Sunday, February 15, 2015

80 in 80: Appalachian

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 Greg Astolfi, head coach and captain of the Appalachian Apparators.
Photo by Alex Gates

Quidditch Post: Appalachian has qualified twice for World Cup in its two years of existence, which is a notable feat for any team. To what do you attribute the program's early success?
Greg: I would attribute the programs success to a couple of things. First, we've done excellent recruiting. Over the past two years, we have had a large influx of very talented players. Our players are very involved in campus life and are also passionate about the team. In turn, we attract more new members every year. We've actually grown so much that we have to field two teams in order to not turn anyone away (one team is currently unofficial). I think another thing that has helped us develop so quickly is the experience that Sam Luke (our other captain) and I bring to the table. In 2012, we had the opportunity to help form QC Carolinas (a former official community team based in North Carolina). We played with some other notable players in the region that year, including Max Miceli (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [UNC]), Chris Champitto (UNC), and Steve Minnich (Capital Madness Quidditch Club). We ended up qualifying for World Cup in Florida, and the tournament/strategic experience we gained has been integral in the success of developing our own team.

QP: Who would you say are the key players for your teams success?
Greg: Our starting keeper Trey Pressley has been huge for us again this year. He's developed a really good knowledge of the game, and he's a great playmaker. In addition, our seeker Ancrum Ballenger has really helped us out. We've won a lot of close games, including both of our World Cup qualifiers, because of him.

QP: Both Pressley and Ballenger were stars for the team last year as well. Are there any players who followers might not have heard of, or who have otherwise come out of nowhere?
Greg: Yeah. As I mentioned earlier, we've had great recruiting success and we've had some new players come in this year who have really helped us improve our game. One is chaser Clint Comadoll. He's a great athlete who comes from a football background. With his size, we've been able to become much more effective at driving the quaffle. We also have Brandon Poole, a rookie in our beater lineup this year. He has a really strong arm and brings a lot of speed to the game. We also have our new keeper, Mitch Kute. His size has again proven very difficult for other teams to deal with.

QP: How would you describe Appalachian's style of play?
Greg: We try to play a fast, physical style of game. That is we like to play uptempo and use our players speed to create opportunities.

QP: Are there any teams in particular that you'd like to play in Rock Hill, South Carolina?
Greg: I don't think there is any one team in particular that we're dying to play against. World Cup for us is about going to play the best teams and continuing to improve as a result. Being isolated in the Blue Ridge Mountains makes it tough to travel to play high-level competition. World Cup is our opportunity to gauge how far we've come as a team. That being said, I think our team would be excited to play against any of the top Southwest teams. That region has developed into the benchmark for gameplay quality. Playing top teams from that region would be a great challenge but also a great opportunity to gain experience moving forward.

QP: Does your team have any particular goal for World Cup?
Greg: The goal for this year's World Cup is to make it further into the tournament than we did last year. Last year, we made it to the play-in round of bracket play where we were eliminated by the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees in a snitch-range game. However, it will be difficult to compare past tournament results against results coming from this World Cup due to the fact that the Swiss style tournament is new territory for quidditch. I think now our main focus going into April will be to do whatever we can to get into the Top 12 of our 40 team grouping. It’s a tall order, but our team is up for it. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out in April. I am a big proponent of the Swiss style format. I think it will lead to a larger amount of close and competitive games throughout the whole weekend. Something that the World Cup has lacked in previous years. 

QP: Thanks a lot for your time, Greg.

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