Quadball looks to expand ahead of national tournament appearance


Danny Kennedy

Janie Hilllman (left), Amiri Sillah (center), and Caden Lisa (right) sharing a moment on the field

By Tyler Foy, Sports Editor

The Emerson Quadball team is en route to a historic season—but more than that, they value the welcoming and inclusive environment they manage. 

The US Quadball Division II team possesses a 5-7 record, all while playing Division I schools like Rutgers and Harvard and still managing to be ranked 15th out of 44 schools in US Quadball. 

On Nov. 6, ECQ traveled to East Boston Memorial Park to compete in the Northeast Regionals. Tournaments are played in a round-robin format and include D-I and D-II teams. On this occasion, Emerson bested the competition, earning its first US Quadball Cup bid via a regional tournament victory—the team will travel to Conshohocken, Penn. on April 15.

Last season, the Quadball team participated in the national tournament through an at-large bid, which is typically decided a couple of weeks before the competition.

“We’ve all put in a ton of work to get as far as we have,” sophomore co-captain Janie Hillman said. “I know some people played over the summer, I played over the summer to try to get better.”

“To finally see how it’s worth it and how we are growing is just really, really important and has given us a sort of confidence,” she added.

Based on the fictional sport, Quidditch, created by author J.K. Rowling in the “Harry Potter” series, the sport’s fantasized image has inspired many to play—although the sport has recently disassociated itself from the Rowling name, officially rebranding to quadball on July 19, 2022.  

The objective is to score points by throwing a white quadball worth 10 points through the hoop of the opposing team. There are four positions on a team: chasers who attack, beaters who defend using three black dodgeballs, keepers, and sweepers.

Quadball is open to college students of all gender identities. As a result, all players start from the same foundational level while still making it accessible to those with little athletic experience, according to sophomore chaser Sage Liebowitz.

The current roster consists of mostly underclassmen with ambitions to take the team to the next level. For Liebowitz, it was a great way to adjust to life at college and create new friendships.

“We all started as rookies together,” she said “We were all learning how to navigate college and navigate Emerson, while also collaborating on this new sport together, which was a pretty great opportunity.”

For many, the sport isn’t about the wins or the losses, but about community and camaraderie. Sophomore chaser Caden Lisa was convinced by a friend to try out midseason, and was surprised by the accepting environment fostered by the team.

“I thought it would be a good chance to meet new people and be active,” Lisa said. “After the first practice, I was overwhelmed with joy, because of how cool and welcoming the people were. It was a pleasure meeting them and calling them friends.”

Hillman was a three-sport athlete in high school, but she left her athletics in the past to focus on her studies when she arrived at Emerson. Quadball, she said, has enabled her to continue participating in the field and the classroom.

“I played sports my entire life and it was going to be something difficult for me to give up,” she said. “After moving in, I went to this ‘101’ session, and I immediately fell in love with the people there. It was such a loving environment where everyone was there to support each other.”

The Emerson quadball team hosts “101” sessions where they introduce players to the sport, and plan to welcome more players in the next couple of weeks.

There are still some issues that the team is struggling to overcome, Liebowitz said. After a large portion of athletes graduated, the team found it difficult to recruit enough non-male-identifying players for its roster. Liebowitz said that although the team embraces being co-ed, it has been tough to navigate the implicit biases around women in sports. 

“I had already been on the team for a year but I was always surrounded by other female players,” she said. “We had a lot more of a voice last year, and they all unfortunately left, so I kind of had to stand my ground, and it proved to be challenging.” 

The team has appointed a new female assistant coach who helps with the dichotomy.

“Having someone that has been in my position before [has] been really empowering, and especially that person being the voice of the team has been super helpful,” Liebowitz said.

Members say they enjoy spending time together not only on the field, but off it, with holiday parties and group trips, all of which help create a friendly environment.

“I consider this team [as] my family in a lot of ways,” Hillman said. “They are some of the most important people in my life and I love every single one of them.”

Any students interested can find the team at the Boston Common softball field on Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30-7:30 or on Sundays from 12:30-2:30.