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Minnesota Quadball goes to Wonderland at Winter Formal

The Alice in Wonderland-themed event is the group’s main fundraiser for the national quadball competition in April.
Image by Justine Vance (courtesy)
Attendees participate in a trivia game at last year’s Yule Ball.

Minnesota Quadball (MNQ), the University of Minnesota’s official quadball team, is hosting its annual Winter Formal fundraiser this Saturday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Coffman Memorial Union Great Hall.

MNQ’s Winter Formal, previously known as Yule Ball, serves as the group’s primary fundraiser for traveling to the national quadball competition in Round Rock, Texas in April, according to Meredith McDowell, a third-year student and the vice president of MNQ.

Quadball, formerly known as quidditch, was a sport made popular by the “Harry Potter” book series. However, parent organizations Major League Quadball and U.S. Quadball rebranded in 2022 to distance themselves from author J.K. Rowling, who came under scrutiny for transphobic remarks. 

“We’re trying to disassociate from [Rowling] and disassociate from the [Harry Potter books] a little bit,” said third-year student and MNQ event coordinator Anna Nelson. “Where the sport has evolved to such a different level of competitiveness than was originally when it started out.”

This year, the Winter Formal is Alice in Wonderland themed and will have dancing, themed food, two student bands, The Gentlebrass and Rhino Shrine, and a silent auction, according to Nelson. Other activities include Mad Hatter-themed musical chairs, four corners with Alice in Wonderland characters and time trial relay races.

MNQ is aiming to sell about 250 tickets this year with all profits from Winter Formal going to the players’ travel funds for nationals. Last year, the organization was able to fund $200 of each member’s plane tickets, but McDowell said the ultimate goal is to provide full reimbursement.

“Anything that we can make as a profit from this dance, we try to reimburse players, especially for those plane tickets, as much as we possibly can to make the financial burden of participating in the sport a little bit easier for college students,” McDowell said.

Nelson added that the level of support from other quadball teams and players for their organization has been outstanding. She said MNQ and surrounding quadball teams have formed a close-knit community because it is such a unique sport.

“There’s a lot of community connections that are coming in,” Nelson said. “There’s people from teams in Chicago and people from teams in Missouri and a lot of other people who are expressing interest in wanting to donate to help fund our stuff.”

Linnea Johnston, a third-year student, is not a member of MNQ but attended last year’s ball because their roommate was heavily involved with the organization.

Johnston said they appreciated the dance because they hadn’t gotten the opportunity to attend a formal event since their high school prom. Since they aren’t a member of Greek Life or related organizations, Johnston said this was one of the only chances they had to participate in an event like Winter Formal.

“I think it’s very important for being able to have these spaces for people to just have fun and be with like-minded people that’s not super related to academics,” Johnston said.

While the primary purpose of Winter Formal is to raise money for members to attend nationals, McDowell noted the importance of the event’s ability to bring in members of the general University community. The dance is open to everyone, no quadball experience required.

“This is just a really cool way for us as a community to get together and have fun with our friends as well as open it up to the broader community,” McDowell said. “This event is open to anybody, 18 plus, you don’t even have to be a University member to participate. It’s just a really cool way for us to engage the broader community with our own little community.”

Tickets for MNQ’s Winter Formal can be bought on their website.

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