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The Pitt News

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People sit inside of Redhawk Coffee on Meyran Avenue.
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Pitt Quadball Club brings inclusivity, wizardry to Oakland

Jeremy+Kohn+looks+to+steal+the+Quadball+during+a+match+against+Pitt+on+Saturday+morning+outside+the+Pitt+Sports+Dome.
Jermaine Sykes | Contributing Editor
Jeremy Kohn looks to steal the Quadball during a match against Pitt on Saturday morning outside the Pitt Sports Dome.

Whether a devoted “Potterhead,” or only vaguely familiar with the franchise, many are aware of the fictional sport Quidditch. Originating from the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, Quidditch is a high-stakes game that is played on broomsticks. The immense popularity of the series has inspired the sport to be adapted and played in colleges and universities across the country — which is now known among them as Quadball. 

To Pitt junior computer science major Jim Karas, who is also co-vice president of Pitt’s Quadball Club team, Quadball has differentiated from its origin.

“I feel like it’s definitely transcended for me,” Karas said. “It was ‘Harry Potter’ that influenced me. Yeah, because I was familiar with it. But we ended up pulling in people — you know, like your friends hear that you play Quadball, and they’re like, I want to come play Quadball [too].”

Jim Karas tackles a Penn State player during a match against Pitt on Saturday morning outside the Pitt Sports Dome. (Alex Jurkuta | Staff Photographer)

Since 2005, the sport has expanded to nearly 40 countries and has become an intergender sport.

Due to the obvious lack of flying broomsticks, major modifications were made to the rules spelled out in the series. At the collegiate level, a volleyball serves as the Quadball, which is advanced by three chasers to the goal hoops. The keeper defends the hoops but can also act as a fourth chaser at any point. A team is awarded 10 points if they send the Quadball through one of three goal hoops. 

Two beaters use dodgeballs to “knock out” other players. If hit by the dodgeball, these players must tag their goal before resuming play. After the 20-minute mark, a flag runner — who is a neutral party — with the flag attached to their back comes out. One seeker from each team tries to get the flag off the flag runner. The first to gain the flag is awarded 35 points for their team. 

Quadball is physically intense, as it combines elements across many sports. Chasers must be adept at catching and throwing the Quadball, but they are also permitted to kick the ball, meaning at any time it can turn into a game of soccer. The flag runner is allowed to fight against seekers trying to tackle them for the flag. Similarly to rugby, while fighting one another for the Quadball, players may receive a yellow card for physical play. 

The Panthers hosted Penn State and Case Western’s Quadball teams this past weekend at the Three Rivers Throw Down. Penn State and Pitt played first. While Pitt took a more strategic approach, Penn State was more aggressive, leading to its 130-105 victory. Pitt ultimately lost both games to Penn State, but won both games against Case Western and had flag catches in all four games. 

Since the notoriety of quadball largely comes from “Harry Potter,” some spectators of the tournament donned merchandise like gold cloaks as an homage to the flag runner or House merch, such as Gryffindor. 

While some players join the Pitt Quadball Club due to their passion for “Harry Potter,” other members of the self-proclaimed “sexiest club sports team” joined the club without knowing much about the franchise. 

“We have players who have never watched the movies or read the books,” Karas said. “But they got into it because of other people on the team or they just happened to find it at the activity fair, and just became involved in the sport outside of its influence of ‘Harry Potter.’” 

Quadball used to be known as Quidditch and had the original names from the series for the different positions and balls. For example, the flag runner was called the Seeker, the flag was the Golden Snitch, the Quadball was the Quaffle and the dodgeballs were the Bludgers. The rebranding of the game came after author J.K. Rowling faced controversy for her transphobic comments online. Many organizations, such as Major League Quadball and the Pitt Quadball Club, renamed itself to disaffiliate from Rowling.

Delaney Lindberg holds up the flag after a successful capture during a match against Penn State on Saturday morning outside the Pitt Sports Dome. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

To senior communications major Delaney Lindberg, captain of the Pitt Quadball Club, this has allowed Quadball to evolve into a more inclusive and transcendent environment. 

“There’s definitely been a bit of a transcendence from the ‘Harry Potter’ realm,” Lindberg said. “Starting with the name change. Part of that is with some negative associations with J.K. Rowling. And there’s also just different variations in terms of how the sport is played. I mean, obviously, you can’t fly.” 

Another major part of the inclusivity of Quadball comes from its “gender maximum rule.” Quadball is a cross-gender contact sport. There cannot be more than four players of the same gender on the field at the same time. Lindberg shared that this is one of her favorite parts of the game.

“In this sport [the gender maximum rule] has been one of the most important things for me,” Lindberg said. “Being able to remove that barrier and have dependence and trust in an athletic competition where you have full dependence across genders where the male players on this team trust the non-male players and vice versa. That is a super important thing to me that I very rarely see in athletics in general, and I think that has been the biggest life lesson for me — prioritizing that inclusivity and being able to put all of that together with one another.”

Lindberg likes the intergender nature of the sport.

“My favorite part about this sport is that I can be respectfully tackled by 250-pound men,” Lindberg said. “And I can tackle them, too.”

While the notion of a sport built from flying brooms and magic may seem silly to some at first, Quadball is athletically challenging and requires its players to be skilled in all its aspects. It has distinctive inclusivity to all genders and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Quadball also has the opportunity for leadership development and life balance according to junior nursing major Kevin Oh. The co-vice president of the Pitt Quadball Club spoke on the lessons the sport has given him. 

“I’d learned to take it easy,” Oh said. “I’m learning the balance of enjoying myself, and still being able to lead the team at the same time. And something I tell all the players on the team just to throw the ball because I feel like that’s just the essence of the sport.”

About the Contributor
Grace McNally, Staff Writer