A Year in Review: Quidditch Canada’s 2016-17 Season – Rising Beyond Their Stations

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).   

16. University of Victoria Valkyries (UVic) – Nathan Ross

After losing every game in the 2015-16 season, the University of Victoria Valkyries had one clear goal: to get that elusive win. It did not take them long, as they almost won in their first tournament of the year, where they within snitch range against the Calgary Mavericks  when the snitch was released (and later lost 110*-40) at Octobear. They finally got the win against the University of British Columbia Quidditch Club (UBCQC) in their first Quidditch Conference of the Northwest (QCON) games in November, albeit against a very depleted UBCQC roster. Then, at the Western Regional Championships, the Valkyries shot down any doubts about their ability to win, decisively taking a game against Calgary and nearly beating Simon Fraser University (SFU) Quidditch to play in the semifinals.

University of Victoria Valkyries seeker Julian Cowden grabs the snitch at the National Championship 2017 | Photo Credit: JYK Photography

This team was the result of a lot of hard work from Misha Whittingham and Cynthia Chao, who poured years of effort into recruiting and building a quidditch program at UVic that was more than just the friendliest team to play against. Combined with its success at playing host for the 2017 National Championship, this season has to be considered a win for UVic, even as it only ranks 16th in the country. The teams that made it out to Victoria were treated to a well-run tournament on UVic’s gorgeous fields, showing the dedication that UVic was a serious host, and its sixth-place finish showed it was not a team to write off either.

The challenge – as with so many university-based teams – is replacing players who have graduated and moved on. Aforementioned captain Whittingham is taking his talents to graduate school in Lithuania, and Chao is also believed to be moving on. UVic also lost one of its best keepers in Soleil Heaney to the Edmonton Aurors. As such, players like Teigan Miller-Gauthier and Nicholas Planidin will be expected to pick up the slack in the chasing and beating games respectively, and keep the momentum moving forward during the 2017-18 season.     

17. Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club (CFQC) – François Carabin

Playing in its sixth year as McGill University’s B-team, Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club took a step in the right direction this season. According to team captain Matt Connolly, the team was looking to “transform its rookies into a cohesive team that would compete against mid-tier quidditch teams as well as build individual skills and confidence for the players new to the game” this season. As such, some growing pains were expected.

CFQC did not fare well in its first tournament in Montreal back in October. However, results started going CFQC’s way throughout the year, which culminated in an impressive showing at the Eastern Regional Championship. Its strong competitive play helped the team to a 3-2 record, playing as a more cohesive team unit.

CFQC and Université de Montréal‎ chasers Edgard Ngalissamy and Anabelle Tardif-Samson | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

CFQC’s defensive play caused opponents the most issues this season. A solid beater unit helped the team limit time spent on playing defence to get back and score points on the other end. According to Connolly, this helped the team keep games close until the end, where CFQC let loose its quick and nimble seekers, such as Charles-Hubert Favreau, who had a few important catches throughout the season.

It was on the offensive end that CFQC lost many of its games, as its slow-developing play often cost the team easy goal opportunities. The team’s ball handlers often remained far from the hoops, making catches harder for wing chasers around and behind the hoops.

Still, the club has improved quite a bit this past season, and even with a few players graduating to McGill, there is a good chance the team can ruffle a few feathers with more experience on the roster.

18. UTSC Phoenix – Lisa Tubb

Traditionally a lower-tier, yet resilient team, UTSC Phoenix turned plenty of heads with its performance at the unofficial Fall Classic at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. This tournament saw UTSC gradually improve its tactics throughout the day, playing against Ryerson Quidditch and Quidditch Lionel-Groulx twice, and losing to the latter by a mere snitch catch. There was plenty of hype surrounding UTSC as the Eastern Regional Championship approached, specifically surrounding the training regime Captain Tim Lee enforced, which focused on body strength and strategy. UTSC was to be the breakthrough team of the 2016-17 season, as it had brought in new leadership and had initially shown some promise at the Fall Classic.

UTSC Phoenix seeker attempting a snitch catch at the Eastern Regional Championship 2017 | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

Hungry to prove its ability, UTSC headed to the regional championship. Day One saw a narrow loss to CFQC (100*-90). Another tight game was seen against the University of Toronto Centaurs, again with the game being decided by a snitch catch, 90*-60 to the Centaurs. These losses were avenged by soundly defeating Ryerson twice, 100-70* and 90*-20, but the team was dealt a significant loss by Waterloo Quidditch (170*-40). The only real conclusion one can make is that UTSC’s Day One at the regional championship was filled with inconsistent performances that resulted in close games, even when it won. Day Two saw renewed life in UTSC’s final game against Royal City Quidditch, but ended 100-90* for the latter.

The club’s performance at the Eastern Regional Championship did not entirely live up to its previous performances. Overly conservative beater play and a lack of chaser physicality ultimately hindered the team through the second day of the tournament. With this full, dedicated roster, more experience will help UTSC shape its own unique strategy, so this season provides the club with a good foothold for further development. With the university’s official support and numbers behind the Phoenix, only more good things can follow.

This article is part of a series of season recaps. The last part of our series will recap the seasons of Royal City Quidditch, Ryerson Quidditch, and the McMaster Marauders.