Sunday, March 1, 2015

80 in 80: Clone Star

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 Dilan Freeman, coach and captain of Clone Star Quidditch Club.
Photo by Paxton Casey

Quidditch Post: Clone Star qualified by earning the last bid at the Southwest Regional Championship in its first year of existence. What does that mean to you and the team?
Dilan: Well, for the team it has given us a lot of relief to know that all our hard work just trying to keep the team together paid off. When the season started, and we only had 11 people showing up to tournaments, we didn't lose hope that if we managed to put close to a whole team on the field, we could qualify.

QP: Can you talk about some of the team's key players? Who is crucial to the success?
Dilan: The first player I’d like to mention when it comes to our success is Eric Bilanoski. He has been our starting male beater since day one and impressed me and the captains of Lone Star Quidditch Club with his growth as a player this year. Our team is based on the idea that hustle and hard work can overcome talent in any game, and Eric is the epitome of that.

Vanessa Sliva has been our only true female beater all year, and her skill and stamina to play entire games without a break was crucial to us early on. The experience she gained from that has been a huge part of our success lately. Add to these two the offensive firepower that Hank Dugie, Daniel Belini, and Jonah Wagoner have brought in the second half of the season, and we have ourselves one hell of a team.

QP: What are your goals for the team for World Cup?
Dilan: The goal is simply to make it to bracket play. It'll be tough to be one of the top 12 teams in either flight, so our tough, hard-hitting defense will need to show up big to keep games close. That reminds me of another late addition to our team: Ryan Records. At Lone Star Cup, we lost tough snitch-range games to Tribe Quidditch and Oklahoma State University due to our lack of seeker experience. Ryan pulled three snitches in our four wins at the Southwest Regional Championship, and we'll rely on him to finish games at World Cup.
QP: Do you think the Swiss Style will have any impact on that?
Dilan: Well, the first concern about the new format is that only 24 teams make it to bracket play this year. However, the style seems to favor weaker teams, and with our potential to rise up to other teams better than us, we could really have a shot at making it.

QP: How would you describe the team's style of play?
Dilan: Our style is pure Southwest physicality. Just because a team is supposed to blow us out, doesn't mean we won't make it regret having to play us. We make defense our number one priority and control the pace on offense to get good looks at the hoops.

QP: You mentioned him earlier, but I would think a player like Hank Dugie, who is known for his physicality, would be a particularly valuable player with that team mindset.
Dilan: Hank has been a huge help to our team since day one. He created that mindset for us knowing it was what would lead us to reach our goals. Despite him being on Lone Star Quidditch Club, he spent a huge amount of time helping us recruit and coach on the sideline (along with Kody Marshall), and he helped me become a better leader on the field for the team. When he first asked me for my thoughts on him declining his spot with the A team to play with us, I was dumbfounded that he would want to leave a team that was such a huge favorite to win World Cup. Having a player with the leadership and skill of his caliber definitely makes us a better team.

QP: What are you and the team most looking forward to about World Cup?
Dilan: We want to prove ourselves outside our region. We had the hardest strength of schedule in the Southwest this year and are looking forward to testing that experience against other teams.

QP: How is the team preparing for World Cup? I know you don't get much opportunity to practice.
Dilan: We encourage our players to get better every day on their own, but we do plan on meeting in Austin at least twice before World Cup and are planning on attending Bottom of the Bracket to get more game experience. Other than that, we are very limited due to being spread out all over Texas.

QP: Are there any particular teams you hope to face?
Dilan: If I had to pick one, I'd say the Los Angeles Gambits because one of our players transferred to that team, and it would be fun to play against him.

QP: Kelby, I assume?
Dilan: Yep.

QP: Thanks; I appreciate your time.

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