Returning to the Pitch for Easton Shield

Easton Shield2

The end of the Victoria Cup season saw old rivalries burning strong, glory for a team that fought to their utmost, and everyone leaving with more experience than they had going in. With the Victorian Quidditch Association’s Easton Shield fast approaching, we hear from our teams about what they expect to happen in the next tournament, and in the future.

A. Lahiff, Melbourne Manticores
The conclusion of last season has seen the retirement of several veteran Manticores. Do you think the recent additions you debuted at MudBash are up to the challenge of bringing the Manticores back up to the top rung of quidditch in Victoria?

 We are quite selective as a team in those we bring in, and we believe the person must ‘fit’ with us as a team both on the pitch and socially. We also have a voting-in process for all new players – potential new players need to receive at least half of the votes from the current team to be formally added. With that said, I definitely think our new players will augment our team, both in numbers and in skills. We struggled throughout the Victoria Cup 2013 season with numbers; sometimes we would only have one or two subs. I think the new players will allow us to sub more often and therefore bring stronger offence/defense to the pitch. Our new players are very strong competitors and will enhance our on-field presence.

You’ve been playing quidditch for a while now, and accrued a wealth of knowledge. What is the main advice you give your new players as you ready them for Easton Shield?

 For male players, it would be to pass to your female team members. I see so many teams, particularly Victorian teams, that don’t use their female players effectively. The strength of your quidditch team can be measured by the strength of your girls.

G. Tredrea, Monash Muggles
Last season we watched as the Muggles dominated Victoria’s first extended league and on top of that, claim glory at Melbourne MudBash. Are you and the team feeling the pressure to retain your top spot, and how (if at all) has this affected you as you prepare for Easton Shield?

We’ve kept our training for Easton Shield relatively the same, as it seems to be a winning strategy. It puts on a little more pressure to maintain the winning streak, but for us it’s created more of a determination to win.

The Muggles are known for their great team dynamic, both on and off the pitch. Has adding new faces to the lineup presented you with any challenges?

When adding new players to a well-established team there’s always going to be a rough transition period, but recently we all went away on a training camp and that really helped the newer and older members bond, both on and off the pitch. We’re really looking forward to Easton as it’ll be a great opportunity to debut our new players, who have done a spectacular job in picking up the rules and being really enthusiastic about the game.

U. Bucalossi, Wrackspurts QC
Your team has changed a lot from the one that went into Victoria Cup last year. What are your hopes for the Wrackspurts going into Easton Shield?

With two of our international players going back to Europe, three leaving to join another team, and another four leaving quidditch altogether, we got our ranks pretty much halved. Luckily enough we’ve managed to get some great new people involved. Some of our most competitive players joined another team and replacing them with inexperienced players obviously sets our expectations back a bit. We are going to take this as a good chance for our newbies to get some practice and for the whole team to learn to play together again. Hopefully this will enable us to fill the gap that now divides us from the top teams and make us really competitive for the next Victoria Cup.

What are some of the things you learned as a team during Victoria Cup, and how do you think that’ll help you going into Easton Shield?

Without getting too specific and giving out too much about our plans, I can say that we have learned what our weaknesses and our strengths are. The idea is to play in a way that makes us less exposed to our weaknesses and exalts our strengths. One thing that I hope the team has learnt is the important of commitment to training. That really made the difference, in positive and negative, for us last season.

T. Rawson, Blackburn Basilisks
The Basilisks proved that they’re a force to be reckoned with last season, defeating long-time rivals, the Manticores, not once but twice, and only losing out in the grand final by a snitch catch. How do you think the Basilisks will fare in Easton Shield with the classic line-up we’ve seen in the past while most other teams have added new players to the fold?

Unfortunately the Basilisks have lost a few of our classic players, with Matt moving on to the Monash Muggles, and Luke taking a step back from quidditch to focus on his career. We absolutely loved having them with us, and as they were part of the original founding team, it is sad to see them go. That being said, we are also excited for the space and opportunities their absence has provided us with. We’re going to be shifting things around and will have some surprises up our sleeves. And, as they say, original is best! I’m especially looking forward to approaching the Easton Shield as the new captain; I think what’s important for the Basilisks is going to be honing our skills, rather than growing in numbers. I’m happy with where we’re sitting right now, so bring it on!

With you and two other Basilisks facing up to the rigours of international competition at Global Games, will this experience inform your training of the team as you prepare for Easton Shield, and later, for your debut at QUAFL?

Absolutely. Having Alli and James experience the full forces of the USA and UK quidditch with me has provided us with excellent experience. Alli got to experience a whole new beating game, and James and I came up impressive female and male chasers. I think we will definitely be bringing back what we saw and implementing it into trainings. The bottom line, however, is that you can only do your best, and that is all I expect from my team. I can’t ask them to run faster than they can, or throw harder. I can only ask them to put their all into trainings, and if they do I think we’ll hit QUAFL with a bang.

N. Hirst, Melbourne Unicorns
What are some of the main things you learned as a team during Victoria Cup, and how do you think these will help you going into Easton Shield?

When we started out in Victoria Cup we were inexperienced and unprepared for the tough, but fun environment that Victorian quidditch is. What we learned as the Cup progressed was that working together as a team was instrumental to our success. While basic skills are essential, the ability to work cohesively with each member of the team is what sets apart the different teams. Since Melbourne University’s O-Week in March, swelling our player base to over twenty, the Unicorns have been bonding together with many social events and weekly trainings. This will hopefully allow us to start playing competitively against one of the four older teams.

Your team has a very “We’ve got nothing to lose” approach to quidditch. Do you think this helps you as a team, and what are your long-term aspirations for the Unicorns?

With no expectations, there is little pressure on the Unicorns. While this definitely provides for more enjoyable games, our players are not pushed as hard. We believe as a team that quidditch is about having fun first, and winning comes second. In the long term, the Unicorns would like to become more competitive, and we’re looking to enter QUAFL in 2015. More importantly though, we’d like to bring quidditch to the wider community at Melbourne University.

C. Saunders, Northern Direwolves
Now you’ve got Victoria Cup and Melbourne MudBash under your belt, you’re definitely no longer the new kids on the pitch. Has this added any pressure to you as a team as you prepare to go into Easton Shield?

Since we’re no longer the newest team, the pressure is on to get some victories on the board. We still lack numbers and experience compared to the stronger teams, but we’ve shown that we have the ability to hold our own out on the field, and Easton Shield should be our time to shine.

What have you learned as a team so far, and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

As a team we are reaching the stage where we really gel together and cooperate. The big personalities (mainly myself) have been reigned in, and we are learning how to play to all our individual strengths. We aim to show out on the pitch that our strength as a whole is far more than the sum of our parts, and we are determined not to expand our wooden spoon collection any further!

M. Braham, South Melbourne Centaurs
As the newest team on the Victorian quidditch scene, nobody quite knows what to expect from the Centaurs. What challenges have you faced readying a team to play against six already established and fiercely competitive teams?

There have been countless challenges preparing the Centaurs as a team in time for the upcoming Easton Shield, and I think we still have a long way to go. The biggest obstacle has been uniting a group of players who are not the sportiest people in the world into a cohesive unit. Getting everyone excited to play and train has been quite harrowing at times, but I believe we are starting to find our legs, all four of them.

You could say the Centaurs have nothing to lose, but also everything to prove. What are your hopes for the South Melbourne Centaurs in Easton Shield?

The Easton Shield will be a steep learning experience more than anything else. As very few of our team are established players, this tournament will be the learning curve we need to prepare us for later games in the year. I think we will be happy with a few wins this season, maybe knocking off one of the established teams. But more than anything we’ll be happy to just see some team growth.

We look forward to seeing all teams return to the pitch for Easton Shield, which begins with Round 1 on Saturday August 9 at 10am at Fawkner Park, South Yarra!

 

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