Quadball, the sport formerly known as Quidditch, comes to Conshy for its first championship with a new name

Elaine and Heidi Kermes were ready for a Big Ten faceoff, which they drove an hour and scheduled for a Saturday.

In metal bleachers overlooking a conshohocken sports field, Heidi wore corn and blue and cheered on the team from the University of Michigan, her hometown, while Elaine wore a baseball cap with the Penn State logo.

It was noon and the marital rivalry game wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:30 p.m. But the Lancaster couple were so excited about the other games in the tournament that they decided to spend a day watching a sport Heidi loves.

Which is not basketball, football, volleyball or tennis.

They competed in the US Quadball Cup, the annual championship tournament for a sport formerly known as US Quidditch.

“It’s like Harry Potter in real life,” said Heidi, who was in her fifth Cup and was the closest to home (she drove to Kissimmee, Fla. from Lancaster a few years ago).

On Saturday and Sunday, the event takes over the Proving Grounds, a massive multi-sport complex in Conshohocken, drawing thousands of collegiate athletes, parents and fans from California and Texas to the area. More than 60 teams competed.

The weekend marks the first time the Cup has been held in Pennsylvania and the first time it has come to the Northeast in over a decade.

It is also the first championship tournament since the sport changed its name from Quidditch to quadball, a move taken in part to distance itself from Harry Potter author JK Rowling and her views on the transgender community.

Minnesota’s William Templin scores Saturday in a quadball game against Tufts at the Conshohocken Proving Grounds..Continue readingHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

“It was a combination of factors,” said Jack McGovern, spokesman for US Quadball and a native of Haverford Township, as he stood beside one of the 12 pitches on Saturday morning. Among them, however, was that the sport wanted to distance itself from “the anti-trans positions that JK Rowling has taken.”

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The name change was the culmination of at least a decade of conversations within the quadball community, which prides itself on its inclusiveness. Teams may not have more than four people of the same gender on the field at any one time. About 40% of quadball players identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or non-binary, according to the sport’s latest membership census.

At a time when some lawmakers are attempting to limit the rights of trans people, including by banning their participation in girls’ sports, Quadball welcomes them with open arms.

» READ MORE: Photos from the 2023 US Quadball Cup tournament in Conshohocken

Sometimes literally.

Former player Richard Crumrine, 29, a Florida native who currently resides in Alaska, wore rainbows on his bright yellow jersey and on his socks, walked around playing music from a portable speaker and carried a sign that read “Free Hugs”.

A passing player called out, “Can I have a hug?” Crumrine wrapped his arms around her.

He called quadball “a huge symbol of inclusivity” and said his “Free Hugs” campaign is just part of it.

“It’s hard for someone in a dark situation to say, ‘I need help,'” Crumrine said, but maybe a hug — offered with a colorful, hard-to-miss sign — can help a little.

He and others in the quadball community said they support the sport’s name change for similar reasons. Even if it will take some getting used to.

Heidi Kermes, for example, said she decided against wearing a shirt from a previous tournament that said “Quidditch.” Instead, she planned to shop for a new quadball shirt Saturday. Other fans were running around wearing shirts with Harry Potter references like “Platform 9¾” or “I’m only here for the Butterbeer”.


The name change can sometimes confuse potential players, said Paul Ruffolo, 22, a senior and team captain at Middlebury College, where the sport originated.

Rutgers’ Jahved Cole scores during a quadball game against Cal at the Conshohocken Proving Grounds. .Continue readingHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

He and his teammates have long supported the change based on Rowling’s comments, he said, but the new name has at times made it difficult to sell the sport to people quickly. Many look confused when he mentions quadball, he added, so he often has to clarify that it was the sport formerly known as Quidditch.

“I don’t know how to do this,” he said.

McGovern, the spokesperson, acknowledged that the sport will never fully sever its association with Harry Potter, the series from which its rules were adopted. Players even hold a broom between their legs as they walk across the field.

Michael Rodriguez, who is working to expand the sport to youth in the Philadelphia area through his company Levio Learning, teaches the game at wizarding camps and events as well as in his own academies. Not infrequently, children who do not otherwise play sports are drawn to quadball because they have read Harry Potter.

“If kids are reading Harry Potter, it’s a good addition,” said Rodriguez, 28, who played quadball for Drexel’s now-defunct team and lives in Folsom. “Reading is good for children. So walk around.”

There are currently no youth quadball leagues, although he hopes there will one day be once people get back into the sport.

A quadball game between Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley. .Continue readingHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

Current players said they were drawn to quadball for a variety of reasons.

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Rutgers captain Annika Kim, 20, of Palisades Park, NJ, said she fell in love with the sport when she saw a highlight reel on TikTok.

Her teammate James Kaari, 21, of Toms River, came across a table for quadball at a club fair. It was next to the table for volleyball, a sport they reportedly wanted to sign up for until learning it required prior knowledge they didn’t have.

McGovern, 24, said Quadball leaders hope the name change will attract more athletes as well.

“There are a lot of people who wouldn’t have given the sport a chance,” he said. He hopes they’ll think about it now.

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