A Year in Review: Quidditch Canada’s 2016-17 Season – When Overhauling Goes So Right (and So Wrong)

Summer is a time for reflecting over the achievements from the past season. The Quidditch Post presents our new seven-part series reviewing the 2016-17 seasons of all 21 league-official Quidditch Canada teams (sorted by final rankings).  

10. Calgary Mavericks – Nathan Ross
While Calgary has been fielding a competitive team since before the 2016-17 season, this marked the inaugural season for the Calgary Mavericks. In a city that also boasts three other development teams (the University of Calgary Mudbloods, the Calgary Kelpies, and the Mount Royal University Manticores), all eyes were on the Mavericks in Cowtown to see how they would perform. With brand new coaches, an executive team, and an overhauled roster, the Mavericks made the most of their first impression, and their future looks promising.

Mavericks seeker Chris Day faces off against SFU seeker Danny Ly | Photo Credit: JYK Photography

The team spent most of the 2016 portion of this season still gelling and hitting speed bumps. Calgary did not look intimidating at either the Octobear tournament, or the Western Regional Championship, and seemed to really struggle heading into the new year. The team doubled down on dedication and commitment in 2017, and turned it up heading into the National Championship. Its chasers – led by Michael Wanless – kept up with the best of them, while Calgary’s beater play improved exponentially over the course of the year. While beater mainstays like Kayla Ross and Allan Chan have always had the talent, the communication with the chasers was not always there, hindering a full team cohesiveness. As the country saw at nationals in Victoria, those issues are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

With the amount of teams located in Alberta and how close knit that community is, it truly seems that the Mavericks are reaping the benefits of assembling their A-team while its members still do their best to develop the game not only in their city, but up north with how much they work with Central Alberta and Edmonton to ensure a healthy quidditch environment. While Calgary was the “best of the rest” outside the four teams that made up this year’s semifinalists for the National Championship, do not be surprised if the Mavericks force their way into the upper echelon in the next few years. This team found its identity this season, and that should be what sticks with it as it works on becoming an elite team in Quidditch Canada.

11. Carleton Ravens – Courtney Butler
With over half of its players this season being rookies, Carleton’s season was very much focused on introducing new players to the sport and working on rebuilding from the many players it lost last season. Due to graduation and injury, notable faces such as Matt Bourassa, Matt Stone, and Kristina Bromley were not part of the Carleton lineup. This roster overhaul caused the beginning of its season to start out slower than usual, with many games ending in disappointing losses.

Zoe Mastellotto advances the quaffle | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography

As the season went on, many of Carleton’s rookies began to show major improvements as they attended more tournaments. Although many of its games still ended in losses, Carleton was pushing for much closer games, making many teams sweat when Team Canada’s starting seeker, Alex Naftel, could make them pay in snitch-range games. At the Frosty Broom tournament in February, this gap between the top teams and Carleton was closed even further when University of Ottawa DeeGees players Martin Chiasson and Karen Douglas joined their ranks and helped Carleton take Valhalla Quidditch and the University of Guelph Gryphons within snitch range.

The development that Carleton has accomplished this season has been immense, and with its rookies gaining strength as the season went on, this team should be in a good position to come out even stronger next year. With notable performances from rookies Jake Blackburn and Christopher Johnson, Carleton is primed to let the next generation of quidditch players shine in the upcoming season.

12. Simon Fraser University Quidditch (SFU) – Nathan Ross

Editor’s Note: Nathan Ross is a player for SFU and is part of its executive leadership.

Simon Fraser University took a few steps back this year, both due to losing students and the numerous injuries it dealt with. This is a team that finished the 2015-16 season one snitch catch away from winning Western Regionals, and ended this season with having to forfeit one of its games (against Valhalla Quidditch) at this season’s National Championship.

SFU started the year with a huge learning curve, as more than 50 percent of the team was made up of rookies. The biggest losses were felt in the quaffle game, as SFU retained most of its beaters from the previous season. SFU earned a gutsy third place finish over University of British Columbia Quidditch Club at the Western Regionals, winning in overtime by relying heavily on beater play and its rookie seekers. However, that would be the high point of the season. To underscore how hard the team struggled with attendance numbers, none of the rookie seekers who played during Western Regionals were still on the team come January, as they either left the country or had to focus on their academics. The team could not stay healthy either; SFU’s performance at Nationals was a microcosm of this, where the team lost four players in its first two games en route to a seventh place finish.

Beater battle between SFU’s Alyssa Au and UVic Valkyries Quidditch Club’s Kassidy Smids-Dyk | Photo Credit: JYK Photography

Between the attendance and health issues, the team was often disjointed on the field. SFU relied heavily on slow-balling and hoping for opportune moments because its attempts to develop real plays were messy at best, and depressing at worst. When a team cannot get its foundations solidified, it looks unappealing to potential new players, meaning that SFU gets caught up in a vicious cycle.

SFU does have some good news in the return of James Champion next season, who will be coming back from his year abroad in Europe. However, he may not be enough to counter the number of players who have graduated or are leaving for a year abroad and will not be returning. The challenge falls on the new leadership to solidify the quidditch program at SFU and build a system that does not solely rely on hoping for recruits year in and year out. SFU has shown flashes of talent that suggests potentially being a team on the cusp of being a contender, but Canada will not get any sight of that until SFU can get a more committed team that comes together.  

This article is part of a series of season recaps. The next part of our series will recap the seasons of the University of Toronto Centaurs, Quidditch Lionel-Groulx, and University of British Columbia Quidditch Club.