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Capt. Ali Johnson, Seeker
I can back it up.
Thu Dec 29, 2016 15:24

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

Alistair understood that now. He’d done a lot of latter so it was high time he got to do the former. There was no more need for optimism or pessimism, just realism. Because it could happen this time and if his team had the same confidence in their collective ability as he did, then Crotalus had more than just a chance.

Sonora Academy had taught Alistair a whole lot more than the magical academics that it was primarily designed for. It had provided life lessons of many kinds and, as mawkish as it might sound, had been key in the journey to finding himself. Throughout his school years Alistair had been given the invaluable opportunity to open his mind and make his own views and decisions.

There were ups and downs to everything and despite their constant losses, he believed that being captain of the Crotalus Quidditch team (and Teppalus too) was the best thing that had ever happened to him, even if it didn’t always feel that way. Alistair took pride in all he had done for Quidditch at the school. He was in his fifth year as captain and had done well to handle the responsibility from such a young age without any real guidance. Captains were supposed to do many things but their most important duty was to coach the team, to give them direction, and he felt that his fulfilment of such a role gave the team the best opportunity for success. The rest was up to them, and their dedication and effort. It was very easy to see who was committed and who wasn’t as it reflected in their progress. Daniel wasn’t a natural when it came to the sport and had worked hard reach the level he was now at. Shinohara, on the other hand, had always seemed indifferent and had decided to ditch the team this term.

With great talent and devotion so evident, even those who didn’t know Alistair personally were most most likely aware that he was going to go pro when he graduated. Technically it wasn’t a sure thing but the fifth year couldn’t see anything good coming from doubting oneself. Ambition was important, but without the persistence that Alistair had shown time and time again, he would get nowhere. For all his defects, the sixteen-year-old was diligent and knew that reaching such high aspirations was no easy task. Talent alone would never suffice.

Alistair’s favour for the Chaser or Seeker positions had vacillated over the years. In his first year he’d more-or-less opted for the former, on the basis of the excitement and attention that it had to offer. And then he’d stuck with it ever since, for a number of reasons. As part of Teppalus he’d noted the popularity and exclusivity that the one-man position possessed and thus left it be. With the dissolution of said team, he could have made his move but the frustration and envy that he’d felt with Uzume Shinohara in the position was preferable to the greater frustration and envy he would have felt if Crotalus just hadn’t made the numbers.

For the last four years Alistair had been the leading Chaser, as part of the Teppalus team and then for Crotalus. He’d developed well in that position and quite literally given blood, sweat and tears to it. It might have seemed late in the day to be changing positions but the fifth year had in the past been professionally advised that he was more suited to the Seeker position and perhaps he needed to step out of his comfort zone and put that to the test. It was a new challenge and it was exciting.

Alistair hadn’t expected to feel so but the previous night he had felt… nervous. Try as he might, he just couldn’t find another way to describe it. He’d taken a trip out to the Quidditch pitch in the evening, before he turned in early for the night, wrapped up in thick layers against the frosty weather. Just standing there on the pitch, a solitary figure silhouetted in the gloaming, he’d allowed himself to think about everything he’d been trying to ignore of late. And once he’d let himself feel, then he could truly refocus his mind.

Alistair knew that under any circumstances it would have been most unlikely for him to be friends with Liac and Tobi Reinhardt but most of the animosity he felt towards them had dissipated following the Great Teppalus Divide, when he was no longer forced to cooperate with them. Thanks to the silent pejorative of his assistant captain Arne Reinhardt, the Crotalus couldn’t completely avoid having some residual resentment for the Reinhardt family who, it appeared, were inescapable. But this was insignificant in the grand scheme of things and thus his desire to bury the Teppenpaw team was not personal.

Alistair had realised from mulling over the line-ups of the two opposing teams that there were actually very few of the old Teppalus players remaining on both sides. But it had been three years now so there wouldn’t be inside knowledge about training techniques and playing styles. Then again, apparently even when Teppalus had existed, he had come to learn that the belief that he’d ever possessed such knowledge of the former was fallacious.

Ginger Pierce had broken his heart. There was some undeniable accuracy to the statement but it was superficial. Alistair had created his own heartbreak through conjectural expectation. It also appeared that nothing had come of it and it was true that Ginger had never known of his affection - he’d missed and subsequently lost all opportunity now. But however futile and nonsensical his feelings had been, it had all played a part in the shaping of Alistair into the person he’d become. He could regret it for all the trouble it had caused him but it wasn’t worth it. He had of course been so greatly disappointed in how things had turned out, but it occurred to him that it didn’t really matter whether he had misjudged character or grown out of it. Either way he needed to be glad that he’d made the realisation whilst he still had the time to move on and get back on track.

But this was Quidditch and it meant more to him than any girl. He was catching the snitch for himself and for his team, who he wanted to leave the pitch at the end of the match with big grins upon their faces. The fact that it was Jake Manger who was going to lose to him was just a plus.

Alistair was used to early starts but he always made sure to be up promptly on match days. He wanted to completely prepare himself before he was required to prepare his team. He checked the weather first thing and wasn’t altogether surprised the sight that met him. Sonora weather was diverse and not what you’d expect in the desert, and it appeared to like being a nuisance on game days. Alistair received the note about appropriate clothing and charms. He had already considered these things so he thought it a sensible demand. The cold they had to deal with but he hoped the snow flurry would abate before the match actually began, so it wouldn’t obstruct potential views of the snitch.

The fifth year’s mother still kept him stocked up on a special cream that she’d found for his shoulder and Alistair would tell her that she worried too much but he found himself taking the time to apply it as he got dressed in the morning. It didn’t hurt to take extra precautions - even though he was fairly sure that the cream didn’t actually do anything, it could function as a placebo effect at least. It was at this cold time of year that he was more prone to feelings of stiffness around his left shoulder. He was used to passing this off as lingering paranoia, but after his deep reflections the previous night Alistair was keen not to do that old ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away trick that so often came back to bite him.

Making his way the pitch, the Crotalus captain could feel the cold air percolating through his layers and biting his extremities. The first thing he did when his teammates arrived was to inform them of the appropriate clothing and warming charm requirements for the match, uncertain at what point Professor Skies (the stand-in referee) would be coming over to check.

“Winston, Simon, I’ll cast your warming charms,” Alistair told them, not knowing the spellcasting ability of the two first years and not wanting to leave anything up to chance. “Anyone else need a hand?” he offered, just to be sure. He proceeded to set the Crotalus team to their warm up, really emphasizing the importance of it in such temperatures.

Alistair called the team around him, once he felt satisfied with their warm up, for their last-minute peptalk. The captain had made sure to run through his final position plans with the team in their last practice before the match but he wanted to briefly reiterate it now to be sure that everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing. Given the weather, he wanted to keep it as short as possible so they wouldn’t be standing around for too long.

“Évreux, you’re with me today and I’m having Arne with the Chasers,” Alistair informed the French boy. This was switched from the set up he’d chosen for previous matches but a lot had changed about the team this term. During training he didn’t apply such specific positions for his Beaters but given that it was the common style amongst the rest of the houses, it made sense to conform for matches so that the opposing Beaters were marked and players were not left as open targets. He had made sure to tell Arne of his tactical plans before announcing them to the whole team. Arne was the assistant captain after all and seemed to be taking such an interest nowadays that Alistair realised he might actually make it the whole way through the next few years to becoming captain. “We’ve got a new Chaser trio so I think it’s best that we have our more experienced Beater covering them,” he explained. He wasn’t trying to belittle Sébastien’s abilities, but facts were facts and he didn’t have the time of day for anyone who couldn’t handle them.

Alistair turned to his Chasers now. “Even though you have Arne marking you, don’t forget that there will be bludgers flying about and I don’t want any injuries.” He smiled encouragingly, trying to lighten the mood. Although he was serious about this, he was looking at two tiny first years about to play their first match and he wanted them to enjoy it. “Don’t worry about going for the Quaffle at the start, Daniel’s got that covered,” Alistair reminded them. He had more faith in Daniel getting the Quaffle first than either of the first years, although he would have felt far more confident about his Chaser trio if he was still leading it. Daniel worked hard and Alistair was really glad to have such a dedicated player, who had also become an unexpected friend over the years, but he lacked the passion and natural talent that the Teppenpaw Chasers seemed to possess. He knew after watching them play last year that they should not be underestimated.

“So avoid that initial scrimmage and just find yourselves space to receive Dan’s pass. He’s going to give you two direction,” Alistair gave Dan a quick nod. They had eaten breakfast together that morning and he’d given the new lead Chaser a full peptalk then, because he knew that would instill Dan with more confidence than a few rushed words now. “Winston, remember that you’re backing him up so keep ahead, ready for a forward pass. Simon, you're going to play defense so get ready to intercept if the Teppenpaws come our way. If Dan gets the Quaffle, you want to push up with him too though. The Tepp Chasers play well together so you guys just need to get in between them as much as you can.”

Alistair looked specifically at Winston and Simon. “Boys, this is your first match. I’m already proud of you for making it through training - I know I’ve pushed you hard but you’ll see it’s all worth it,” Alistair told them. “Give Dan or Arne a shout if you don’t know where to be, or can’t see where to throw to. Remember, no panic passes. But most importantly, don’t forget to have fun up there. I’m not going to kill you if the Tepps score a goal.” Ideally he wanted them to score loads of goals and run circles around the Teppenpaws, but that was unrealistic and the last thing the Crotalus captain wanted to do was have his two newest players disappointed by the match. Quidditch was such an enjoyable game and he hoped they would love it just as much as he did (ignoring the whole Rupert Princeton Incident in his first match).

“Same goes for you, Makenzie,” Alistair turned to her with a smile, still trying to keep things light. He wasn’t quite sure what to say to her since she now had her own support group and all he could give her was further support at this point. She knew what to do. “You’ve got this. It’s absolutely freezing today so the most important thing is to stay warm. Cold hands aren’t going to function well, you know that.”

“Alright team,” Alistair concluded. “Let’s get up there and show Teppenpaw what we’re made of.”

As the team dispersed to get in position, Alistair quickly reminded Arne to look out for Winston and Simon, not only in regard to bludgers but also for tactical advice if they didn’t seem to know where they should be.

It hadn’t escaped his notice that Winston in particular was looking nervous and, in case his peptalk had had no effect in smoothing such apprehension, he put a hand on the younger boy’s shoulder before he had to go and shake hands. “It’s normal to be nervous,” he assured the first year. “Just don’t overthink things and do the best you can - you’ll be great.”

There was nothing more he could say to his teammates now as he walked over to Professor Skies and shook hands with Liac. It was strange, given how they’d been co-captains in the past, and he couldn’t help but remember the old rivalry between them. And then it was time for Alistair to mount his broom and for him to prove himself to any doubters out there.

Despite his team’s record, Alistair Johnson was a winner and it was with that assertion that he rose into the air. There was no Quaffle to chase this time around but he shot up into the sky regardless, wanting to gain some altitude and get above the Chaser scrap for a better view.

OOC: Mentions of Winston Pierce as stated by his author.

  • Teppenpaw vs Crotalus"Coach" Skies, Sat Dec 24 12:09
    It was seeming to be a regular feature of the year so far that Juliet was sick on match days. It couldn’t be helped, and Selina certainly didn’t feel that she wasn’t fit enough to do her job, just... more
    • Watch out Dill, I'm coming for you.Capt. Ali Johnson, Seeker, Fri Jan 13 12:34
      Alistair needed to catch the snitch today, for his team and for himself. He was so focused, but as captain and former Chaser he didn’t ignore the game below him either. It seemed that the Teppenpaws... more
      • Dill?? Watch out me!Winston , Fri Jan 20 16:08
        Winston was not doing so hot (pun not intended) during this cold January game. The warming charms were doing their job but he wasn't. He'd been charged with playing offense, but Crotalus honestly... more
    • I can back it up. — Capt. Ali Johnson, Seeker, Thu Dec 29 15:24
    • Back in the Saddle AgainNat Varth, Mon Dec 26 13:15
      Going home for the holidays had put an already cheerful Teppenpaw that much more full of cheer. Nat was positively radiating from all the good vibes when she got back to Sonora. Seeing her family was ... more
      • Actions speak louder than wordsCapt. Reinhardt,Beater, Tue Dec 27 13:43
        Liac arrived on the pitch, early on account of the frost, egger to stretch his muscles and quell his nerves. Despite being captain, he sometimes got a numb body before a game. Although if anyone... more
        • You demonstrate that admirably.Simon Mordue, Chaser, Thu Dec 29 14:53
          I am not going to run away. I am not going to run away. I am not going to run away. Simon thought this to himself over and over again, chanting it silently in his head like a mantra. Underneath it,... more
          • Liac is good like that.Joseph Umland, Chaser, Thu Dec 29 17:56
            Teppenpaw was somehow, due to the peculiarities of magical and, Joe supposed, mansion architecture, far from any natural windows, but somehow, Joe had known it was going to be cold outside from the... more
            • Liac for president. Tobi Reinhardt, Beater, Thu Dec 29 20:56
              Tobi had never been one for competition. He thought it had it’s place in life—after all, things had to compete to survive and if nothing competed then the delicate balance of the ecosystem would be... more
              • Picking on the little guys. Not very Teppish of you.Winston Pierce, Chaser, Fri Dec 30 09:06
                Winston was oddly nervous. He knew Teppenpaw was the least frightening of the teams they might have had to go up against for his first match but that almost made it worse. What if they lost to... more
                • Who wants to be Teppish, anyway? (Watch out, seeker!)Sébastien Évreux, Beater, Fri Dec 30 12:22
                  Yet again, Sébastien Évreux had made the potential mistake of signing up to play Quidditch. However, his initial concerns of being passed over had proved unfounded, and once again he could say he was ... more
                  • Watching out!Jake Manger, Seeker, Thu Jan 5 23:29
                    “Welp, this is it,” Jake told his reflection in his bathroom mirror. “Your last game Maybe. Probably.” He gave a noncommittal squint and shrug to the idea. “It doesn’t have to be. Now, you’ve never... more
                    • Got your back!Tobi Reinhardt, Beater, Sun Jan 8 14:48
                      The moment he had miscalculated the time it would take to swing and hit that bludger, Tobi had known it would come back to haunt him. Luckily Jake was aware enough to pull up from where the young... more
                      • You should watch yours...Arne Reinhardt, Beater, Sun Jan 8 15:35
                        The showdown between Teppenpaw and Crotalus had been something Arne'd been waiting for since, well since he let Alistair Johnson of the Arizona Johnsons sign him up for Quidditch back in his first... more
                • Beaters do have the toughest jobNat Varth, Chaser , Fri Dec 30 10:53
                  As Nat heard a crack and the familiar whir of a bludger getting too close to comfort the quaffle seemed heavier in her hands. She needed to pass, just as soon as she got a little farther. Another... more
                  • I'd say we're all working pretty hard.Makenzie Newell, Keeper, Mon Jan 2 17:55
                    It was odd to wake up for a Quidditch match and not have silky black hair presented to her for braiding. Shino’s decision not to play Quidditch this year had thrown Makenzie for a loop - admittedly,... more
                    • I will agree with you on that.Joe Umland, Chaser, Tue Jan 3 15:55
                      There had been a small Crotalus (Joe didn’t know which was which) doing something that looked like trying to interfere with Nat’s ability to pass, but then there was the crack of a bat and the... more
                      • I'm not doing much yet, honestly.Ginger Pierce, Wed Jan 4 12:49
                        Ginger was glad the worst of the fallout over her Keeper get togethers had largely passed. She suspected Alistair still wasn't entirely pleased about it, but they had largely made up after the... more
                        • Can I do nothing please?Jozua Sparks, Chaser, Fri Jan 6 14:03
                          It had happened again. Fortunately, this time, Liac was perfectly healthy and Jozua would not be required to handle a bat in the Captain's place, but he was taking over for one of the chasers who... more
                          • That suits me.Daniel Fintoc, Chaser, Fri Jan 6 18:27
                            Quidditch provided a pedestal which made Daniel known in the school and he liked that about it. He liked the idea of people knowing his name and furthermore, these people (especially girls) admiring... more
                            • Can I join him?Simon Mordue, Chaser, Sat Jan 7 10:46
                              Time did not seem to run normally on the Quidditch Pitch. To Simon, it had seemed to go very fast as he fled the Bludger, but then it had slowed to a crawl as he gathered himself, swallowing... more
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