Saturday, March 28, 2015

80 in 80: Texas Tech

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 Josh Carroll, coach and captain of Texas Tech Quidditch.

Photo courtesy of Texas Tech Quidditch
Quidditch Post: Texas Tech qualified for its second World Cup. What does that mean to you and to the program?
Josh: Well, that depends on your definition of qualifying. We left last years regional championship as the third alternate. We didn't receive our bid until about a week or two before World Cup. It feels good earning our bid at the regional championship on Day One. The fact that we qualified for World Cup means a lot to our program due to our strive to be the best on the field, especially since everyone on the team is either first or second year players except two people. I think that qualifying is the first step for Texas Tech to show that we are here for the long run. But if you ask me, after starting up a new team last year, I'm just glad that our program isn't going to die off again.

QP: Your team has it especially rough, being in both a highly competitive region and isolated. What impact do you think that has had?
Josh: A HUGE IMPACT! The fact that our closest team is about five hours away and our closest official tournament is five and a half hours away in a different state makes it hard financially. In the past, we have lost several players due to the lack of tournament play. Our first tournament this season was at the Breakfast Taco, which was unofficial. We played Lone Star Quidditch Club, Texas State University-San Marcos, Texas A&M Quidditch, and the University of Texas at San Antonio Club Quidditch, which wasn't pretty. The highly competitive nature of our region sometimes makes the lower-tier teams struggle to get better. I believe that teams get better by playing teams that are on the same level as they are. We thought that playing the Big Four wouldn't help us improve, so we decided to drive 10 hours to Colorado to play some teams who were closer to our level at the time. Being isolated has also impacted our playing style; we still play hard, but we win our games by playing smart rather than winning with just brute force.

QP: How would you describe the team's style of play?
Josh: Like I said before, we play very smart. We started off playing a defense that was based about the beater play, but now our chasers are fully capable of making stops. We "borrow" play sets from other teams and modify them to fit our specific skill level. Texas Tech may still be under the radar, but we are improving after every tournament, which is why our play style is constantly being modified. We are also improving our adaptability during games.

QP: Does the team have any particular goals for World Cup?
Josh: Our goals for the team this semester were to make final eight at the regional championship and Sweet 16 at World Cup. We have achieved one of the two so far. I would also want to leave World Cup with a positive win/loss record.

QP: Do you think the Swiss Style will have any impact?
Josh: If they have the tournament set up where same regional teams don't play each other like last years pool play, we would have a chance to make it to Day Two. I can see Southwest teams knocking each other off just like last year, but before bracket play. Our region is sending 17 teams to World Cup, and the probability of us playing each other is relatively high. We have four of the top teams and a high number of great teams just below them. I understand that this system helps lower teams play other lower teams (which I talked about earlier). I think Texas Tech's chances to advance to bracket play depends on how the other Southwest teams do. We won one game and lost game against the team that finished third at the West Regional Championship. So trying to compare how other regions and our region will do at World Cup is down to luck rather than skill. It's all in the air right now.

QP: Are there particular teams you hope to face?
Josh: I would love to play against Crimson Elite again to compare how much both of our teams have improved since our last meeting.

QP: I have to ask you about specific players. Who do you think is key to the team's success?
Josh: First name that comes to mind is Sean Townsend. He is one of our starting chasers. His athleticism is absolutely amazing; he could honestly play the entire game and never quit. His clutch seeking has helped us win some close matches. Also, his speed during brooms up has helped us get a quick 10 points. Our other starting chaser, William Wells, has added another level of physicality to our team. Surprising first year players Zack New and Stephan Vigil have stepped up and set the standard of physicality, dedication, and determination while on the field. These four chasers have lightened the load that our beaters have to carry in every game we play, along with the help of female chasers Taylor Simons and Mikayla Williams backing them up. Our female beater Katelynn Moranha makes great key beats and smart decisions every time she steps onto the field. Our starting keeper Derek Malone’s arm span and long strides has helped us create turnovers for quick scores. His sub, Kevin Tran, isn't afraid step up on defense and make you regret driving in the quaffle. His field awareness and quick release on offence has made him an essential key to our teams success. I've been playing quidditch for six years, and last year I started playing beater. Last year, my team depended on me to create openings and to stop plays, but now that Texas Tech has a strong first two lines, we can start playing to our full potential. I know that you asked for specific players, but our team doesn't depend on just one or two players to win games. We have a well-rounded team where everyone is the key to our success.

QP: Thanks for your time, Josh. we really appreciate it.
Josh: No problem. Thanks for everything that you do.

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