Saturday, April 4, 2015

Onward to Oxford: Wageningen Werewolves

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 Juliane Schillinger, captain of the Wageningen Werewolves.

Quidditch Post: The Wageningen Werewolves qualified for EQC as one of two teams that were able to attend when the NGB had received two bids. How does the team feel about the opportunity to compete among Europe's best?
Juliane: It'll be a great opportunity to gain experience and see quidditch played on a higher level than in the Netherlands where quidditch is still young. Almost everybody on the team started playing in the last months of 2014 or later, so they are new to the whole quidditch community and accordingly excited about the thought to see and meet players from all over Europe. It also gives everybody great motivation to work on themselves and on the team. We know that we won't compete for the championship title, probably won't even make it into bracket play, but that doesn't mean that we won't give a fight in every single game. I think our performance at Benelux Cup gave a nice first impression of that attitude.

QP: What do you hope the team takes away from the experience?
Juliane: A lot of inspiration on how everybody can improve their own game, and what we can work on as a team, both in terms of tactics and of being a team on and off the pitch (although I think we are already pretty good at the latter).

Apart from that, I hope the team can also profit from participating in the EQC in terms of getting recognized by university. We are currently using the university's sports facilities, but are not an official university team yet. Representing our school in Oxford should show the people in charge that we are serious about quidditch and our team.

QP: What are your goals for the experience?
Juliane: I guess in the end it always comes down to winning some games. We experienced at Benelux Cup how much motivation we get from winning, especially if nobody expected it. But either way we will be able to learn from every game we play.
And then there are certainly also some personal goals our players have. I know that our seeker is looking forward to playing against a greater variety of snitches (although we have some really great snitches in the Benelux area), and that she wants to keep up her record of getting almost every single snitch she is sent for.

QP: Can you talk about some of the team’s key players?
Juliane: I already mentioned our seeker, Linda Hooijschuur, she is definitely one. She started up as a beater (still beating before the snitch gets released to the pitch), but at some point decided to want to try seeking, so I run a few seeker drills with her during practices. When she first got to play seeker at the Benelux Cup, she caught all four of her snitches, basically winning us two games.

It's hard to point out key players in quaffle play, I think we are at a point where every player has found their role and is important in their way. Of course our keepers are in a key position to keep the overview of what's going on on the pitch, and they do a great job there.

QP: Would you say the team has a particular style of play?
Juliane: Experimental. Which is a fancy way to say no, there isn't a fixed style of play yet.
We try different things at practices and matches, pick up ideas from seeing other teams play, and figure out what works for us and what doesn't. I also don't want the team to get too focused on one style of play. We stay flexible to adjust to other team’s tactics so we aren’t too predictable.

QP: Is there a particular team you hope to be able to face?
Juliane: Actually, I recall saying at some point that it would be fun if we got to play Lunatica Quidditch Club at some point, since they are the other "wolf team" in Europe. And there they are, in our group. We really need to do something cool together for that game.

Apart from that, I think we’ll take what we can get. We played some Belgian and French teams before and had some great matches, but it will also be nice to experience how teams from other countries play, and having teams from Italy, the UK, and Norway in our group for Saturday is just fine.

Personally, I hope we will face one of the German teams on Sunday. I was involved in the development of quidditch in both the Netherlands and Germany over the past year, and I'm really curious to see who would win. The dream would of course be a game of the Werewolves against the Black Forest Bowtruckles, the team I used to captain in Germany, but that match will happen eventually anyway.

QP: The Netherlands is one of newer NGBs in Europe (relatively speaking), how do you see the quidditch world their relative to the rest of the continent?
Juliane: It is indeed one of the youngest and smallest NGBs, and still in a phase of building up the quidditch landscape around all those windmills. Everybody here can certainly learn a lot from all the surrounding NGBs, in terms of both organisation and playing, and it is great to see how much support we get from teams in other countries, especially from the Belgians (way to go, Benelux!). We have quite some work to do to get to their level, but everybody here is very eager to catch up as fast as possible.

Since distances between teams are really small, it is easy to organise friendly games and workshops together on a regular basis. As mentioned before, I think we are more or less on a level with Germany, which is really handy as the German teams aren't that far away either, so there are more possibilities to help each other.

The people who are helping to develop quidditch in the Netherlands are highly motivated, be it on the MQN board or within the teams, so I am very confident that European quidditch will see a significant increase of orange in the future.

QP: What will the team need to do to have a successful experience?
Juliane: Sorry about the cliché, but just give their best (read: 150 percent minimum).
I've seen great development in our players over the past months, and if they can use all the things they have learned from the last tournaments and the practices all winter long, it will be a successful weekend.

QP: Thanks Juliane; we appreciate your time.
Juliane: Any time.

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