Light the Tower! Celebrating the 2022 Sport Club National Champions: Texas Quidditch & Taekwondo
If someone were to yell “Texas!” toward a large group clad in burnt orange, they are likely to receive a rousing “Fight!” returned to them. The Longhorn spirit burns brightly worldwide, no matter how far from Austin you get. This sentiment is especially true for Texas Quidditch and Texas Taekwondo, the two RecSports sport clubs that achieved the highest accomplishment in their sport during the 2021–22 school year: a national championship. Both teams journeyed in opposite directions from Austin to their respective championship tournaments, but they never felt far from home. Read on to learn about each club’s journey and how they earned the title of champion.
Texas Quidditch never faltered en route to winning their club’s fifth national championship. Their fourth title came from the last national championship in early 2019, making the Longhorns the back-to-back champion. However, that tournament felt like a distant memory for four members who, at the time, ended their freshman year on top. This year’s national championship was a new experience for the other 17 team members, so it was anyone’s guess how this season would go. Nevertheless, with an official record of 23–0, Texas Quidditch proved that they are still the dominant collegiate powerhouse throughout the season.
And if you’re wondering, yes, Quidditch is the very same sport first found in the Harry Potter universe. It was brought to real life by Middlebury College in 2005, which went on to win the first five US Quidditch Cup titles. However, their reign would quickly come to an end in 2013 when a new victor emerged, The University of Texas at Austin. Texas Quidditch was founded in 2012 and quickly rose to prominence by winning the following three national titles. Although they did not win again until the 2019 US Quidditch Cup, the Longhorns have always been the team to beat. It’s difficult to underestimate a multiple-time national champion that has boisterous cheers and unforgettable burnt orange uniforms.
The 2021–22 season was no different as Texas Quidditch consistently sat atop the collegiate rankings. The Longhorns traveled for matches and hosted a home tournament at Wright-Whitaker Sports Complex during the fall semester. At a tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, the team faced off against second-ranked Creighton University. When Texas Quidditch handily dispatched the Bluejays, they felt more than prepared for the journey to nationals. In a sport like Quidditch that lacks infrastructure at the junior level, most team members have never played before. The fall semester is vital for training and learning, so winning early in the season gave the rookie players confidence in moving forward.
After an early match against an in-state rival, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas Quidditch spent the rest of the spring semester on the road. First, they traveled to Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the regional competition, where they snagged the top spot. Then, in mid-April, the Longhorns packed their brooms and headed west to Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We felt confident going into nationals. There was really good energy.”
said Purvi Mujumdar, communications chair for Texas Quidditch. The Longhorns fought through pool play, facing tight matches against Harvard and Virginia that tested their resolve. It seemed, however, that no matter who Texas Quidditch played, the crowd was never on their side. The team didn’t let the jeers affect them; in fact, they used the crowd’s energy to fuel themselves and their own cheers. As a result, the Longhorns propelled themselves through the bracket to the final match, where a familiar foe awaited: Creighton.
In the championship game, the key to Texas Quidditch’s success was their diverse mix of experience. For the veterans, they knew what to expect and how to manage the moment. For the rookies, this new experience was exciting, which helped stave off any nerves. Even the pressure of a one-versus-two matchup didn’t stop the Longhorns from trouncing the Bluejays 185–80. The match ended with the Longhorn seeker capturing the Golden Snitch (a role played by a human, not an enchanted, winged ball), and Texas Quidditch cemented their place at the top of collegiate Quidditch for another year.
For Mujumdar, the club’s greatest success is not only winning the national championship but maintaining a high level of excellence even after two years without competition. Where some schools were unable to recruit a full roster, Texas Quidditch recruited, trained, and empowered their new teammates, and those efforts paid off. So while the UT Tower shone orange to celebrate the club’s magical achievement, the Longhorns took a moment to appreciate the opportunity to play again and continue building Texas Quidditch’s legacy.
Texas Taekwondo successfully defended its national championship streak, extending it to three titles in a row. Their most recent two titles came in 2018 and 2019, and although they had to wait through two agonizing years, the Longhorns came back at full strength. The club captured the team title by winning the Novice and Combined categories. Texas Taekwondo was so successful in the Novice category that it had all but secured its title at the end of the competition on day one. That is to say: the newest club members led their team to victory, many of whom had little to no experience with the sport when classes began in August.
If you’re unfamiliar with taekwondo, it is a martial art with Korean roots that uses punches and kicks, specifically head height kicks and fast movements. Collegiate taekwondo has two types of competition: Poomsae and sparring. Poomsae tests participants’ ability to show specific patterns of attack-and-defense forms based on their belt level. Sparring is a full-contact competition where fighters earn points after successfully using techniques.
Texas Taekwondo has traditionally focused on sparring competitions because finding talented coaches has been more accessible. However, the club has made an intentional effort to bring in Poomsae instructors and provide opportunities for members to learn about this non-combat competition. Arnav Mohanty, president of Texas Taekwondo, shared that Poomsae has grown significantly, allowing the club to bring a contingent of competitors to the national championship. Texas Taekwondo’s commitment to and success in both competitions has not gone unnoticed. Every year, talented taekwondo athletes from all across the United States choose to attend the University of Texas to join the club. In addition, Mohanty says that they were able to recruit students who specialize in Poomsae to be coaches, giving the team even more of a competitive edge.
Texas Taekwondo’s success didn’t start at nationals; it was a journey throughout the season to prepare the team for the biggest stage. In the fall, the club traveled around the state of Texas to compete. These meets were the first time they ever competed against someone from another school for many on the team. As fierce as intrasquad meets can be, they can’t replace the challenge of going against complete strangers. These early competitions were crucial in giving the novice members experience in pressure situations outside the comfort of their own gym. The fall semester’s meets were essential to building the team’s confidence, regardless of the outcome.
When the spring semester rolls around, it seems obvious that Texas Taekwondo’s plan is to win every time they take the mat. However, Mohanty stressed that each spring's ultimate goal is for each member to set their own goal and work toward it. For some veteran members, that goal may be to stand atop the podium at the end of the season. For others, goals might focus on individual growth in practice. The club strives to welcome students with a variety of skills and experience, so the expectation is always to be better in whatever way works for each member.
Still, competition is a great way to challenge oneself, and Texas Taekwondo never shies from a challenge. Although the full club of around 210 members doesn’t make it to every competition, many members represented the club, traveling to Boulder, Colorado, to compete against the University of Colorado. The Longhorns also hosted a tournament themselves at the Recreational Sports Center that gave newer members another opportunity to get a competitive experience. When April arrived, nearly 50 members traveled to Marlborough, Massachusetts, to compete in the first fully in-person nationals in two years.
From the moment Texas Taekwondo arrived, they made their presence known. No matter if there was a Longhorn competing on opposites sides of the building, there was always a crowd of teammates supporting them with cheers, chants, and of course, “Texas! Fight!” Ultimately, the club’s preparation paid off as many novice and veteran members alike received medals across the competition. Their collective success was enough to nab the overall team national championship and maintain their impressive win streak.
As the club breaks for the summer, several members will compete to qualify for the World University Games and the U.S. Olympic team. Whether they’re sporting red, white, and blue or rocking burnt orange, the members of Texas Taekwondo have proven again that they deserve to stand atop the world of collegiate taekwondo.