Sunday, January 25, 2015

80 in 80: BU

As part of our efforts to preview all 80 teams competing in USQ World Cup 8, the Quidditch Post is chatting with representatives from each team. Today we spoke with Lulu Xu, Boston University Quidditch coach and captain.

Photo by Jon Goc

Quidditch Post: Boston University is one of the most historic programs in the sport, notably advancing to the Elite Eight last year; however, you've lost a number of the stars off of last year's team. How has the squad replaced all of its talented players?
Lulu: Well, our biggest concern this year after the mass exodus of last year's seniors is first to keep BU Quidditch alive and then to instill in the new players the mindset that BU will always belong at the top of the Northeast. This was not easy because we had less than half of our team return, and most of these returning players had little to no playing experience in big tournaments last year. We were basically a brand new team. However, we worked really hard to retain most of the top athletes who came to tryouts, and a lot of the returning players who had been stuck on the sidelines finally had a chance to play. They really stepped up. I think BU always had a lot more depth in past years than people realized because everyone only focused on the names they knew. One of the most interesting things about our team is that we didn't start out having a superstar ball carrier the way all the other top Northeast teams did (like a David Stack/David Fox/Shane Hurlbert/Jayke Archibald/Jon Jackson, etc.) who can score a lot of goals in close games, so we couldn't depend on one person. Everyone had to step up, and they did. We now have Dyllon Carlson, who is going to be one of those people everyone talks about, but we aren't just a fast break team anymore. Every single person on our roster plays an integral part, which is a little different than last year where we had those really talented players who kind of carried us through a lot of the games.

QP: Can you talk a bit more about Dyllon? What does he bring to the table? What makes him such a key part of BU?
Lulu: Oh, well I mentioned Dyllon because he's our new keeper/ball carrier, not necessarily because he's the only standout new player on our team. That said, everyone noticed him immediately on the first day because he's has height and good field awareness. He used to be a soccer goalie, so he has good range. Most importantly, he's become very vocal about positioning on the field, which is great because we didn't come into the season having many on-field leaders.

QP: Who are some of the other new standout players, or players who are key to your team that maybe not everyone knows?
Lulu: Haha. Well, now I feel like I'm obligated to give everyone a shoutout because no one else seems to know anyone on BU, and we're so much more of an equal team this year than just standout players plus a supporting cast, so it's hard to pick out a few people. But to keep this short, first of all Jackie Kos, my co-captain, is so integral to the heart of this team, and she is one of the reasons we are such a tight group and that we improved the way we have. I'm the only beater captain, so when I talk about strategy, I sometimes get feedback from my fellow beaters Peter Cho and Lauren Hoffman. Lauren has a cannon of an arm, and Peter is just fantastic; he's smart and fast and impossible to beat out. In terms of new players, Jon Hauser stepped in for us as seeker, which is so key because our former seeker couldn't commit this year. He didn't have anyone to teach him regularly, but he's improved every tournament. Nick Claudio became one of our best beaters and was flexible enough to play chaser throughout the regional championship when we needed another male chaser; he did an awesome job. Greg LaBrecque didn't get a lot of playing time last year because we had so many talented male chasers, but now that he has the opportunity, he's become one of our top scorers. Honestly, I could go on about every single person on our team. We don't necessarily have that one person we always pass the ball to because everyone contributes. I was so worried that the new players would get disheartened when we got destroyed by Q.C. Boston: The Massacre in our first scrimmage ever, but everyone just wanted to improve and play them again, and we improved exponentially since that first week.

QP: Last year, the team was eliminated by Emerson College Quidditch in the Elite Eight at World Cup. Did making such a deep run in the tournament only to have it ended by the team's biggest rival have any impact on BU as the team prepared for this season?
Lulu: Honestly, I don't think last year had any effect on this year. We're a completely different team with new leadership. We started out this year with the goal of setting the foundation for future dominant BU teams (I think we succeeded). The new players just happened to improve far faster than we anticipated in the beginning, and I think we can surprise some people at World Cup.

QP: Do you have any particular goals for World Cup?
Lulu: Well, I want us to make it to bracket play, which I think we can do. I suppose Sweet 16 would be a good goal considering that's where BU ended up two years ago with far more experienced players. This is going to be the first World Cup for 60 percent of our team.

Otherwise, I just want us to play well and show we've mastered the things we've been working on: two-hand catches, smarter passes, aggressive offensive beating, communication, no stupid yellow cards, etc.

QP: Can you do that with such an inexperienced team? What will it take?
Lulu: Make Sweet 16? What kind of captain would I be if I didn't believe in my own team? We have the athleticism. The only thing holding us back is inexperience, which affects judgement calls on pitch, but you gain experience far more easily than you gain pure athleticism. Our team has improved exponentially between Northeast Classic and the Northeast Regional Championship. At the Northeast Classic, we got blown out by Tufts University Tufflepuffs. We watched film on Tufts before the regional championship and ended up keeping Tufts to within one goal before it finally caught the snitch. I think that game showed that we have the capability of playing with the top of the Northeast as well as whatever national teams that compare to those teams. Anyway, I don't think anyone has paid too much attention to us or are familiar with our best players, which can go to our advantage and frustrate some teams. Actually, the biggest problem will be finding a way to practice with snow in the Northeast, but we'll manage.

QP: Thanks for your time, Lulu. We really appreciate it
Lulu: No problem!

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