Monday, March 23, 2015

Onward to Oxford Loughborough Longshots

As part of our efforts to preview all 32 teams competing in the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), the Quidditch Post is chatting with representatives from each team. Today we spoke with Dan Bridges, captain of the Loughborough Longshots.

Photo by Howard Orridge

Quidditch Post: Loughborough seemingly had no difficulty qualifying for EQC winning two of the five tournaments: The East Midlands Cup and the L Tournament, in the process beating out a number of the UK's top teams. To what to you attribute the team's success in just its second year?
Dan: Well no difficulty is harsh on the other teams involved, they were incredibly fun tournaments in which we learnt a lot. It was also awesome to win something as a team due to the hard work and dedication our players train two to three times a week. Our coach, Bill Orridge, has had a massive impact on the team dynamic since taking over, he has an incredibly professional approach and plans each training session for specific issues that need training. I believe our fitness as a team has helped us with our progress in such a short amount of time.

The biggest thing this year though has been having a more physically aggressive beater game to complement our chaser attacks and defence. We have begun to play as more of a unit rather than two separate parts of a team.

QP: Can you talk about some of your most prominent players?
Dan: Bill Orridge is a monster, he can dominate a game with either a bludger of a quaffle, he's worked on his passing and tackling so has very few flaws in his game, when he's on the pitch everyone ups their game. He has an innate ability to make everyone feel good and do better. Holly Kerslake is one of our most experienced beaters, she rarely makes mistakes and has been known to keep bludger control even when we have a booked beater. She can be relied on for her decision making, enthusiasm and athletic ability. Jonathan ‘Farmer’ Cookes is arguably our best tackler and can run through an entire team, but only does this when required, his fitness is great and really works hard for the team. He's difficult to tackle but looks for the pass when needed as he realises beaters are dangerous. Ben Hallam is our old captain and a local hero to the team, he's like Jonathan, but excels as a keeper through his communication. His tackling is often impeccable and he's also able to run through people. Ben's passing has improved along with his awareness and he's rarely left out of the starting lineup. Franky Kempster has a never say die attitude, this is something that makes her stand out. She is fully determined and brings a high level of netball so her marking, passing, and movement makes her one of our best chasers. Along with Charlotte Joseph who is one of our best seekers both defensively and offensively.

QP: What are your goals for EQC 2015?
Dan: Finishing in the Top Ten would be awesome. I haven't seen all the teams in Europe, so a lot depends on the draw, seeding procedure as well.

QP: Knowing that you haven't seen everyone are there particular teams you hope to face?
Dan: When I was in Barcelona, I really enjoyed playing the Deurne Dodo's and Lunatica Quidditch Club, so would love to play them again. As well as that Barcelona Eagles as they're all really nice. Having heard about the physicality of the Titans Paris Quidditch I think a game against them would be awesome to play in, but exhausting for the rest of the tournament (depending upon when in the tournament we played them).

QP: What does the team need to do to be successful?
Dan: Train hard, use defeats to improve, and have a drive to win. We've accepted our weaknesses and used these to alter our style to suit us and counter other teams. A bit of luck always helps as well.

QP: How would you describe the team’s style?
Dan: Lots of offensive beating that looks to target one or both beaters in order to draw them away from the game or out of it altogether. We are very good at keeping hold of bludger control so this allows us to napalm, however we learnt from Southampton Quidditch Club how to deal with a team with bludger control as they did this to us, so we've added that to our game too. In terms of chasing we have developed passing and movement in order to challenge the other team. Our attacks are usually done in cohesion with an offensive beater, however this season has allowed us to become less reliant on this as a way of scoring through movement and increased passing ability. There's a few other things we do to, but I don't want to give everything away before this weekend. We are known for being physical, this is something that I would assume people would consider as part of our style.

QP: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about the squad?
Dan: Loughborough is renowned for sport, and we harness this in our play. We won't ever give up and will fight until the end but have fun in the process.

QP: Thanks Dan; we appreciate your time.
Dan: Thanks.

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