Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Lone Star Above the Rest

By Sana Sadiq

If you’re familiar with the Southwest, then you know that we are characterized by many things; namely, our love of sports. We’ve got talent and fierce competition in all sports, and Southwest quidditch is no exception. There’s a good reason our motto is “Come and Take it.” Every team in the Southwest has a certain clockwork about it, where each operates differently from one another. At the top of the ladder sit strong teams hailing from strong communities. Among these are Texas State University- San Marcos, the University of Texas at Austin, and Baylor University, but there’s one curious group that has managed to baffle everyone at the tournament scene: Lone Star Quidditch Club (LSQC). The team is currently undefeated. In combination with phenomenal chemistry, this is pretty much the most frustrating thing on the planet for the rest of the Southwest. Why, you ask? It’s simple. This team of ultra-talented 20-something-year-olds has managed to assemble itself over the last two seasons, practice significantly less than its rivals, and yet it has placed itself at the very top of the ladder with ease. By USQ standings, LSQC is currently ranked number one, and few would disagree with that ranking.

Lone Star Quidditch Club is a community quidditch team that was formed two years ago, following World Cup VI. The players consist mostly of recent college graduates and veteran quidditch players hailing from all over the Southwest. LSQC is the brainchild of veteran players Kody Marshall and Mollie Lensing, graduates from the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, respectively. Lensing wanted to found a community team following her graduation in 2012 yet lacked the numbers to do so. After Marshall’s graduation in 2013, the two got in contact and tossed around the idea of a multi-city team.

“I knew that was the best opportunity of building a highly competitive team out of the gate,” Lensing said. “However, our vision was that we would work toward building up multiple teams under the LSQC brand after a few years of establishing ourselves and working out the kinks of the organization.”

They weren’t the only ones with this desire to play; numerous players from around the state found themselves itching to play but had nowhere to do it. While a majority of the LSQC players reside in either Austin, Texas or Houston, some are from the Dallas Fort-Worth area and College Station, Texas. In truth, and not surprisingly at all, there is a lot of hard work and coordination that goes into LSQC’s smooth sailing for which it doesn’t get enough credit. By no means is this a group of amateurs; this team is comprised entirely of veteran players who have a strong idea as to what they intend to do on the field. It wants to win and to have fun in the process. Like every other team in the country, it works on its skills and often struggles with its chemistry. Unlike most teams, however, it faces a tougher challenge: bringing together an entire team when the players live in many parts of Texas.

“It's very different,” said Becca DuPont, an active member who graduated from Texas A&M this past spring. “I miss being able to play quidditch so often and work out with my teammates several times a week. It's a great way to bond and get to know teammates. Now I have teammates that I may only get to see once a month.”

Through careful planning and constant communication, LSQC has organized two types of practices to keep itself in top shape. Within Austin and Houston, the areas where more players reside, the team conducts weekly practices. These practices consist of drilling, scrimmaging, and working on skills. Every month, usually twice a month before a major tournament, all players gather in Austin to practice together. This group practice goes almost similarly to the split practices but with more of a focus on situational drills and implementation of game strategies during scrimmage.

Lone Star is, not surprisingly, known for more than just its organizational anomalies and raging success on the pitch. Although it is first and foremost a community team, the players come from all walks of life. Despite the majority of them being graduates, some are still attending college but have opted to play for LSQC instead of their school’s respective teams. Also known as “poaching,” this has naturally brought about some controversy, but among the lies and rumors, there is always some truth. None of the college students playing for Lone Star were approached before attending open tryouts.

“When I discussed it with Kody, he told me that if it was him he would play for his school as long as he could because it's an honor to wear that logo,” said Kifer Gregoire, a current Texas A&M student playing for Lone Star.  “He did understand where I was coming from though and said that LSQC is an open tryout and he can't stop me from coming. The main thing people should know is that he encouraged me to stay at A&M until graduation. I just decided otherwise myself.”

Off the pitch, LSQC is a tight-knit group of guys and gals who are family just as much as they are a team.

“We have a lot of board game nights, we play croquet a lot, we are starting a small pickup basketball league together, and we go to a lot of movies,” said Captain Stephen Bell. “It's usually pretty random, but we mainly just like to get together and do stuff.”

Lensing has perhaps best summarized what makes Lone Star Lone Star: its ability to balance its on and off the pitch relationships.

“I've never been on a team that was able to manage both successfully, but somehow we do it,” she said.  “One was always compromised for the other, but with Lone Star we can play Scatterball before a tournament final and then put our game face on the second the referee yells Brooms Up. I've never seen anything like it, but literally everyone just gets on the same page and knows we are ready to fight as hard as we can to get the win.”

Design by Paxton Casey; Photo by Hannah Holub

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