The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

UT Quidditch Flies in Popularity

Asha Rountree

Quadball, formerly known as Quidditch, has gained massive popularity since its founding in 2005, with over 600 teams and numerous universities participating in national competitions across 40 countries, according to the US Quadball League. The University of Texas at Austin (UT) has adopted and promoted the club sport of Quadball. The Texas Quadball team currently holds five national titles. This season, they competed in the Division 1 bracket and emerged with two tournament wins. The finals were held in Round Rock, Texas.

This unique activity combines aspects of rugby, basketball, and dodgeball. Modern-day quadball brings life to the fictional sport from the “Harry Potter” series by including real-life seekers, dodgers, bludgers, quaffles, and the elusive golden snitch. Athletes run around with a pipe between their legs while trying to throw a deflated volleyball through hoops. In addition, players try to prevent their opponents from scoring. 

Skye Dodson, a senior at UT, is wrapping up her first season with Varsity Quadball as a beater, or defensive player. She enjoys playing Quadball at UT because of the competitive yet tight-knit environment the school fosters. 

“I just think that students are so dedicated to everything that they do, academics and extracurriculars, and I think it’s been very apparent on the club team here that people don’t really take it lazily,” Dodson said. “Our UT team, they really do take it seriously as a sport, and I think it’s so great to play with a team that has that mindset.”

Making do with available materials, the structure of each game and its rules are modeled after the fictional Quidditch match structures. As a self-proclaimed Potterhead, Dodson is particularly fascinated by the resemblance of the snitch in Quadball to the fictional sport created in J.K. Rowling’s seven-novel series. 

“The whole game is split into two halves,” Dodson said. “The second half is called snitch on pitch. We have a person who has a waistband, and then we use a tennis ball that we put in a little sock. It’s like flag football. [The snitch] hangs from the back of their belt.”

UT senior Swathi Mannem is one of the two current team captains. As a captain, she is responsible for preparing her team and teaching the rules of Quadball to her teammates. 

“Every year we get a new group of people, and this sport is also kind of unique in that nobody has played it before college,” Mannem said. “Every time we get a new person, we have to teach them everything from scratch. So that’s, I think, the biggest and most important part of being a captain, is being able to teach the sport and get results.”

While the rules may not come easy to first-time Quadball players, Mannem still finds magic in the process of finding a place in the team and the sport. For her, the Texas Quadball team has created a sense of magic by building closely connected communities.

“Our team is really close,” Mannem said. “A lot of people find their closest friends and people they stay in contact with for the rest of their lives. A couple of our alumni are married [and] have kids together.”

Zach Pickett, who graduated in the UT class of 2017, enjoyed playing Quadball because of the people he met outside his College of Chemical Engineering. Furthermore, Pickett found a sense of togetherness within this team sport of Quadball.

“When you’re in college, in your classes, you [only] interact with the people in your college,” Pickett said. “The people I saw every day were just engineering students. In Quidditch, I got to interact with so many different people in Liberal Arts or Natural Science, so that was really cool, getting exposed to different kinds of people and different perspectives.”

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