Tuesday, March 3, 2015

80 in 80: Oklahoma 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 Amy Kimmel, coach of Oklahoma State University (OSU).

Photo by Justin Peters
Quidditch Post: Last year, Oklahoma State advanced to the first round of bracket play before falling on a snitch catch to Carleton University. What are the team's goals for this year?
Amy: I mean, isn't every team's goal to win World Cup? We want to advance as deep into the bracket as possible. I think the Sweet 16 is an obtainable goal for us this year. We want to prove that a dominant team can come from somewhere other than the state of Texas. We've striven to play as much as possible against as many opponents as we can, and it's paid off. We've improved with each and every tournament we've attended. We want to represent our school, our state, and the Southwest; this is our region, and we're proud to be a part of it.

QP: What will it take to win World Cup, or at the least, advance to the Sweet 16?
Amy: Depth. We have an incredibly strong core, but we have a lot of inexperienced players. Though our new players have the talent and potential to be game changers, their inexperience creates a lack of depth. We tend to set the tone of games with our physicality. Our defense is solid and the best part of our team. We've surprised a number of teams with how physical we are and how hard it is to get past our defense once it's set up. In the past, we've been known to slow games down by using a slow offense. While we still utilize that at times, we also will push and make quick drives to rack up points on a team with any defensive holes.

QP: I think many would argue that Hayden Applebee is the team's star. Can you talk a bit about what he brings to the squad?
Amy: Hayden changed OSU quidditch upon joining. He turned a just-for-fun team into a winning, competitive team. He sets the tone of physicality for the team; the team rises up to meet his physicality. He sets an example, he is the captain, but the team has molded around him and rose to meet him. He's able to be a standout player because of the strong support he has from the rest of the players on the field with him. He is the heart of the team, but the team is the blood that keeps him going. We have multiple stars, but they tend to slip under the radar. Hayden is an amazing player, one who won't back down from any opponent. As the captain, he strives to instill his never-back-down attitude into every person who comes out to play for us.

QP: Can you talk about some of the other stars?
Amy: Leah Huling and Rachel Downs are our female beaters, and they're phenomenal. When they are in together, they work as if they have the same brain. Their chemistry is so strong they don't need to verbally communicate; they just automatically know what the other one is doing and what they need to do in response. They can work well with any of our other beaters, but they excel when together. Rachel is new to the sport this year, but she learned the game incredibly quickly and improves every time she steps on the pitch.

QP: How is the team preparing for World Cup?
Amy: We have two-hour practices three times a week. We'll be adding additional practices as the weather gets nicer. We've started emphasizing film this year. We review our own film as a team and film on our opponents if it's available before we play them. We hold a film night after every tournament, official or not. Myself and Hayden  study film from not just our games but other teams as well. I study every game film I can get my hands on. When we see new strategies or techniques, we test them out in practice to learn how to counteract varying styles of play. As of right now, we don't have any tournaments we're attending prior to World Cup, but that could easily change if the right opportunity comes up.

QP: Do you think the Swiss Style will have any impact?
Amy: It will definitely impact the ability to prepare for specific teams and specific types of play. However, our philosophy and goals are to play the best teams we can. You cannot improve unless you play teams of equal and greater skill. Nothing comes from beating up on a weaker team. Blowouts serve no purpose in my eyes other than to pad point differentials for seedings and things like that. A loss is equally, if not more, useful as a win to a team. You learn where you need improvement and where your strategies fall apart with a loss. Therefore, I have no issues going into World Cup with its new Swiss Style format just because we'll have more competitive games and won't have that "break" game against a pool's lowest-ranked team. Sure, more competitive games mean the team will be increasingly tired as Day One goes on and going into Day Two. But competitive games are what we play for. It's a competitive sport. We're here to compete, not to blow out teams of lesser skill. So yes, Swiss Style will impact our preparation in the sense that we won't be studying film on the teams that would be in our pool, but it won't impact how we prepare physically.

QP: Are there particular teams you hope to play?
Amy: The Los Angeles Gambits, Maryland Quidditch, Ohio State Quidditch, and the Tufts University Tufflepuffs. We've played the best teams in the Southwest, save for the Texas State University-San Marcos. This year, I'd like to play the best from other regions. I'd also like a matchup with Bowling Green State University. We played Bowling Green two years ago at World Cup VI when we were first developing as a competitive team, and I'd like to see how that game would go now.

QP: Thanks for your time, Amy; we appreciate it.
Amy: You're welcome.

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