Hufflepuff's Andrea Landis, 17 watches as Gryffindor's Hannah Sneller, 16 reaches to deflect the "quaffle" from going through the hoops on Jan. 23, 2010, during a Quidditch match at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Corvallis, Ore. (AP Photo/ Corvallis Gazette-Times, Jesse Skoubo)
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Anyone passing by the baseball diamonds at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Sunday morning may have spotted some unusual sights - particularly a group of young people running with brooms in hand and throwing soccer balls through hula hoops mounted to the diamond's fence.
"Excuse me," said Al Blase, who was walking with his two dogs through the park. "Can I ask what's going on?"
"They're playing Quidditch," said Katie Myers, a French teacher at Crescent Valley High School and advisor for the school's Harry Potter Club.
Blase had stumbled upon the club's first Quidditch match, based on a popular sport in the "Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling.
In the seven-book series, two teams with seven players compete in a soccer-like game while riding flying broomsticks.
Three players called Chasers attempt to score points by throwing a soccer ball-like Quaffle through their opponent's hoops, while a Keeper guards the goal. Two other players - Beaters - try to knock individuals on the opponent's team off their broomsticks using bats and Bludgers, which are like bowling balls. The seventh player, Seeker, competes with the opponent's Seeker to find the Golden Snitch, a walnut-sized ball that flies, first.
When a team's Seeker finds the Golden Snitch, the game ends and that team is awarded an additional 150 points, helping them win the game.
In the series, Harry Potter is Seeker for the Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
With no magic, the students improvised. Because only 13 students were present at the start first game, they combined houses to make teams: Gryffindor and Slytherin faced off against Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.
"I'm in Slytherin," said Laurel Reid, 16, one of the club's presidents who wore a green t-shirt, the house's official color, while she played Chaser in the first game.
Instead of two Beaters, only one student took the position. They also used soccer balls as Quaffles and attached hula hoops to the baseball diamond's fence to serve as the goal.
The biggest difference?
Instead of using a palm-sized ball, one student served as the Golden Snitch each game, running throughout the entire park in a gold cape with a glove attached. When one of the Seekers finally caught up after 20 minutes of running, he or she would have to pull the glove from the cape in order to end the game and receive the points.
The Gryffindor-Slytherin group won the first game; the students wondered aloud what to call the hybrid team.
"It's Glytherin!" one shouted, and the others agreed.
"This is all student run," Myers said as the students began to play the first game.
Though Sunday's match was the students' first attempt at Quidditch, the 35-member club also hosts other Harry Potter-themed activities, including a recent wand-making party. Some club members even found recipes for a few of the book's refreshments - including butterbeer and pumpkin juice - to bring to meetings.
Karina Azaryan, 16, missed the first two games because she was busy talking via Skype with her parents in Ukraine. An exchange student, Karina was excited to join the club, because there's nothing of the sort at her home school.
"My friends (in Ukraine) were so jealous," she said.
She was ready to jump in for the third game.
"Who wants to take a break?" Myers asked the group, gasping for breath after running for approximately 20 minutes. One handed Karina a broom as the group discussed how to reorganize the positions.
Moments later, they were all on the field again.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.