Saturday, February 21, 2015

80 in 80: George Mason

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 Robby May, coach of George Mason University.

Photo by Flax Photography
QP: George Mason qualified for its first ever World Cup. What does that mean for you and the team?
Robby: It means all of our hard work paid off. The recruiting, the two-a-days, the video/strategy sessions, the rainy and cold practices, the team bonding, all of it helped us in qualifying for World Cup. It's just a huge motivation to every player to buckle down and continue to work hard in the months leading up to World Cup.

QP: We're now around three months away from World Cup. How will you be preparing in this time window?
Robby: Playing other teams is one of the best ways to improve. We're currently talking with Maryland Quidditch (UMD) and Capital Madness Quidditch Club about setting up scrimmages to take advantage of local World Cup-qualified teams, like Boston teams always have in the past. 

We'll also be looking into becoming a more versatile team, trying to improve the team's quidditch IQ with more video and whiteboard sessions and learning different offensive and defensive strategies. GMU currently doesn't have the size of Texas-based teams or the passing game of teams like UMD and Ohio State Quidditch, but that doesn't stop us from playing smart. New York University Nundu and other teams have proved this season that strategy and versatility can be a strong weapon. Other sports, like basketball, change strategies mid-game (e.g. changing defenses between zones, man-to-man, and box-and-1) to exploit opponents’ weaknesses. If we're looking to make a splash at WC this year, this is how we will do it.

Besides that, we’re just focusing on fundamentals. Improved throwing, catching, and shooting will minimize offensive turnovers and improve the efficiency of our possessions

QP: George Mason is one of the least experienced teams to qualify for World Cup so far this year, as such many of its players are not well-known. Who would you say are the team's standouts?
Robby: There really aren't just two or three standout players like what you'd find on a normal first year team. GMU instead has depth that goes pretty deep into its bench, allowing for little drop-off when subs are made in games. To me, that is more valuable than standout players, especially during long tournaments with the potential for injuries and worn out players.
QP: You recently added Chris Pavlovych from the Warriors in a transfer. What will he mean to the team?
Robby: Chris adds a new dimension to our beating game. I don’t want to give too much away, but I played with him on the NYDC Capitalists and he is always working hard to go above and beyond when he’s on the pitch. He also plays at a level above the rest of our beaters, which adds the depth we’ve been in need of in our beating game. GMU made it to World Cup without the Warriors’ former starting beater, and I’m excited to see what we can do with him on the team; I know he’s going to be a positive addition and has already meshed well in recent practices.
QP: Would you say that there are any players who the quidditch community doesn't yet know that maybe they should?
Robby: Not at the moment, but there is a lot of young talent we've recruited with a lot of potential on the team. We don't currently have what some might call starpower, though; we have no Max Miceli,Tony Rodriguez, or Drew Wasikowski type of players.

QP: Does the team have any particular goals for World Cup?
Robby: To be honest, making it to WC this year was our goal. Now that we've made it, our new goal is to go 3-2.  It's a bit of a stretch, but I think if we work hard and get the right matchups, we have a shot at it.

QP: Can you talk a bit about a few individual players and what they bring to the pitch for Mason?
Robby: To be honest, I'd prefer not to single out players on my team. I value every player, and they each bring a unique set of strengths and weakness when they step onto the field. It wouldn't be fair to the rest to only talk about a few.

QP: Is there a particular team that GMU hopes to play?
Robby: No one in particular. From a growth standpoint, the more out-of-region experience we can get, the better. So far this season, the only out-of-region teams we've played have been Syracuse University Quidditch Club and the Ohio University Flying Bobcats, both of which narrowly missed qualifying for World Cup this year. With the new Swiss system in place, I think we'll get our wish. And even better, with the change to the Swiss system, we're more likely to play more games against teams around our caliber.

QP: I think that covers it. Thank you so much for your time.

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