Think basketball but with three hoops instead of one.
Think rugby, but there is one quaffle (scoring ball) and three bludgers (dodgeballs).
Think football but no pads, just your cleats and a mouthguard.
Duck under the balls flying at you, pass the ball around and try to score, but don’t forget the PVC pipe between your legs, don’t drop that. It’s your broom, but, contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t make you fly.
“The first five minutes, chaotic,” third-year Donny Segarra said of his first practice with the team. “I didn’t know anything that was going on. We ran a few drills [and it was] pretty fun.”
There are two main positions, chasers and beaters, otherwise known as the offense and defense. The three chasers try to put the quaffle past the opposing keeper and shoot for one of the three hoops – ten points each score. The beaters have the bludgers and look to knock out the chasers before they can score.
If you get hit with a bludger, you have to “debroom,” or dismount, and run back to tag your side’s hoops. Coach Dustin Minnick said it took him almost a whole semester to be able to run with the broom consistently.
Don’t forget about the seekers. They look to capture the snitch – a fast and nimble player not on either team with what appears to be a sock with a ball in it velcroed to the back of their shorts. If you get the snitch, it’s 30 points for your team, and the match is over. Whoever has the most points when the snitch is caught, wins.
Three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker round out a seven-player lineup with roster spots up to 21. The teams play 20 minutes before the snitch is released and the opportunity for a conclusion opens.
The terms may seem familiar, reminding you of fantasy books about the wizarding world – the sport began as Quidditch but has since become known as Quadball.
“I love the community that it draws,” club president Sarah Malone said. “Just because we’re all here to have fun and with the broom between your legs, it kind of makes it light and open to making a fool of yourself sometimes.”
The game was founded in 2005 at Middlebury College by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. The pair was looking for something different to fill their Sunday activities.
While unpacking balls and brooms before practice, Minnick explained that he always has trouble describing how much love he has for the sport.
“It’s just been fun for me the entire time,” Minnick said. “I don’t think there is any other club sport that is co-ed in nature, that is competitive against other colleges. I think that brings such a unique appeal to it … You will see people that are barely 5’ trying to tackle people that are like 6’5 and almost 300 pounds, it’s amazing.”
According to its Benny Link biography, the club is open to students of any gender orientation and participates in tournaments against colleges all over the country – including one that senior Helen Trudell is planning.
“It’s in Hartford City, it’s at Blackford Youth Soccer Complex,” Trudell said. “It will be from 8 a.m. until dark probably … So far we have Mizzou, Miami (OH), Ball State, Columbia of Chicago, Michigan and Michigan State – I am waiting to hear from Minnesota, Marquette, Kansas, Bowling Green and Purdue.”
Outside of coaching duties, Minnick can be found around campus wearing a bright red shirt that reads “Ask me about quidditch” on the back. Malone said spreading the word has been a key pillar in the club’s growth.
“Obviously when you walk into this, it is pretty intimidating because it’s a lot going on to the eye, but once you get to know people, it becomes a big community and a fun thing to do,” Malone said.
Practice begins with two short laps around the turf soccer field at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and dynamic stretching in the midst of playful chatter.
When players see others walk through the door and light up with a smile, that’s what truly sets Quadball apart. The self-described goofball attitude and, as Trudell recalls her first interaction with the club as a “Hey we play quidditch, come sit with us” form of inclusivity.
“I feel like it has such a wide variety of people,” Malone said. “Here we have band kids, we have people who did sports in the past and we have people who have never done sports in the past, so it’s just a big combination of people coming together … I just love seeing the people and seeing a new team grow.”
Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @daniel_kehn.