Thursday, January 29, 2015

80 in 80: Capital Madness

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 James Hicks, coach of Capital Madness.
Photo by Flax Photography

Quidditch Post: Capital Madness qualified for World Cup in its first year of existence. What does that mean to you and to the team?
James: It means a great deal to both me and the team. This is a team of veteran players who have a very good understanding of the game. What makes qualifying special is what this team has gone through to get there. We don't have a lot of bodies to put on the field. We didn't have to make cuts to come up with much of our rosters for the first semester, including the regional championship. It was pretty much a "pay your dues and please try to show up" situation. Practices were small, and we had to work with what we had. We have had some key players come and go for various reasons early on in the season, so others have had to step into different roles that they have never had to be in. We have players who haven't played on super competitive teams or have been out of the game for a while, and they have worked very hard and it showed at the regional championship. At one very lackluster practice, I asked them straight out who expected us to be a good team this year. Some hands went up and some didn't, which I expected. I let them know that they were going to have to work for every victory we get this year, and they have pushed themselves beyond my expectations since then. They were extremely excited to qualify at the regional championship.

As for myself, it meant a hell of a lot. When I decided to become the coach of the team, I had no idea what the roster looked like and who would be on it. When I saw the numbers at practice, I knew it would be challenging and that I would have to ask a lot of people in order to be competitive. It is my first year being a quidditch coach, so I am learning new things with every game. My job is to put my team in a position to win, and the team has been unbelievable with how it has listened, contributed to, and carried out gameplans. I knew qualifying would be very hard. My mindset for the last two regional championships as a player with Maryland Quidditch and the NYDC Capitalists was "Let's go in and win this tournament." Leading up to the regional championship with Maryland, my mind was on a finals match with Villanova Community Quidditch even before the tournament started. Last year with NYDC, my mind was on going through Villanova and Maryland. This year, we really had to sit down, really go into detail with scouting our pool play opponents, situational strategies, and plays. How we played at the regional championship is probably the proudest moment of my quidditch career.

QP: You mentioned some chaos with the roster. Can you go into a bit more detail about some of your players? Who makes the team click, and who are some stars that maybe the quidditch community hasn't heard of?
James: Well, when we started off, Chris Radojewski of Team Canada fell right into our laps and gave us a really good option at the chaser position. During our first scrimmages of the year, I'm pretty sure he put up about 80 percent of our quaffle points. Unfortunately, he got offered a job in Canada and had to leave us before Turtle Cup. Frank Gao is another person who came in and immediately contributed with his West Coast style of beating that helped bring the Silicon Valley Skrewts to an impressive World Cup showing. He was a very big part of our beating corps at the regional championship. He won't be with us due to his career of serving our country. That will be a big loss for us, and depending on a few other pending life changes, we may be losing other key players as well.
That being said, we have no stars. Everything we've done we have done as a team. Of course, we have Steve Minnich, who has always stood out on offense and defense (it has been no different this year). This is a group of players who may not be as athletic as the Texas', Lone Stars, and Maryland's of the league, but they play pretty good team ball. Our beaters have held us together though. Diana Martin and Katryna Fernandez have given us great contributions with their speed, accuracy, and intelligence on the field as beaters. Paired with Michael Musatow and Frank Gao, it made me feel very confident in our beater game. They hold our team together. Robby May has switched back to keeper after beating for NYDC last year and has done a great job running the offense, though he doesn't have the size or arm of some of the bigger names. He is accurate and runs a set offense better than a lot of players. Ted Stanton pretty much had a coming out party at the regional championship as a chaser and seeker. He made the most important grab of our short history in overtime to send us to World Cup. All of our players are coming into their own.

QP: What would you say your goal is for World Cup?
James: Everybody goes to World Cup because they want to win. We are huge underdogs; I already know that. But I think the Maryland game gave us a lot of confidence in playing teams that are better than us. You never know. We could make a very nice run. I'm a huge New York Mets fan, and every year we hear "Ya Gotta Believe." That's what we need to do. One more realistic goal I have is to play tough and meaningful games. It's possible we may not get the W-L results we want, but I told my team from day one that I will be happy with games where we play really well and lose and that I'll scream at the top of my lungs after games that we win but have a sloppy showing. I want us to go to South Carolina and show teams that we are a tough and gritty team that wont roll over.

QP: Is there any team in particular that you want to face?
James: I'd like to play the Warriors. I like the matches with history. We have a few people who were a part of NYDC last year on both teams, and it would just be cool for me to see the two sides play. There's no personal bad blood toward any of them, and I'm happy to see them doing well in the Northeast. I just want the match with a backstory.

QP: How is Capital Madness preparing for World Cup? Is there anything in particular you're doing?
James: During the mid-season break, we've just been relaxing. Our players have individual routines that they follow. I wanted the team to enjoy their time with family and friends during the holiday season and refresh their minds. We’ll get back in the swing of things toward the end of the month. It's going to be A LOT of conditioning and play memorization on the road to World Cup. I want us to be well-conditioned, and I want us to be able to study and learn multiple options on the offense and defensive side. Those are the two most effective ways we can prepare.

QP: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about the team?
James: When you think of top teams, Capital Madness wont come to mind for most people, but we are going to be competitive and we are always going to want it just as much. We are going to be that team where people say, "Wow, did you see the game Madness played against ______?" We will remain scrappy, and we will remain a team that always plays hard.

QP: Thanks for your time, James; we appreciate it.
James: No problem!

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