Harry Potter novel-inspired sport combines elements of dodgeball, rugby, tag and Ultimate Frisbee
Roseville, Calif. – Quadball, an action-packed and fast-growing sport that evolved from the pages of the Harry Potter fantasy novels, will hold its only West Coast national qualifier Saturday, Feb. 10, and Sunday, Feb. 11, at Maidu Regional Park in Roseville.
More than a dozen teams, from as far away as New Jersey and Wisconsin, will compete in the US Quadball National Qualifier, a two-day tournament that will attract some of the best clubs in the nation and help pave the way to the US Quadball Cup this spring in Texas. US Quadball has held four tournaments in Placer Valley since 2013. The games start at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
What is Quadball?
Quadball – formerly known as Quidditch – combines dodgeball, rugby and tag on a field where athletes must carry a broom (plastic pipe) between their legs, much like the magical wizard in the Harry Potter novels. A volleyball tossed through on-field hoops for scoring, three dodgeballs for hitting opponents and a late-in-the game addition of a yellow flag to be captured from a hard-to-chase official are all part of the fast-paced sport.
“It’s a beautiful, intricate sport…”
“It’s got a lot of elements from other sports,” said athlete Bryanna McLaughlin, President of the Arizona State University team. The defending Division II championship team will participate in the College Division in Roseville. “It’s a beautiful, intricate sport. And it’s a sport for every gender and body type.”
Quadball, founded almost two decades ago at Middlebury University in Vermont, has attracted the attention of athletes looking for an option to the traditional court and field sports – and where individuals of all gender identities compete equally. Quadball is a mixed-gender sport, with no more than four individuals of the same gender identity on the pitch at the same time.
And players, regardless of their gender, face the same challenges, from getting hit by a dodgeball to being tackled. (You can learn the basics of Quadball from a four-minute video on the US Quadball website.)
“There’s definitely a physicality to the sport,” said Lindsey Simpson, Head Captain of the Lost Boys Quadball Club. The Los Angeles-area based team will compete in the Club Division in Roseville. “It’s like Ultimate Frisbee meets rugby, while a game of dodgeball is going on.”
For first-time watchers, the fast-moving game can seem “chaotic,” said Megan Anderson, Senior Director of Membership and Operations for US Quadball. “But that chaos quickly turns into excitement and fun.”
Over 200 participants
About 225 athletes will participate in the tournament at Maidu Regional Park. They will dine at restaurants and stay in hotels in Placer Valley.
While the economic impact will be less than some other recent events – such as the West Coast Tournament of Champions women’s wrestling tournament in December – bringing and introducing a one-of-a-kind sport to the region is also part of the mission of Placer Valley Tourism.
“Quadball is such a fun sport to watch, there is so much action and always something going on,” said Kim Summers, CEO of Placer Valley Tourism and @the Grounds. “It’s almost like two games are going on at the same time. We love having the opportunity to bring such a unique event and experience to the local community.”
The closest team is in the Bay Area. But Quadball is gaining traction, with about 80 teams nationwide and more than 600 teams worldwide. And 60 teams – and more than 1,000 players – will compete in the US Quadball Cup on April 13-14 in Round Rock, Texas. “It’s an all-grassroot effort,” Anderson said of the sport’s growth. “There’s been a lot of good, organic growth.”
Harry Potter connection
Some of that magic likely stems from the connection to the Harry Potter novels and the subsequent blockbuster movies. “I’ve always had a pro-Harry Potter mindset,” said Simpson, who competed in other sports in high school and came across Quadball while attending Emerson College in Boston.
“I was looking to do an intramural sport and once I gave it a shot, it was a good fit. I’ve been playing the sport ever since.” Admission to the US National Qualifier at Maidu Regional Park is $5 per day in advance and available online; $10 per day when the tournament starts. Games start at 8 a.m. both days.
Fans should “go in with the expectation of being confused at first, but that goes away very fast,” said McLaughlin, a high school cheerleader who came across the sport as a freshman at Arizona State University. “It’s definitely different and there is a clear level of competitiveness. It all makes for a very unique sport.”