Thursday, June 18, 2015

Andy Cooke Announced As New QUK Teams Director: Interview

With Melanie Piper resigning from her position as QuidditchUK Teams Director to become President, QUK today announced that Andy Cooke will take her place as the new Teams Director. 
Andy Cooke has been announced as Melanie Piper's successor as QUK Teams Director.
Photo credit: Hannah McIntyre
"I'm so excited to have Andy on board in the role of Teams Director,” Piper said. “The role has been incredibly special for me, and I will miss it. However, I know that Andy will do an utterly amazing job. The Teams Department is in safe hands and I couldn't wish for anyone better to be my successor."

The Quidditch Post prides itself on bringing our readers quality media in prompt time. So we are delighted to be able to release the very first media interview with Cooke after his unveiling as Teams Director this afternoon.

Quidditch Post: So, congratulations on getting the Teams Director position! It's obviously a very important part of QuidditchUK–how are you feeling?

Andy Cooke: Thank you, it’s obviously very exciting to be coming into QUK after such a successful season and also at such a young time of the sport.

QP: As Teams Director, you'll naturally be at the heart of the growth of the sport - what plans do you have for the upcoming season?

AC: My main plan is two-fold. First, to normalize the word quidditch in and around universities. So many universities like to see quidditch as a little quirky thing, but I really believe that by legitimizing and normalizing the activities of quidditch teams that the sport can grow rapidly. Secondly, we have so many cities which do not have quidditch teams or only have struggling emerging teams. I will aim to help these places, concentrating on the cities with strong university presences such as Liverpool and Birmingham.

QP: A lot of teams and clubs have attempted integrating with their universities before with mixed results–how will your approach to normalising the word 'quidditch' in universities be different?

AC: I think the key is to use the three big tournaments of the year (Northern Cup, Southern Cup, and the British Quidditch Cup) and make sure we are inviting people to these–not just people who are interested in setting up teams, but university elected presidents and officials to show them the wider side of quidditch. I think with the rapid growth the sport has undergone this allows us to showcase the community as well as the competition (this is obviously just one of a number of plans which I aim to integrate over the coming season).

QP: That sounds very exciting. So, a year after the relaunch of QUK, what do you think have been the successes and failures of the past season, and how will they affect your approach to the job?

AC: You can see that the new QUK has obviously grown rapidly as a body and that the game is growing. With the amazing rise of the new teams, Hooch cannot be underplayed for its importance. This obviously has helped new teams not just coming into existence or competing at tournaments like BQC, but actually shaking up everything. I think in terms of failures–I wouldn’t use that word. I think everyone is disappointed by the lack of uptake for the Challenge Shield, but obviously this was its first season and I'm sure things will be tweaked between the Teams Department and the Gameplay Department to make this a success in the future. This is a learning curve.

QP: You mention a huge growth of teams - as Team Director,you'll be interacting with each one individually, and more generally through the Captains Forum. How will you make sure each team gets their voices heard, and still gets to interact on a larger stage with each other?

AC: Naturally 40 teams in one Skype call would be impractical. As teams grow I can only hope that this becomes an issue soon as that will be fantastic. In terms of solving this, there isn’t a drawn-up plan, yet this can easily be dealt with by carrying out region-based forums. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but captains will be consulted when this issue arises and with the first meeting in planning now, we will soon know where the forum stands and in what format it will continue this season.

QP: You're a very respected figure in the community, and your work at Derby University Quidditch Club with Matthew Guenzel is well known. Are you excited to be working with him again? Do you worry that your personal closeness may be a hindrance in the more rigorously professional atmosphere of QUK?

AC: It’s very nice of you to say that I’m a respected figure, thank you. In terms of myself and Matthew Guenzel, we are obviously very good friends and there is no denying that. But in terms of a working relationship we have obviously worked together on the Mercian Cup together for two years, as well as together with the Derby team as a whole. Therefore we do come into this with experience of working together and if anything that should help as we know each others strengths. But we also both appreciate that in terms of QUK we have jobs to do and that is always the priority.

QP: Speaking of personal relationships - how do you see the close community of the UK quidditch environment changing as the sport grows here? What do you see yourself as being able to do to keep that closeness alive, if it is threatened?

AC: I think that as quidditch grows it will be difficult to keep the sport as close as it is now, but as I stated in my interview for the job and as I'll state now, it is one of the most important things in the game which must be preserved. It is one of the most unique factors of our sport compared to many other sports played and I will be aiming to  maintain this with tournaments having to look just as much at the social events as any other part. This being said, with fantasy tournaments this will always help the community, and I think it is safe to say that Valentines Cup and Mercian Cup will not be going anywhere. These types of events will be the pillars of the closeness of the quidditch community.

QP: Finally, where do you see quidditch in five years?

AC: Very much what I said before. I see quidditch as just being a normal thing for people to do. I believe first-years will come to university and not be surprised by a quidditch team but be actively looking for it at the freshers fair.

QP: Thanks so much for your time.

AC: No problem.

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