Virginia is quickly becoming a destination for niche sports of all types. Sports such as Quidditch, Spikeball, Disc Golf and FootGolf just to name a few that are hosted in the wide variety of state-of-the-art venues spread across the Commonwealth. One thing is certain: Virginia likes to host niche sports.
The most popular sport among wizards and witches, Quidditch is quickly becoming quite popular with people as well. Based on the fictional game from the book "Harry Potter", Quidditch is a fast paced 7v7 contact sport that was created in 2005 and is now played in more than 39 countries. Mounted on broom handles, players compete in a game on a field the size of a hockey rink with five balls in play. A quaffle, a volleyball used to score points, three hit bars called bludgers, are used to temporarily knock out other players, and a tennis ball, the snitch, that must be caught to end the game.
In July 2019, Glover Park in Henrico County hosted the Pan-American Quidditch Games in which more than 100 athletes from North, Central, South America and the Caribbean took part. Glover Park consists of 4 illuminated multi-purpose artificial grass pitches, 8 sand volleyball courts and a pavilion area with toilets. Along with hosting quidditch, the facility has hosted soccer, ultimate, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer, and more.
Like normal golf in many ways other than the fact that players use a Frisbee "disc" to negotiate an 18-hole course. The goal of Disc Golf is to get from each tee to the hole in as few strokes as possible. The courses are usually very different from each other and consist of many obstacles which makes the game very challenging.
In 2019, Spotsylvania hosted the United States Women's Disc Golf Championships on three different courses, including Cannon Ridge, Hawk Hollow and Loriella Park. These courses present numerous challenges and are highly regarded by recreational players, professional participants and everyone in between. Check out this article of 21 Disc Golf Courses in Virginia, which range from open courses along the coastal plains to the tough elevation changes in the Virginia mountains.
While the game Ultimate has been around for quite some time, it has recently started to gain traction. What sets the Ultimate apart from most sports is the fact that it focuses on self-reliance regardless of the level of competition. Like football, the sport requires a high level of stamina along with the ability to pass through the air. Played between two teams of seven players on a rectangular field with an end zone resembling football at each end. The object of the game is to pass the disc to a teammate who is standing or running in the end zone. However, unlike football, you cannot run with the disc in your hand, but you must pass it on to another teammate to work the disc on the field to the opponent's end zone.
Although Ultimate tournaments have been hosted throughout Virginia, one facility that recently put itself on the map for hosting ultimate tournaments is the Smith River Sports Complex (SRSC) in Martinsville. SRSC recently hosted the Oak Creek Invite College Ultimate Tournament in 2020. Located on more than 90 acres, SRSC has a combination of 6 synthetic turf and grass pitches, along with a pavilion with restrooms and a concession building. This facility is also used for many different sports such as soccer, lacrosse, soccer and hockey.
When golf meets football, we end with the fast-growing sport of FootGolf. The game is played with a regular sized soccer ball and is very similar to rules of golf, the aim of the game is to get the ball into the 21-inch hole with as few strokes as possible. FootGolf became an official sport in the United States in 2011. Like golf, foot golf is a precision sport that requires players to learn how to roll the ball and navigate the different terrain of each course.
Virginia has quite a few courses that have started offering foot golf. Most recently, the Winton Farm Golf Course was used as a championship course at the 2019 State Games of America. Surrounded by mountains and with a lake on the course, you can expect beautiful scenery while playing 18 holes of FootGolf.
Played in a 2v2 format, Spikeball is a responsive net sport inspired by the concepts of volleyball. Although it was founded in 1989, the sport was largely dormant until its revival in 2008. The sport is often highlighted on the SportsCenter and House of Highlights social media channels for its propensity to produce incredible acrobatic plays.
Spikeball held their 2019 national championship event in Chesterfield at the River City Sportsplex. With 12 synthetic turf pitches, the 115-acre complex is one of the largest collection of illuminated synthetic turf pitches in the country with the ability to host sports such as soccer, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and more. The facility also offers a concession stand and vendors' village, making it ideal for hosting large events.