chavez cranks his arm back while palming a deflated volleyball. His other hand grips a broomstick positioned between his legs. He eyes his target: a 39-inch rubber hoop mounted to some PVC pipe. Before releasing his ball, he has to maneuver around his brother, Alex, a former Burroughs High football player armed with a deflated dodgeball.

Alex is “riding” a four-iron.

A quick jog around his brother and Chris is free. His target is wide open, but Mary Beshenich comes at him in a half-sprint, half-trot as she uses her legs to keep her own broomstick in place. She slams into Chris and knocks him off course, forcing him to rein in his arm to clear himself for a better shot.

Again, she checks him. It’s a hard hit, but Chris’ feet are planted. Mary keeps the pressure on with a few more hits. He shoves her away equally as hard.

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It may sound harsh, but this is Quidditch, a co-ed full-contact sport with no pads and no holds barred.

“I think [women] take advantage of it,” said Kate Tucci, a player on the Hollywood Harpies, the largest club in Los Angeles. “I’ll just body-check you and score.”

The strategy works, especially when playing men who are Quidditch rookies.

“I never thought I’d hit a girl, but a couple games in and they didn’t care,” said Alex, a former tackle at Burroughs High School.

He and the other three players met Monday morning at Whitnall Highway Park South for a quick practice and some drills. Chris is trying to start a team that would encompass Burbank and North Hollywood. He met Mary and Kate while playing for the Harpies.

“I feel we could get a couple more teams around here,” Chris said. “I’m trying to start this team, but right now it’s just me.”

Players usually discover Quidditch in one of two ways: They’re fans of the Harry Potter franchise in which it originated, or they played more traditional sports in high school or college and take up Quidditch in the off-season.

Often, it makes for a playfully volatile dynamic between people like Kate who love J.K. Rowling’s books and movies, and those like Alex who wanted to play something besides football.

“Even though I’d be there for half the touchdowns I never got credit,” he said. As a Quidditch chaser, “you have the ball, the points, in your hand. I’d get the ball and go for it.”

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