Quadball: Changing the game for all athletes
Brandeis Quadball is changing the narrative of contact sports and is creating a space for all people to find a community of welcoming peers.
Entering a new sport can be nerve wracking: You don’t really know your teammates, you might not know the rules of the sport, and you may have never played a sport in your entire life. Quadball, formerly known as Qudditch, is creating an environment where all prospective athletes can find a community that values them no matter their background. Quadball is one of a handful of contact club sports at Brandeis and competes against universities in the greater Boston area.
The Justice spoke with Captain Vidisha Jha ’23 about her time spent on the team, as well as the welcoming environment her and her teammates are creating for all new players. Jha’s pride surrounding the team was evident in her interview with the Justice, and for good reason. As said above, sports can be a daunting arena to enter. Jha and the Brandeis Quadball team are finding ways to break this stereotype and foster a fun and safe contact sport environment, not to mention the fact that the team is pretty good too.
Quadball underwent a rebranding process after J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series, tweeted various transphobic comments. For example, in June 2020, Rowling response to an op-ed piece which used the phrase “people who menstruate,” tweeting “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” These discouraging comments only continued after fans of the series condemned the author. Trying to separate themselves from Rowling, the U.S. Quadball association decided to rename the sport from Quidditch to Quadball, dawning a new era for the sport.
The name change wasn’t the only difference. There have also been a few rule changes to the game as well. One of the most notable changes is the flag runner. In the original format, the golden snitch would be released, and whatever team captured the snitch would win the game. From an outsider's perspective, the snitch didn’t make a lot of sense. The flag runner is released at the 20 minute mark of the game with a ball attached to their wrist-band. The seeker from each team tries to catch the flag runner and retrieve the ball. Instead of ending the game, the ball only counts for 35 points. This helps to keep the game more competitive and exciting.
Jha, a beater for the team, recounted her hesitations about joining a contact sport with limited athletic experience. However, Jha is now mentoring new players and teaching them the ropes of contact athletics.
“Joining the quadball team has made me confident tackling and being tackled and just going into that aggression, safely of course, that I would not have found anywhere else because the community was so supportive,” she said.
Quadball has developed into a sport of its own, and it has cut messages surrounding magic or fantasy and established itself with a sport-focused mentality. Beginning in 2005, Quadball now is played in close to 40 countries with more than 600 teams competing. In the summer of 2023, the International Quadball Association will be holding their World Cup in Richmond, Virginia. The sport has grown exponentially, and the community has welcomed these new players with open arms.
Jha is proud of where the team has come, but she seemed most delighted with the family they have established on campus. At the end of her interview, she urged newcomers to come to a practice and meet the team. And when asked who could join the team, the answer was pretty straight forward: everyone.
“Some people were coming from tackling sports and some people had never played team sports in their life,” Jha said. “We are really used to a wide range of athletic skill levels and entering these people into confident athletes.”
So if you or a friend are thinking about joining a team on campus and you don’t know where to start, check out Quadball. It may just be the family you are looking for.