Event Report: US Quadball Cup 2023 in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
The US Quadball Cup 2023 took place from April 15 to 16 at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and I got the privilege to attend the first day’s games. I will be honest: Going in, I knew absolutely nothing. My familiarity with quadball was practically nonexistent, minus the aspects that cross over from Quidditch, and I don’t consider myself a Quidditch connoisseur. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am by no means a sports enthusiast, so you will rarely catch me at any sporting events, Harry Potter–related or otherwise. As a trans person, I also tend to stray away from sports because sporting communities can often feel ostracizing toward trans and LGBTQ+ people.
But the second I entered the Proving Grounds, I felt welcome. I was greeted by waves of players and fans adorned in pride flags of all sorts and pride-themed official quadball merch. After familiarizing myself with the game and interviewing players, staff, and fans, the biggest takeaway I have is the importance of the community created by this sport.
Without fail, every person I interviewed mentioned how positively quadball has affected them because of the people involved. I believe Kym Couch, a current US Quadball (USQ) volunteer, former quadball referee, and member of the International Quadball Association board, put it best: “Come for the sport. Stay for the community.” From everything I’ve seen and heard at this event, I’d absolutely have to agree. In between all of the action, tackles, spills, and goals, I got to experience the rich community this sport has created.
Quadball, originally quidditch, was renamed following the author’s transphobic views. The US Quadball mission statement reads, “US Quadball is the national governing body for the sport of quadball. USQ advances the sport by organizing events and programs that build community and empower adult and youth athletes of all identities, including all races and genders, to compete together.”
Every person I interviewed, including two trans individuals – Dana from the quadball team Chicago United and Mitch from the team New York Slice – felt that the quadball transition (pun intended) was done in a way that showed allyship and love for their trans community members. In fact, both of them said they never had any doubt they’d continue playing quadball, despite no longer enjoying Harry Potter.
Jack McGovern, a quadball fan, player, and volunteer, has been a lover of the sport since he started reading Harry Potter when he was around 10 years old. A native to my area (and the location of this event), Jack has played on the Chicago club team Boom Train and is a volunteer with USQ. I had the pleasure of spending the day with him, and his enthusiasm and love for quadball are so apparent. He told me how he “could tell right away, even as a young person, that this was a welcoming community.” He went on to say that he “found friends across the country and around the world through this sport, and the community means a lot to [him].”
I watched Jack greet dozens of people from all across the country with a smile or hug, and I saw him run over to embrace his teammate after a particularly hard match, reassuring him that he did amazing. The quadball community is so vibrant and loving.
Off the pitch, you’d never know any of these teams were competing against one another, tackling each other at full force. I watched team Chicago United sitting on the sidelines cheering on Michigan State University with handmade signs.
Another individual, Richard, walked around in a bright yellow and rainbow uniform with a “FREE HUGS” sign.
Teams warmed up together, sat talking on unused pitches, and happily congratulated one another. I was so touched by the love I saw at the US Quadball Cup, and I have certainly felt drawn to the sport now. Actually, despite being a self-proclaimed “sports hater” (especially as a viewer), I streamed the second day’s Collegiate D1 Championship final from home. Congratulations to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) on their win against Harvard; it was such a close game!