Team Spotlight: The Lost Boys
Upon graduating college, many athletes face the en...
Upon graduating college, many athletes face the end of an era. Gone are the days of class and extracurricular activities, replaced with the working world. For some, however, finishing school does not mean saying goodbye to the world of quidditch. In December 2011, Michael Mohlman approached Dan Hanson with the idea of a Los Angeles-based team for veteran quidditch players, and so began the Lost Boys. “After graduating, I wanted to continue to play quidditch competitively, the key word there being ‘competitively,'” Mohlman said. “Around the time I graduated, the community quidditch team scene wasn't very strong. There would be a team here and there, but none were really providing any serious competition for the stronger collegiate teams. So, I wanted to create a team that would do that.”
Hanson, fellow captain of the Lost Boys, said that the team got its start with just enough players and now lists 12-15 players on its roster. “Michael recruited about 5 people from Lomita [and] a couple from [No. 5 University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)] and I recruited about 5 or 6 from [No. 6 Emerson College (Boston, MA)], and that was our first ever team,” Hanson said. “We were kind of able to build just through word of mouth to get people to join us either temporarily or longer. We've kind of been holding steady at like, about 12-15 people on the team, which is enough to live by.”
The Lost Boys share its biggest challenge with almost all community-based teams: recruiting. “In college you can table [set up an information table for use during club fairs, or in popular buildings] and get like 150 kids to try out a practice,” Hanson said. “We have zero recruiting ability except for people we can directly get in touch with and see and everything.”
However, as Hanson and Mohlman agree, their teammates who continue to play after their collegiate career are among the most passionate and dedicated. “I do miss the college quidditch days where at the beginning of the season, you'd get to see the numerous people interested in joining your team,” Mohlman said. “But, on the other hand, it's an irreplaceable feeling when you discover the type of player that just makes your team that much better.”
Steve DiCarlo, founder and former coach and captain of No. 16 Hofstra Quidditch (Hempstead, NY), joined the team after getting in touch with Mohlman last summer. He said that while different from a collegiate team, the Lost Boys also create a sense of community among its players. “On a college campus, you bond together because it's just something to do, but after you graduate people only stick around with quidditch if they're extremely passionate about it because real life does get in the way,” DiCarlo said. “The fact that we're all still playing proves how we truly love the sport, and I think that it's easy to connect to people who care about something as much as you [do] in that way.”
Frequent opponents of the Lost Boys include No. 20 University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) and UCLA. DiCarlo said that playing against the two high-ranking teams has greatly benefitted him. “It's been cool playing in the West because the Lost Boys are so close to USC and UCLA, [which] are two of the best teams in the country,” DiCarlo said. “The fact that we get to play one of those teams like once a month, I just feel like it's made me so much of a better player.”
Tom Marks, captain of UCLA quidditch, said that since playing with the nearby team, one of their most obvious strengths was their experience. “Half of the people on this team have been playing quidditch longer than anyone else in the league, and it shows,” Marks said. “I think they have had a fundamental shift in their team philosophy. They are no longer just the group of ‘I don't wanna grow up' adults that their team is named after. They have seen the power they have in competition and have grown more ambitious from it.”
Hanson similarly said that the team's extensive background was its biggest advantage when facing opponents and preparing for tournaments. Hanson explained, “We're definitely not as athletic as college teams we're up against or we don't have a lot of big players. We have a lot of players, though, so we're working on using intelligence to run the game, control the game, and be smart. That's how Middlebury [College] won World Cup V, for sure.”
The team's biggest weakness is admittedly their lack of team practice. Hanson said that because of players' work schedules and the challenge of finding convenient practice times and locations, the team holds one three-hour practice each week. Teammate DiCarlo agreed, saying, “College teams can have the luxury of maybe doing two, three, four practices a week, but Lost Boys, we only get to play once a week together…We've improved on communication drastically in the last few months and we still have a few players who are new to the team, so we're just working on strategies that work for each other and making sure we're talking on the pitch, and that of course makes a huge difference.”
Alex Browne, a keeper for UCLA quidditch, said that team practices are vital for the growing team and that, given a year, “[the Lost Boys] might be damn near unstoppable.”
“They have always been strong physically, and have since added more speed to the lineup,” Browne said. “I hope they've started holding regular practices, because if not, they should get on [that]…Overall, it might be a matter of individual ability vs. team cohesion. The talent is there. It just needs to come together.”
This past weekend, the Lost Boys began to show their true potential, finishing second in the Western Cup and in the process, earning an invitation to the World Cup.