Monday, February 23, 2015

80 in 80: MSU

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 Ian Hoopingarner, coach of Michigan State University Spartan Quidditch.
Photo Courtesy of Michigan State University Spartan Quidditch
Quidditch Post: So, last year, Michigan State bowed out after losing on a snitch catch to Maryland Quidditch in bracket play. What goals does this year's squad have for World Cup?
Ian: I think the most important thing is to continue to grow and transition the program. After Will Hack and Lawrence Lazewski  graduated, the program really struggled behind the scenes, so our team right now is really only a year and a half old, and I think our results have shown it - we've always had higher expectations than we could back up.

QP: So, would you say just that experience from playing top teams is the most important thing for the Spartan squad?
Ian: I think the most important thing is going to be winning close games with top teams. We've played close games, we just don't win with 50/50 chances. There's a recurring theme this year where we never win coin tosses.  That's pretty emblematic of what I mean.

QP: Alright, so what is it going to take for the team to achieve it's goals?
Ian: We just need to keep playing together, and shake it off when bad luck strikes (like the end of our Miami game).

QP: Yeah, sometimes bad luck does strike like that, and it's difficult to stay focused when it does. Has that been an issue for the team this season?
Ian: Absolutely.  I'll bet we've lost more games in snitch range (or close, within 40-50 either way) than any other team in the region, but we just have to stay focused, trust each other, and eventually we can start winning those close games.

QP: With the new Swiss system, those close games are becoming even more important. Are there any teams in particular you hope to get matched up against at this year's World Cup?
Ian: The Lost Boys, the Los Angeles Gambits, anyone from the Northwest, anyone from the Southwest, but especially Texas State University - San Marcos, Lone Star Quidditch Club, Baylor University, and we also hope to play against the Tufts University Tufflepuffs.

QP: Alright. Are you looking forward to the possibility of these matchups so that the team can test itself, or is there another reason behind it?
Ian: I think we match up favorably against some of them and others are tests.  Your World Cup losses often determine your off season priorities, so I'd rather lose to the best. Or win.

QP: Winning is always good. Nic Dziadosz is going to have to miss this semester of play due to a broken collarbone. How does that impact the team?
Ian: Next person up! You might see some unusual characters playing keeper for us, and some new faces.

QP: Speaking of new faces, who are some of the team's lesser-known players who could really make an impact at World Cup?
Ian: Losing Nic, as well as Maria DeNunzio (torn ACL in September) and Katie Kierczynski (left hand) is definitely a blow. Maria and Katie will be back next season. We're an extraordinarily young team (mostly freshmen/first year players and sophomores), so my answer probably should be "everyone." I would keep an eye on our female beaters (Shelby Atkinson, Kiera Fisher, Meaghan Rea, and Sabrina Alafita at the Bowling Green State University tourney, all underrated), and Becca Pollak, who re-debuted on the travel team against a very good Blue Mountain Quidditch Club (BMQC) team.

QP: Pollak looked good against BMQC, which is especially a good sign considering the amount of rust that players had to shake off at the Last Minute Tournament. Shhh, don't take away from my anonymity.
Ian: She was also on the receiving end of some great passes, shout out to also first year keeper Isaak Willard for improving our passing game.

QP: Alright, I think that covers just about everything. Thank you very much, Ian! Best of luck to Michigan State the rest of the season!
Ian: My pleasure!  I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

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