Whitehorse muggle represents Canada at quidditch championship

When you spend your time running across a field with a broom between your legs, it's important you're able to laugh at yourself.

When you spend your time running across a field with a broom between your legs, it’s important you’re able to laugh at yourself.

The people who decide to play quidditch have probably heard all the jokes you’re going to come up with.

“Nobody’s too serious about it,” said Whitehorse’s Robyn Fortune.

Fortune, a fixture in Yukon athletics for years, has been named to Team Canada for the Global Games quidditch championship.

On July 19, Team Canada will compete in Burnaby, B.C. against six other teams. They’ll crown an international champion in this relatively young sport.

Competitors are coming from Australia, Belgium, France, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.

For those unfamiliar with quidditch, the sport was born from the mind of J.K. Rowling in her wildly popular Harry Potter series.

Without the ability to fly, muggle (non-magical) quidditch is more like rugby meets basketball meets sprinting – on brooms.

The pitch is rectangular, usually a modified soccer field or other flat space, with three vertical hoops of varying heights at either end.

Fortune is a chaser, one of three on the field for her team at one time. The chasers’ job is to get the quaffle – a slightly deflated volleyball – though the hoops to score points.

Other players include the beaters, who throw semi-deflated dodgeballs at the chasers, forcing them out of commission for a time.

The keepers’ job is to defend the hoops. The seekers’ job is to catch the snitch.

The flying golden snitch of Potter fame is replaced with a player dressed in gold. When the snitch is caught the game ends.

The game will be familiar to fans of the novels. Minus the flying, the rules are very similar to the ones laid out by Rowling.

Fortune has never read the books.

“Quidditch is competitive now, and it’s attracting a lot of athletes, rather than people who are just fans of Harry Potter. So that’s what boat I’m in,” she said.

She may not know a potion from a patronus, but Fortune knows sports.

Before leaving for McGill she was a powerhouse athlete playing basketball and volleyball.

For the 2012-2013 season she was named female athlete of the year by Volleyball Yukon.

She represented Yukon at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in volleyball and was captain when the Yukon basketball team took home gold at the Arctic Winter Games in 2012.

When she arrived at McGill University two years ago to start a degree in mechanical engineering, she was looking for something new to try as part of orientation week.

“I thought I would try it because I thought it would be fun to say that I’d played quidditch once,” she said.

“It was a lot of fun and a lot harder than I expected. So I just kept coming back.”

Quidditch was adapted for us non-magical folks in 2005. There are now teams at more than 300 universities and high schools across North America, Europe, and Australia.

There are about 20 to 30 teams in Canada.

Fortune says the sport is harder than most people expect.

Running with a broom between your legs is something you get used to, but other skills take more practice.

“The hardest part is that you have to do everything with one hand. You have to catch/pass with one hand, tackle with one hand,” she said.

That’s right, she said tackle. Human quidditch is a co-ed full contact sport.

Similar to football and rugby, players can be hit between the shoulder and the knee and be taken to the ground by the opposing team.

The skills you need to play can come from all sorts of backgrounds. One of the best players on McGill’s team played “really high-level handball,” Fortune said.

“(You need) hand-eye co-ordination, especially being about to catch and pass with one hand, there’s also a big cardio aspect because it’s a running sport, and you have to be pretty tough because you’re going to get tackled.”

McGill’s team was the first university quidditch team in the country. It placed first in Canada at the Canada Cup in 2011 and 2012. This year they placed third.

Try-outs for the national team happened earlier this year in Ontario and B.C. Fortune had already flown home to Whitehorse by then so she took the unusual step of applying through a video.

“There were a lot of drills you had to do and record yourself. Some timed sprints, some passing drills with another person. There was also a section where you had to include some game play footage from your school team.”

She sent off her video and got an email that she’d made the team.

Team Canada assistant coach Rebecca Alley said Fortune’s “playing style fit in very well with what we needed for a female chaser.”

Alley talks about her players the way a coach would talk about his or her paid professional athletes.

She praises Fortune’s aggressive nature and “play around the hoops” but doesn’t want to go into too many details in case other teams read what she’s said.

Alley said most of the people who are attracted to the game are either Potter fans or people interested in the athletic challenge. They stay for the community.

“Most of us are university students living away from home,” she said. “So we really do become family.”

Team Canada is still working on fundraising to get the whole team to B.C. They finished a crowd-sourcing campaign and are also selling jerseys and trading cards. If anyone is interested in helping out, they can email teamcanadaquidditch@gmail.com.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read