The magic of muggle quidditch for a 24-year-old

A young Torontonian finds community and purpose through the sport of quadball

Savannah Campbell (right), a quadball player, jumps with her teammates on June 8, 2024, at Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto. Quadball is a sport inspired by quidditch, the fictional sport where witches and wizards fly through the air on broomsticks in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. (Haruka Ide /Toronto Observer) 

On a cloudy afternoon in June, with light rain falling, a sense of tension fills the field at Esther Shiner Stadium in North York. Astride her “broomstick” and gripping its handle, Savannah Campbell’s gaze is fixed on a tennis ball, called a snitch, in a yellow sock. Amidst a bustling scene of 13 players and four airborne balls, she surges forward with determined strides, closing in on her elusive target.

Quadball player Savannah Campbel poses on the pitch.
Savannah Campbell, a quadball player, holds a PVC pipe representing the broomsticks used by witches and wizards in the Harry Potter series. Campbell participated in a game against the Cleveland Riff as both the Toronto Raiders’ seeker and chaser at Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto on June 8, 2024. (Haruka Ide/Toronto Observer)

Campbell, 24, is playing quadball, a sport inspired by quidditch, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Designed for “muggles,” (non-magical people), players hold a PVC pipe between their legs throughout the game, emulating the experience of flying on a broomstick.

Quadball is a full-contact sport that mixes elements of handball, dodgeball, and rugby. There are four positions in quadball: chaser, beater, keeper, and seeker.

Keepers guard the hoops against opposing chasers, while the beaters throw dodgeballs to force opponents back to their hoops. Campbell is a chaser, who throws a volleyball, called a quadball, through the opposing team’s hoops to score goals worth 10 points each. Additionally, she acts as a seeker, aiming to catch the flag runner with the snitch. A successful snitch catch by the seeker scores 30 points and ends the game.

WATCH | Witches and wizards play quidditch :

Competing for Team Canada in quadball, Campbell is excited to have achieved this personal goal as they prepare for the Quadball Nations Cup in Spain this October.

WATCH | Learn how to play quadball :

The place she calls “home”

Campbell grew up in Elmira, Ont. before moving to Canada’s capital city to study biology and creative writing at the University of Ottawa.

After relocating to Toronto in 2022, Campbell faced challenges with job hunting and was recovering from a concussion. During this uncertain time, quadball provided a supportive environment.

She describes Toronto’s quadball community as “the best group of people [she] could have ever met.”

“Every time I go to practice, every time I go to a tournament, it’s home,” said Campbell. 

Quadball is a gender-inclusive sport that promotes diversity by capping a team to no more than four players of the same gender, with all players’ preferred pronouns confirmed before the game begins.

“Being able to provide that opportunity to athletes that are historically excluded from some of those spaces is a privilege to be able to do,” said Campbell.

Sinan Keyder, head coach of Campbell’s team, the Toronto Raiders, said the players’ diverse backgrounds and skills contribute to its strong community.

“There’s a great blend of good parts of each sport, and there are things that everyone is good at and everyone is bad at. So, it’s very welcoming in that sense and we all learn from each other,” he said.

A coach stands on the field and gives feedback to the team members.
Sinan Keyder, head coach of the Toronto Raiders, gives feedback to the team on June 8, 2024, at Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto. (Haruka Ide/Toronto Observer)

“There’s always someone to talk to, there’s always someone listening,” said Campbell. The quadball community has taught her not to be afraid to support each other.

Growing together with other athletes

Keyder highlights Campbell’s speed, rooted in her running background, and her keen vision, which enables her to recognize plays. She has developed these skills by playing various positions on multiple teams.

Keyder said Campbell uses her running expertise to assist her teammates. She also runs skills clinics where players learn from each other’s sports backgrounds.

“She finds her voice a lot more, she’s loud, and she’s confident,” said Keyder. 

WATCH | Campbell shares how she navigates change through quadball :

Bridging the gap between unseen players and quadball 

Quadball was invented in the U.S. in 2005, and 10 teams competed in the 2024 National Championship in Canada last March, said Alex Downey-Ging, the membership director at Quadball Canada. Downey-Ging emphasized the significance of Campbell’s contributions to quadball off the field. 

“She’s a good, almost like a salesperson, and she makes a good pitch to show you why it’s fun and why you would want to play or watch,” said Downey-Ging.

Campbell says she wants to continue supporting other athletes while raising awareness about quadball. She has worked to create a safe community and development opportunities to support them.

“I know people have my back, and that’s been key for my safety and my mental health as well,” she said.

A quadball player puts her arms around her teammates' shoulders on the field.
Savannah Campbell (centre), a quadball player, puts her arms around her teammates’ shoulders on June 8, 2024, at Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto. She and her teammates cheer on their team on the field together. (Haruka Ide/Toronto Observer)

Celebrating another triumphant moment with her teammates on that rainy day, Campbell raises her right hand high in the air, clutching the snitch. The Toronto Raiders win! Her teammates cheer and rush over to her. In this community of support, she finds herself exactly where she belongs.

WATCH | Campbell shares the charm of quadball and the community :

About this article

Posted: Jun 18 2024 8:00 pm
Filed under: Features Profiles Sports