Making magic on the sidelines

Queen's student Jessalynn Tsang becomes Head Manager for Team Canada

Jessalynn Tsang (left) plays the position of Beater on Queen’s Quidditch team.
Jessalynn Tsang (left) plays the position of Beater on Queen’s Quidditch team.
Credit: 
Supplied by Vanessa Kraus

While she never got her letter to Hogwarts, Queen’s student Jessalynn Tsang has found another way to make the world of magic a part of her life. 

In just a few short years, Tsang, ConEd ’16, who still hasn’t read the Harry Potter series, has made her way to the championship of the fictionally-inspired sporting world, acting as the Head Manager for Team Canada at the 2016 Quidditch World Cup.

Tsang remembers the first time the sport was introduced to her. After poking fun at a friend who played on the Queen’s team, Tsang was challenged to try. 

“One day he finally said, ‘Jessalynn, you should just try it before you say anything about it’, so I went, tried out and absolutely loved everything about it.”

At the try-outs, athletes were put through drills, including running, throwing and dodging. For Tsang, this was a completely new experience.

“Honestly, I was an arts kid through and through,” Tsang said. “I did dance, arts, drama, I sang, I was in choirs, I never really did sports.”

In her last year at Queen’s Tsang joined the Queen’s Quidditch Club’s (QCC) competitive development squad, eventually earning her spot on the full team at the beater position. For Tsang, it was unlike anything she’s experienced.

“I had one of my friends in the Quidditch community stand with me for two hours and teach me how to properly throw a ball.”

Despite only playing on the team for a year, Tsang fell in love with the sport.

“I’m completely new to sports in general and I think that’s kind of what makes Quidditch really great,” she said. “You can come from any kind of background and find something that suits you.”

That inclusivity — something that she’d never experienced at such a level before — made her want to give back. 

“Because the community was so open and welcoming to me, and so supportive to me no matter what I did, what I played, the mistakes I made and the fact that it is so new, I wanted to give back to the community.”

After talking around the Quidditch community, Tsang decided the best way to thank the Quidditch community was to apply for the position of Head Manager for Team Canada at the upcoming World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany.

Spending her last three years in a varying of roles within the Music DSC and Concurrent Education Student Association (CESA), Tsang looked like a natural fit for the role.

As Head Manager, Tsang will focus her time on scheduling tryouts, organizing fundraisers and arranging for travel for the team.

Since the start of the new year, Tsang looked for funds for Canada’s Quidditch team. With the initial budget being set at $46,000, Tsang, along with coaching staff and other managers, will try to raise as much as they can through Indiegogo campaigns, merchandise, sponsorships and applying for grants.

“Hopefully some people will just be kind enough to see the need because most of us are students.”

While she’s going to go to Frankfurt as the Head Manager, Tsang hopes to make the team also as a player. In Quidditch there’s no rule against coaches or managers playing on the team.

In preparation, she’s played for Valhalla Quidditch in Toronto since her teaching practicum is located in the GTA. On top of this, Tsang extended her program to the gym.

“I have been doing a lot of interval training,” Tsang said. “Bouldering has been good for agility and footwork.” 

While Tsang’s proud of her position, many find it strange she’s dedicated so much time to a game that arose from children’s novels. But Tsang doesn’t let that discourage her.

“[What] I think about is how I’m helping to develop a sport,” she said. “Yes, its origins were in Harry Potter, but it has evolved into something so much more than that.”

Corrections

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Tsang's surname.

The Journal regrets the error.

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