Thursday, February 26, 2015

80 in 80: Penn State

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 Collin Leese-Thompson, captain of the Penn State University Nittany Lions.

Photo Credit: Penn State University Nittany Lions
Quidditch Post: Penn State had an effective tournament last year, advancing to the Round of 32. How would you say this year's squad differs from last year's?
Collin: Honestly, this team, at least for World Cup, will be largely the same. First semester we had some trouble due to a lot of our experienced players traveling abroad, but they are back now. Ninety percent of our team has played at World Cup and will be looking to go even further this year in the bracket. With Rob Myers and Robert Hedges leading the chasers, Scott Axel leading the beaters, and myself with the seekers, I see us (quietly) making it just as far, if not further.

QP: What will it take for the team to be successful?
Collin: Penn State in the past has been known for its stout defense. I think to be successful we are going to need to go back to that, since we have fallen away from that mindset. Once we are there, close games against good teams are what Penn State does best.

QP: Can you talk a bit more about some of the key players and what they bring to the table?
Collin: Rob Myers (C/K), as an ex football player, has the size and strength to run over anyone on the pitch, but unlike most big men he has the unique ability to keep his head up while charging. So when a beater gets released, he can dump it off to… Robert Hedges. He's one of the captains (besides myself) and has the gift of positioning; he can always find the open shot and has the agility to juke. This combines well with Scott Axel's ability to shut down offenses completely (as a beater) with a cannon arm and precision even when under pressure rounds.

QP: Who are some of the under-the-radar players on your team?
Collin: One player I am particularly excited for is a guy named John White. He's tall and looks rather thin and frail, but he has basketball hands and quick decision-making skills, especially for how new he is. Look for him to be up there in scoring with the two mentioned above.

QP: What would you say are the teams goals?
Collin: Thats easy: win the World Cup. Besides that, have a hell of a good time. Everyone on our team is friends with each other, and most of the team lives with at least one other person on the team. Quidditch at Penn State is, and always will be, competitive, but theres a huge focus on actually enjoying ourselves while we play.

QP: What will it take for Penn State to win the World Cup?
Collin: It will take coordination between beaters and chasers. I believe we have some of the best of both, and when they work together we are dynamic. But communication is important, and when there is none, it's hard to play at an elite level.

QP: Are there any teams in particular that you'd like to face?
Collin: Lone Star Quidditch Club. Thats easy. We played Lone Star in the Round of 32 in World Cup VII, and were down by 40 or 50 when Lone Star caught the snitch. By that time, we had five or six people out with injuries and we were forced to move people into positions they were not used to. I feel like if both teams were completely healthy, we'd give them a run for their money (five or six is a low estimate; we were down to one keeper at one point.)

QP: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about the team?
Collin: Ignore the early season losses; we were a different team. We have our components back, our new players trained up, and we are going for gold. Also, we wouldn't mind at all having to go through Lone Star Quidditch Club to get there. We had a fun game against Lone Star at World Cup VII; the team knocked us out, but we would love to play Lone Star again.

QP: Thanks; we appreciate it.

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