[Furballer] The Jackal's Gauntlet: 2016 Edition - Monday

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Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
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Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

[Furballer] The Jackal's Gauntlet: 2016 Edition - Monday

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:29 am

The 2016 Jackal's Gauntlet (3 of 3)
by Patrick Suarez

After brief coverage of events from the opening days of the Furry Olympics, FBA News reporter Patrick Suarez stopped by the Draft Combine to conduct his infamous Jackal's Gauntlet interviews over the course of three days. With only 20 open slots available to the 60+ prospects, it was no surprise that all of the interview times were snatched up quickly. This part features: Stan Shields Jr, Lee Baraquin, Ruqayya Barakah, Baxter Buckley, Tyrone Gale, and Jedrick Christodoulopoulos.

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Stan Shields Jr

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:31 am

#15: Stan Shields Jr
Patrick Suarez: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Mr. Shields. Hopefully you don't mind being called that.
Stan Shields Jr.: Well, that's my name. Don't wear it out. (he stuck his tongue out at me here)

PS: It is rather worn out, unfortunately, seeing as how much coverage your father had during his tenure in the league as both a player and now as a coach. Obviously with all that pressure I'd like you to describe what you do outside of basketball that helps you relax.
SSJ: Well, I like to read, even if it's about basketball.  I like a good pool party and on occasion I binge-watch documentaries, and maybe a couple of the superhero shows.

PS: An eclectic collection, I must admit. Now while an FBA athlete relies mainly on their basketball skills, they have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. Growing up, what was one thing you could identify outside of professional sports that you could potentially do with your skillset?
SSJ: Well... I have a good eye for analysis, something I kind of developed with school.  I know I'm not the most talented in the field, so studying may help me have a better career.
PS: Vying for my job, eh? I see how it is.
SSJ: Hey, you can write.  I got a tutor for English class (he stuck his tongue out at me again)

PS: Hah! Now back to the interview! So for the past two years every potential draftee I've interviewed in the Gauntlet found themselves surprised and taken off-guard by some of the questions I posed. Now it's your turn to catch me off-guard and surprise me with something about yourself that the GMs and other reporters here at the Combine haven't already seen, either in your draft application or during the scrimmages and skills tests. Other than your English tutor.
SSJ: Hmm... well, when I was 7, the Minutemen served me a cake in the practice facility on my birthday.  I think it was Mr. Masters' idea more than Dad's.

PS: That sounds like a rather sweet memory. Suppose you ended up on the Minutemen then, do you think you would be able to re-create that memory with  your own children or would you rather forge different memories and experiences for yourself?
SSJ: Well, if it does come to that someday, I would.  I get that being a basketball player is pretty special.  But... well, I think I'd rather forge different experiences and memories for myself.  But let's just say if I do have a kid and I'm still a player then, I hope their memories are special too.

PS: Indeed. Though nowadays there's so many species and nationalities and collegiate programs producing such amazing basketball talents that it's easy to get lost in the mix. Do you feel that you can rely on your fellow draftees to make the Draft Class of 2016 memorable, or are they just obstacles in your path towards the Healey Davis championship?
SSJ: Well, not that I dislike anyone I've been with at the combine, but... well, the guys that matter, really, are your teammates.  If everyone else is great, great.  Gives me something to shoot for, like Erik.  But, I gotta connect with my new teammates more, whomever they are, cause you want to win games.

PS: Well congratulations on making it to the end of the Gauntlet, but this is really just the beginning, of course. So do you have anything to say to the young furs out there that think they're prepared for the FBA? Especially ones that may or may not be children of established professional athletes?
SSJ: Keep working hard. It pays off, even if it's not obvious to you that it does.

PS: Right to the point. It's been a pleasure interviewing you, Mr. Shields. Good luck in the rest of the combine and hope to see you at Draft Night.
SSJ: Thanks, Mr. Suarez, I hope so too.

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Lee Baraquin

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:38 am

#16: Lee Baraquin
PS: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Mr. Baraquin. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Lee Baraquin: Thank you! I'm jus' happy ta' have de chance.

PS: Now as you know, a small draft pool means a greater chance to be not only one of the lucky 48 to get 2-year draft contracts but potentially also one of the elite 24 to be ranked by my and my fellow analysts. What do you feel guides you more as we get closer to draft night: the pressure to just be selected, or the determination to be recognized as one of the best?
LB: Ta be honest, it would make me happiest ta get recognized as one a' de best, but I really would be happy even if I didn' make de top 24. Havin' de chance ta' play professionally has been my dream since I was a kid, an' that's de most important thing for me.
PS: Well if your younger self could see you now, what would he say to you now that you're living his dream?
LB: I'd tell him dat all a' de struggles he went through were worth it, an dat I'm so proud dat he started down dis road.

PS: Normally I would pose a hypothetical situation as a dilemma for you to solve, but it sounds like you've already faced a lot of problems already. Describe one of the biggest decisions you've had to make that helped you get to this point in your life.
LB: De one thing dat keeps comin' up in dese interviews is when I started in JV. I used ta' be really short for my age. When I joined de team, I was put in as a swingfur, an I was no good at it. I spent more time on de bench den on de court. Mamá suggested I try somethin' else. Instead, I trained even harder. I trained in de mornings, after school, on de weekends, an' all summer long. When de next season started, I was ready ta' play. (he shrugged) De fact that I got a lot taller prob'ly helped out, too.

PS: It's good to be dedicated to something, but at the same time you don't want to appear single-minded and stubborn. After all, an FBA athlete may rely mainly on their basketball skills, but they have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. So what is it that you want analysts like me and fans around the world to discuss most about you?
LB: (the raccoon tilted his head) I guess de most important thing is dat my team--an' if I make de cut, my fans--are my family, an' all de trainin' an' passion I put inta de game is for dem. I believe in earnin' anythin' I get.

PS: It sounds like you have a deep respect for those that support you, so what do you hope to give back to them in return?
LB: I give my teammates de peach a' mind dat dey have a teammate dat dey know dey can always count on. An' I wanna give our fans a team dat dey can be proud to call dere own. An I think dat as an FBA player, I also have de unique position ta' do things dat I couldn't otherwise, ta' help out those who need it.

PS: Well said. And congratulations on making it to the end of the Gauntlet, but this is really just the beginning, of course. Now that you've had a few days to experience what the FBA is going to be like, what has been the biggest surprise to you?
LB: Ta' be honest, de biggest s'prise has been de' diversity. I knew it'd be folks from all over, but in jus' de las' few days I made new friends from other parts a' de US, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, you name it. It's showin' me dat de game an' de FBA really have de power ta' bring people together.

PS: Yeah, there's so many species and nationalities and collegiate programs producing such amazing basketball talents that it's easy to get lost in the mix. Do you think you've done what it takes to make sure you stand out not only amongst your fellow draftees but also the veterans in the league?
LB: It'd be easy for me ta' say dat placin' so high in de strength trials was enough ta' bring some attention ta' me, but I think dat relyin' too much on de' one thing limits me. There's still more time in de' combine ta' prove my skills, but I also feel dat I've already shown my ability ta' perform as part of a team.

PS: Well it has certainly been a pleasure interviewing you, Mr. Baraquin. Good luck in the rest of the combine and hope to see you at Draft Night.
LB: It's been a pleasure bein' interviewed. Thank ya for de opportunity!

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Ruqayya Barakah

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:40 am

#17: Ruqayya Barakah
PS: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Ms. Barakah. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Ruqayya Barakah: May take a while. Still learning English. But thank you.

PS: No worries. There's so many species and nationalities and collegiate programs producing such amazing basketball talents that it's easy to get lost in the mix. What do you feel have you done to make sure you stand out not only amongst your fellow draftees but also the veterans in the league?
RB: (she looked like she was formulating her answer and translating it in her head) I think... I have never stopped doing it. I never had money, and my mother was not... not... how do you say, when they will not help you?
PS: Supportive?
RB: Yes, thank you. She was not supportive. But that did not stop me. I learned very quickly that... you cannot stop, no matter what. (she seemed to consider her next words, before giving a quick nod and leaning back) I have... hizdame. I do not know the English word yet.

PS: All.. right... it sounds like you've worked pretty hard all your life to get where you are now. Do you believe that your hard work is all that you'll need to make it in this league, or are there some other things you feel will help your basketball career flourish?
RB: No. (she shifted a bit, apparently thinking about how best to word it) I tried for... Lebanese league, and hard work did not get me in there. I have other things. I am fast, moving between people. That is what I can think of here.

PS: Well while an FBA athlete relies mainly on their basketball skills, they have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. So what do you feel is more important to you right now: the results from this Combine or how you carry yourself amongst your fellow prospects off the court?
RB: ... I will let the results speak.

PS: Right to the point, I see. When those results are released, how much credit will you give to your fellow draftees that did better (or worse) than you in the various skill tests and scrimmage categories?
RB: (there was a pause for a considerable length of time here as she tapped the edge of the chair before answering) I... do not know. As long as they do not... do not... get in my way, then it is all right.
RB: But... what if they do get in your way of making it in the league?
RB: We will see.... But with luck... they will not. This league is larger than Lebanon league.

PS: Aha, luck! By the looks of it you do not put much stock into it, yet you acknowledge it exists. Kind of like Travis Buckner, though I hesitate to compare him to you. Is there any current player in the league that you do try to emulate, or even try to surpass?
RB: I... do not know yet.... I am still learning about league. I find very... very... interesting, seeing some of these men. If I must answer... My agent shows me many in my position. Of them, I find... there are two in particular. That rat from... England? And that strange coyote in... Biloxi? Those two.

RB: Gotcha. Well congratulations on making it to the end of the Gauntlet, but this is really just the beginning, of course. Now if your younger self could see you now, what would she say to you?
RB: (she ponders a bit before cracking the only smile the whole interview) "There is a league in America?"

PS: That's what I was hoping to both see and hear. It's been a pleasure interviewing you, Ms. Barakah. Good luck in the rest of the combine and hope to see you at Draft Night.
RB: Th-thank you.
Last edited by Stefan Calico on August 25th, 2016, 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: number correction

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Baxter Buckley

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:42 am

#18: Baxter Buckley
PS: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Mr. Buckley. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Baxter Buckley: Oh, sure, no problem. That's half of what this is all about, eh? Gettin' interviewed and lettin' people know who ya are, yeah?

PS: Indeed. And let me just say, you've kind of got the build that Barry Carpenter had, while having the height and being in the positions that Beverly Madds plays at. Do you feel that the comparisons to these two beaver veterans is a justifiable one, or would you rather be judged more on your own skills and forge your own identity in the league?
BB: Oh, well, they're big influences for me for sure, yeah? I mean, y'don't see many beavers goin' out fer pro basketball. But it's an honor to follow in their footsteps, like. I mean, yeah, you're always going to be compared to your predecessors startin' out, but I think my style is a bit different from both o'them and it'll really start to show once I get out on the court. Once people can see what I can do, they'll be puttin' my name in line with them, instead of behind them, ya know?

PS: Of course, though while an FBA athlete relies mainly on their basketball skills, they have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. So what do you want reporters like me and your adoring fans to discuss most about you during your basketball career in the FBA and eventually after your retirement?
BB: Oh, that's a tough one, eh? You mean other than my good looks, yeah? (he fluffed his hair and laughed) No, seriously though, I'm all about working together and making sure the ball gets to where it needs to be. I don't think showboating is the way to play well, unless you're in All Star Week or an exhibition game, yeah? I think you build a legacy on knowing when to take a shot and when to let others have the light for a bit. Or... ah... did you mean off the court?

PS: It sounds like you'd rather see us focus on your on-the-court performance rather than any off-the-court antics or events. Which is perfectly valid and fine, as the run-of-the-mill FBA fan isn't that keen on what the players do when they're not on the field of battle. So how do you plan to connect with your fans in this modern society of instant social media while still maintaining your level of excellence on the hardwood?
BB: Well, to be honest, I didn't have a lot of free time growing up, like. My family was very busy with our logging business, so I really didn't have a lot of chance to pursue much outside of school, yeah? I'd say off-the-court I'm still playing catch up, like; going to college helped but even then, majoring in environmental studies, I only just started having time to start getting into social media. I don't have a Snoutbook, and I'm thinking about creating a Tweeter, but I dunno what I'd say. I guess I'd keep it open for other people to ask me questions, eh? I dunno. I'm not afraid of social media, I just never had time for it. As it stands, I dunno what I'm going to do with all the time I'll have between practices. Probably read, yeah? Sorry, I know that's pretty boring, but I don't know how else to answer. I'm sorry.
PS: As ex-Head Coach Schnitthund once told me, "I encourage my players to read between practices, as long as the books are playbooks."
BB: (the beaver laughed here) Oh, I won't have a problem doin' that, yeah? I like readin' up on team tactics, helps me get to know everyone better, like.

PS: Back to the interview, normally I would pose a hypothetical situation as a dilemma for you to solve. However, is there anything from this Combine that has turned out to be the biggest challenge you've ever had to face?
BB: Kind of, I'm sure we're all used to situations where we're being tried for a particular team, where there's already an established rapport, yeah? Here, we're all starting from the same place, and all have to learn to play together, knowing we'll all end up different places, and in some cases, not in the league at all, eh? It's hard not to separate myself from the other draftees and think we might be playing against each other real soon, like. I try to get along with everyone, and it's tough to remember the more I show about my playing skill, the more they can use it against me when we're all across the country.

PS: Very astute observation, and something that a lot of the rookies forget once they've been signed onto a team, mainly because they're outnumbered and somewhat protected by so many veterans. But I'm reminded of Stefan Calico's three pillars of "Teamwork, Respect, and Growth" and am curious about how you would go about promoting the commissioner's ideals as an FBA player.
BB: Oh, well, I mean, not to brag, but those ideals come pretty natural to me, yeah? I've been working with teams all my life at the logging farm, gotta learn to work together, even if you don't like who you're working with. Not that I ever had a problem with any o'them folks, though, eh? We're all in this together to help each other get better, and I think if you remember that, those three things come easy, like, yanno?

PS: Definitely, and a great answer to bring you to the finish of your Gauntlet. Congratulations on making it to the end, but this is really just the beginning, you know. So do you have anything to say to the young furs out there that think they're prepared for the FBA?
BB: Oh, gee, that wasn't so hard. As fer the young folk out there, just keep working hard and keep your eyes on your goal, yeah? Sometimes it takes the long way around, but keep at it, and you'll have something to show fer yerselves.

PS: Well it's been a pleasure interviewing you, Mr. Buckley. Good luck in the rest of the combine and hope to see you at Draft Night.
BB: It's a pleasure, yeah? Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Tyrone Gale

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:44 am

#19: Tyrone Gale
PS: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Mr. Gale. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Tyrone Gale: We shall see, glad to see some know talent when they see it and take the time to learn a bit about a future superstar.

PS: Well while an FBA athlete does rely mainly on their basketball talent, they have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. So what do you feel is more important to you right now: the results from this Combine or how you carry yourself amongst your fellow prospects off the court?
TG: Well, I'm easily the best looking amongst the current crop of draftees but I'll level with you. I worked my ass off to get to this level and I still seem to get over looked because someone got a lousy assist or my teammates tried to stop me from helping us win. I just want a chance to shine under the bright lights and show the world I'm more than just a pretty face.

PS: You certainly do have some rugged and handsome features, much like another pretty pony in the league already: Lance Cheval. So what's stopping you from doing the same thing he did and going for a career in Furrywood instead?
TG: Plenty of pretty ponies have gone to Furrywood but how many can say they lead their team to an FBA championship and got the MVP title to boot?
PS: Cheval can, though it was DPoY instead of MVP. And he came back from Furrywood to do it. Does that mean a future Furrywood sabbatical is in store for you too?
TG: I'm here to play basketball. If you want a part time actor, then call up Cheval. Until then, I'm here to play and to help propel my team.

PS: Fair enough. Besides, a small draft pool means a greater chance to be not only one of the lucky 48 to get 2-year draft contracts but potentially also one of the elite 24 to be ranked by my and my fellow analysts. However, has there been a time in your life where you had a good shot at winning something only to fall short?
TG: Umm, yes.. When I first started for my high school team, we had instant success, making our way to the championships and we were the favorites. The game was winding down and we had a chance to tie it up with a simple 2 but I wanted the win bad so I took my shot and whiffed it bad.. Needless to say the school wasn't kind to me after that. I devoted myself to getting better and not letting history repeat itself..

PS: Sounds a bit traumatic considering how young you probably were. Outside of your family, was there anyone you could lean on for support during such difficult times?
TG: My coach was a big source of inspiration for me, he told me to not let things like that get to me and just build on myself. I took that to heart both on the court and off of it, as you can plainly see heh.

PS: Indeed. So normally I would pose a hypothetical situation as a dilemma for you to solve. However, has there been anything from this Combine that has turned out to be the biggest challenge you've ever had to face?
TG: The lift was very difficult for me. I thought I had a bit of arm strength but nothing compared to the other draftees. Luckily I feel I more than made up for it in the speed and shooting trials.

PS: All things considered, you did a lot better than what I would've been able to do. And now that you've had a few days to experience what the FBA is going to be like, what has been the biggest surprise for you so far?
TG: Normally I'd say how judgmental my fellow players have been but I've dealt with it a few times prior. Just because I like taking selfies for my fans and take a few extra minutes getting ready, they act like I am not deserving of this opportunity.

PS: Believe me, I've seen truly vain. You have redeeming qualities going for you. Anyway, congratulations on making it to the end of the Gauntlet, but this is really just the beginning, of course. If your younger self could see you now, what would he say to you?
TG: First would probably be "self, you look utterly dashing." Followed by "You are so close to achieving our dream so don't let up."

PS: Well put, Mr. Gale. It's been a pleasure interviewing you, and good luck in the rest of the Combine. Hope to see you do well at Draft Night too.
TG: Thank you for the interview, I wish you well but I do hope I get drafted high heh. I'm certain my team won't be disappointed in picking me up.

Stefan Calico
FBA Commissioner
Posts: 265
Joined: April 29th, 2014, 8:42 pm

Jedrick Christodoulopolous

Postby Stefan Calico » August 25th, 2016, 3:45 am

#20: Jedrick Christodoulopolous
PS: Thanks for taking time out of the Combine for this interview, Mr. Christodoulopolous. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Jedrick Christodoulopolous: Ha! Not as long as my last name, right?

PS: Perhaps, though it's quite the coincidence how much I'm reminded of Papa Nasty right now, seeing as you're both skunks of Grecian descent. Was he one of your inspirations growing up or a player you aspire to become?
JC: Yeah, he was one, but his game was more down low in the paint, what with his size and all. But sharpshooters like Rocky Caracal and John Stoat, now they're something else! And still playing after all these years means I get a shot to play against them or even alongside them, it's like a dream come true.

PS: Well as you know, a small draft pool means a greater chance to be not only one of the lucky 48 to get 2-year draft contracts but potentially also one of the elite 24 to be ranked by my and my fellow analysts. What do you feel guides you more as we get closer to draft night: the pressure to just be selected, or the determination to be recognized as one of the best?
JC: Oh I'd love to be recognized as a top player, but I don't let that get to my head. I'm seeing so many talented furs here at the Combine that it'll be heartbreaking when some of us don't get picked up. Yeah there's some pressure but I don't let that get to me either, y'know? I'd still get to play in the D-League or get picked up after the draft, so I'll be happy either way.
PS: Sounds like you'd rather settle for any type of contract than fight for a spot on one of the 24 teams in the league--
JC: Well yeah! Coaches don't have any prerogative to give minutes to rookies, and I didn't enter the draft just to warm the bench for 48 minutes every game night. I want to compete, whether it be with the superstars or the rising ones.

PS: Interesting. Now you also seemed to make a point in your draft application about your natural body odor, and we've heard a lot about this topic from the teammates and opponents of a certain loudmouthed polecat. Is this something you're using to stand out not only amongst your fellow draftees but also the veterans in the league?
JC: I just wanted to be upfront about what I bring to the game, in every aspect. It's not like I can hide being a musteloid, so hopefully I can curb any potential specism by sharing that. Besides, I'm pretty sure teams will look a lot more closely at my skillset on the court than my locker room presence.

PS: While an FBA athlete does rely mainly on their basketball skills, they do have to be more than just a bunch of stats in a box score or a presence on the floor. So what exactly do you want reporters like me and your adoring fans to discuss most about you during your basketball career in the FBA and eventually after your retirement?
JC: Besides properly pronouncing my last name? (a chuckle and a wink) Actually I would hope to be remembered by the crazy clutch shots that I'd hit, especially the longballs. Not necessarily game winners or such, but buckets that would make you wonder just how I was able to do that.

PS: So for the past two years every potential draftee I've interviewed in the Gauntlet found themselves surprised and taken off-guard by some of the questions I posed. Now it's your turn to catch me off-guard and surprise me with something about yourself that the GMs and other reporters here at the Combine haven't already seen, either in your draft application or during the scrimmages and skills tests.
JC: Oooh... where do I begin? (he paused in thought) So my brother Galen and I once played in a beach volleyball tournament at Oak Street Beach, made it to the third round before we lost to a mink and ferret couple. What I remember most was our first match when I went up to block a smash that the ball bounced off my snout and still landed in my opponent's box. Had a swollen jaw for the rest of the day and the sand and blood really tasted weird in my muzzle, but my brother and I still had fun.

PS: Now that's a story worthy of the Zack Tate stamp of approval. And congratulations on making it to the end of the Gauntlet, but this is really just the beginning, of course. If your younger self could see you now, what would he say to you?
JC: Hmmm... I think he'd say "You're really big! I can't wait to do the same things you do!"

PS: Fair enough. It's been a pleasure interviewing you, Mr. Christodoulopolous. Good luck in the rest of the combine and hope to see you at Draft Night.
JC: Thanks! And keep practicing my last name!


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