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 Mark Williard, head coach of Baylor University.
Photo by Kevin Freeman
Quidditch Post: Baylor has perpetually been one of the most successful teams in the Southwest, reaching the semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last year. To what do you attribute the team's constant success?
Mark: We are a very close-knit group, and that attributes a lot to our ability to play as a team. We have a lot of skilled players who make us a good team, but it's the way we play together that makes us a great team.
QP: Baylor is known for a distinctive style; can you talk a bit about the so-called "Baylor Defense?"
Mark: Not much to say. Everyone seems to know a lot about it. Man defense is exhausting, and we only have so much athleticism on our team, so we run a zone.
QP: Baylor has several tremendously talented players; can you talk about a few of the key contributors?
Mark: One thing that's great is that we don't have to rely on just a few people to get the job done; everyone is capable. So here are some of our talented players that people may not know about: Hannah Johns—she is the perfect complement to Brittany Ripperger and a lot feistier than you'd think; Michael Barnard—he can play any position and not only manage the game, but make a big difference; Matt Blair—he has been our starting seeker for a long time, has a lot of clutch grabs, and has somehow gone widely unrecognized by the community.
QP: Then of course there are players like Trent Miller, David Gilbert, Jacob Bruner, Brittany, and Reed Marchman (just to name a few). Can you talk a bit about what they bring to the team?
Mark: In addition to their skillsets, they bring a lot of quidditch experience, and with that a lot of passion and heart to the team.
QP: I'd venture that Baylor is one of the more experienced teams entering World Cup. What impact do you think that will have?
Mark: I'd hope that to be true, but with so many players staying with the sport after graduation, there are lots of players with more experience than our team. We brought in a very talented freshman class this year, who have already learned so much from our senior leaders, and they will get the better of anyone who underestimates them.
QP: Your team had some injuries to key players at the regional championship. Is there anything that will impact the team as it prepares for World Cup?
Mark: Injuries are unfortunately a part of the game for all teams. They are definitely nothing new for us, so our preparation for World Cup won't change much.
QP: What are your team's goals for World Cup?
Mark: To win the tournament.
QP: What will that take?
Mark: Ten percent luck, 20 percent skill, 15 percent concentrated power of will, five percent pleasure, and 50 percent pain. You know the rest.
QP: So my takeaway is that we're going to have 100 percent reason to remember your name. Can you talk about a few of your freshmen? Who will be the next torchbearers of Baylor Quidditch?
Mark: Indeed. Pearson Reese has an arm for powerful beats, and Brock Boyd is a lot faster and stronger than you'd think.
QP: Are there any teams in particular you hope to face?
Mark: I'm originally from Maryland, and I grew up rooting for the Maryland Terrapins. We have always admired Maryland Quidditch's playing style. We are ready to face any team we must, but having the opportunity to play Maryland would be fun.
QP: Outside of the renowned Baylor zone, would you say the team has a particular style of play?
Mark: Yeah. I think every team has a style to them. I wouldn't describe it any way other than "We are Baylor."
QP: Anything else you think our readers should know about Baylor?
Mark: "The hotter the heat, the harder the steel. No pressure, no diamonds. We compete, we win, we are Baylor. Baylor we are, and Baylor we'll always be. But it's up to us to define what that means."
QP: Thanks, Mark; we appreciate your time.