I got up early last Saturday morning (10 a.m. for the non-Vassar students) to do something I had only previously thought about in hypotheticals. That is right, I was going to spectate a sport that, by my previous understanding, could not exist without magic: quadball (also known as quidditch). Now, you might be a little confused by this point, and to be honest, as I walked to the pitch, I was too. How was this non-magical quadball going to work? I was about to find out. As it turned out, the game was something unique but still wholly enjoyable. Quadball is an official sport, recognized by the International Quadball Association. There is a regulatory body, national tournaments and a rules booklet that is, astonishingly, over 100 pages long. I will get into this detail a little later, but for now, back to my chilly walk to the pitch, which was thankfully just behind my dorm.
I chose to sit down with some older folks after their kind offer of a space on their picnic blanket, and I was unfortunately not able to partake in their second kind offer of an early morning mimosa—I had neglected to bring a glass, silly me—and got ready to watch watch the opening scrimmages of the Butterbeer Classic, Vassar’s annual quadball tournament. It is hosted by the Butterbeer Broooers, our very own quadball team. I then had a quick chat with one of the team’s co-captains, Jesse Koblin ’25 [Disclaimer: Koblin is an Arts Editor for The Miscellany News], who kindly brought me up to speed on all things quadball, which I will now relay.
Quadball is a full contact sport which centers around getting a colored volleyball-esque ball, known as the quaffle, through one of three hoops placed at either end of the pitch. Simple enough, right? Wrong. There are three other balls—hence the name quadball—which act functionally like dodgeballs. Hit with a ball? You have to trek back to your own central hoop and touch it, after which you can reenter the game. This is further complicated by the fact that players are obligated to keep a broomstick in between their legs, and if they drop it, they also have to make the trip back to their central hoop, tag it and get back into the game.
Each player has a position, demarcated by a colored protective headband. Chasers handle the quaffle and score points while the Keepers guard their team’s hoops and act as a fourth chaser on offense. Beaters handle the other balls, trying to tag other players with them, and Seekers catch the flag runner, which I will explain in a second. You may be asking at this point: Where does quadball factor in the iconic golden snitch? That is where the aforementioned Seekers come into play. At some point during the match, a flag runner with a yellow cloth in their waistband comes onto the pitch. The Seekers attempt to grab their “snitch” (the cloth) and score a hefty sum of points for their team.
The scrimmages and matches I observed were a complex tangle of ball passing, shoving, maneuvering and masterfully executed scores. The Broooers were up against teams from Kutztown University and Cornell University and played against both schools in a mixed team for the final. I enjoyed watching much more than I expected to; the plays were chaotic, energetic and full of the players’ crystal-clear passion for the sport.
On the topic passion, here are some testimonials from our very own Broooers, who were kind enough to reflect on how the team has grown on both a professional and personal level, as well as their experience in the Butterbeer Classic: “If I were to describe my experience at the Butterbeer Classic in one word, I would say ‘thrilling,” Zach Silbergleit ’26, one of the team’s co-captains, told The Miscellany News. “I had been looking forward to being able to play against other teams. You feel a bit of a buzz when you finally get to play as a team against other teams instead of playing against your own team to practice.”
Jordan Shamoun ’24 shared this sentiment, especially after spending last semester studying abroad. “I was especially excited to get back into playing quadball this year. The team has been really focused on improving our skills and overall competitiveness this semester, and I feel like all of that hard work really paid off in the tournament,” Shamoun said. “Playing with and against Cornell and Kutztown was also a delight because we have been playing with them since my sophomore year. The friendship between our teams always makes the tournaments more exciting and enjoyable.”
Koblin ’25 also found the event to be a success. “The Butterbeer Classic was wonderful this year,” Koblin said. “A major highlight for me was our evolution throughout the semester—we have really gotten much stronger as a team. Our progress coalesced in the Classic, as we were able to hold our own against Kutztown and Cornell and even win the mixed-team game 120-80!”
These athlete accounts sum up the Butterbeer Classic, and the spirit of quadball, better than I ever could.