Magic on MacInnes Field: UBC quidditch feeds quadball’s growth in Canada

In the cold Autumn breeze, students ran around MacInnes Field mounted on broomsticks, attempting to get a quaffle ball into three unequally lengthed hoops. This was the Western Divisionals Quidditch Tournament, and here to compete were the Alberta Clippers, Vancouver Vanguards, Simon Fraser University (SFU) Red Leafs and hosting UBC Thunderbirds.

Quidditch is a mixture of rugby, handball, dodgeball and wrestling. UBC quidditch squad mate Mike Liu said, “it’s controlled chaos.”

The sport is co-ed, accepting people of all sizes. “You can be a five-foot person and still play against someone bigger,” said UBC squad coach Soleil Heaney. Although competitive, there is no room for disrespect or overpowering someone. The rule book spans over 90 pages looking to prevent injuries and encourage fair play.

Throughout the day, teams cheered each other on, enjoying the niche quidditch community. The Vancouver Vanguards are mostly made up of UBC alumni, and the tournament was a chance for old friends to reunite.

The Thunderbirds delivered an outstanding performance in their first match, but couldn’t keep up with the seasoned Vanguards, dropping the match 225–20.

Thunderbirds next matched up with SFU. The squad was looking to bounce back from their first loss, though the teams were evenly matched. In the end, it was the T-Birds who took the game, narrowly defeating SFU by a score of 160–155.

After a loss to the Alberta Clippers, UBC met SFU again for the bronze medal game. Quickly into the match, there was no question that both these squads wanted the win. Through grit and determination, the Thunderbirds emerged victorious 170–130, becoming the top university team in Western Canada.

The top scorers from UBC were Drew Sanders with 80 points, Liu with 60 and Naomi Hildebrand with 50.

The Vanguards won first place against the Alberta Clippers with the UBC squad cheering on the sidelines.

Quidditch is becoming popular around Canada, and some UBC alumni that play for the Vanguards compete for Canada’s national squad.

Quidditch is slowly removing itself as a franchise appendage and standing on its own as an emerging sport — under the name quadball — with UBC players participating in its growth. At UBC, quidditch is a Thunderbirds Sports Club.

While the Harry Potter appeal might have brought students in, the community they found kept players coming back year after year.

When Thunderbirds captain Wesley Cassidy was asked what kept him playing he said, “the community, I feel I know everyone really well and are just having a lot of fun.”

Mike Liu has contributed to The Ubyssey. Liu was not involved in the writing or editing of this piece.