Monday, March 9, 2015

80 in 80: Northern Arizona University

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 Robert Valenzuela, captain of the Northern Arizona University Narwhals (NAU).
Photo by Greg Leininger

Quidditch Post: Last year must have been a heartbreaking exit for NAU with Porter Marsh accidentally suiciding in bracket play just a year after you advanced to the quarterfinals. What impact has that had on the team this year?
Robert: Although we had a heartbreaking end to last season, the results of World Cup VII did not affect the morale or performance of the team this year.

QP: Porter gets a lot of credit for the team's success. Can you talk a bit about what he brings to the team?
Robert: Porter is a seasoned veteran. He has a very important job and does well to complete his job. In terms of the team, Porter brings a fighting spirit that has the ability to inspire the team to push forward.

QP: Are there players who don't get the recognition they deserve?
Robert: Steven Gruenewald, Madi Douglass, Austin Kerr, and Justin Regan are all wonderful players who should be recognized for their skills and achievements. Over the years, they have proven to be solid players who have transitioned into seasoned veterans. Justine Heisley-Taylor, Paulo Pena, and Adam Beller all belong to the pool of new talent that will hopefully make some waves in future seasons.

QP: What are the team's goals for World Cup?
Robert: This year, NAU has two important goals for World Cup. The first is game experience: our main goal this season was to qualify for World Cup. With that goal completed, our next step is to give our players some experience. Alongside the experience, our second goal is to grow closer as a team and ultimately better ourselves. We obviously want to do well, but we aren't putting massive amounts of pressure on ourselves to do so.

QP: What do you hope your players take away from the experience?
Robert: For our veteran players, we hope they can walk away proud of their season. For our new players, we hope they can walk away with great memories and valuable experience.

QP: Are there particular teams that you hope to face?
Robert: With so many great teams going to World Cup, we would be happy to have the opportunity to play anyone. It will be interesting to see who we play based on the new Swiss Style.

QP: Would you say NAU has a particular style of play?
Robert: I'm not sure if it is a particular style of play, but this year we tried to focus more on defense. In some ways, we believe our defense makes up for our offense. Like most teams, we have our kinks we are improving upon. However, I think what makes NAU so special is the natural chemistry that bonds the team together.

QP: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about NAU?
Robert: NAU is very excited to make its third World Cup appearance. We are very excited to play and meet new teams! Also, if you catch us dancing around with our ghetto blaster, please feel free to join us!

QP: Is NAU's swag as good as it has been in past years?
Robert: We definitely have some more competition, but we will be sure to bring all the swag NAU has to offer!

QP: Thanks for your time, Robert; we appreciate it.
Robert: No problem, Andy! Thanks for taking the time to interview me!

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