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 Kaley Crunk, coach and captain of University of South Carolina.
Quidditch Post: Last year, there was some controversy over South Carolina making it to World Cup. This year, your team avoided any such doubts by safely qualifying. What was the difference this year?
Kaley: Haha. I do believe we successfully avoided anyone being pissed at us this year. Coming into this season, we had a lot of people leave us due to graduation and such. As the first half of the season wore on, we lost a few more people for various reasons. However, despite our losses, we gained a lot of talent this season that'll be sticking around for a while. We're definitely one of the smaller teams out there, but we have amazing chemistry, which hasn't necessarily been present over the past few seasons, and I think that makes a huge difference. Our goal was to qualify for World Cup with no strings attached, something that South Carolina hasn't been able to do before. We wanted to be the team that proved everyone wrong, a team that you didn't just brush off when you saw us on the schedule. I believe we've accomplished that pretty nicely.
QP: Who would you say are some of the team's key players?
Kaley: We've got two dynamic duos on our team in our chaser line and our beater line. Chasers Harrison Smith and Hampton Harmon are two of our newcomers who picked up the game quickly and have proven to be powerhouses on the field. Veteran beaters Kyle Demo and Joe Goldberg have proven themselves time after time to be a force to be reckoned with.
QP: You alluded to being a young team; do you think that has any impact on your performance?
Kaley: Definitely so. The first time South Carolina presented an official IQA (now USQ) team was three years ago, and we haven't really been able to firmly establish our place yet. We went from winning no games last year at the regional championship and getting to World Cup on technicalities, to almost winning our pool and earning a bid in the first part of bracket play this season. We don't have consistency yet, but hopefully this qualifier will start a trend of successful World Cup bids for us. With a skeptical student body, it's going to be a lot easier recruiting new players if we can firmly state that we're a good, solid team.
QP: Now that you've qualified, what are your goals for World Cup?
Kaley: Well, we'd love to win it all, but that might have to wait until next year. We really just want to make sure that we give a good showing. I think all of our South Carolina teams showed the South this weekend that we can hang with the best of them, but now we have to prove it to everyone else. A more specific goal would be for us to make it to Day Two and be able to have our team walk away without any serious injuries. For whatever reason, we've been a little bit accident prone this season with broken noses, concussions, black eyes, and car accidents, etc.
QP: That's unfortunate; do you think the World Cup being in your home state has any impact on the team?
Kaley: It will definitely make things a little easier on us, and we’re a bit more excited because it is so close. Everyone on the team is happy we'll be able to sleep in our own beds during World Cup.
QP: Are there any teams that you hope to face?
Kaley: In general, we're hoping to get a good mix from the other regions to see how we stack up. Specifically, University of South Florida Quidditch (USF), the Warriors, and the Tufts University Tufflepuffs. We had a very close game with USF this weekend, and I'd personally love to play it again. As for the other two, one of our beaters has a good friend on the Warriors, and I'm told the author of last year's wonderful article on us plays for Tufts.
QP: Would you say the team has a particular style of play?
Kaley: I'd say we have a unique setup that allows us to play with a more aggressive play style. Since we utilize a female keeper, we're able to play with two male beaters and a two male/one female chaser combination. Most teams aren't used to this kind of setup, so it offers us an advantage sometimes.
QP: Thanks for your time, Kaley; we appreciate it.
Kaley: No problem!
Kaley: No problem!