Mirsha Grelinek: An Interview
All of Neopia is practically buzzing in anticipation for the Altador Cup. Last year, Virtupets Space Station took the gold, but many Neopians were instead gossiping about a certain team's fall from grace. Team Shenkuu, who had gained impressive scores in the second, third, and fourth Altador Cups, had recently taken a turn for the worse. In Y12, they ranked eleventh place out of eighteen places, and in Y13, they ranked tenth place, a surprising change of events for their large number of fans.
I recently have had the pleasure of meeting Mirsha Grelinek, star captain of Team Shenkuu. I was interested to hear her strategy for turning the team around this year, and Miss Grelinek happily obliged me for an interview.
Me: Hello, Miss Grelinek! Thank you for agreeing to meet with me.
Mirsha Grelinek: It's my pleasure. I'm happy to do anything to pump up our fans for Altador Cup VII!
Me: So, if you don't mind, I'll just start off with my first question.
MG: (Nods.) I don't mind at all.
Me: How do you feel about last year's standings in the Altador Cup?
MG: Obviously, it was a bit of a blow. Sure, the year before we had finished in eleventh, but I suppose that we hoped that we could be restored to that glory we had in the second Altador Cup. Instead, we finished in tenth.
Me: Why do you think that is?
MG: This is always a fun topic. (Laughs.) I'll admit, we've always been kind of an inconsistent team. When we excel at Yooyuball, we're dreadful at Slushie Slinger. When we're amazing at Slushie Slinger, we're horrible at Shootout Showdown. It varies drastically each year, honestly. However, some Neopians have blamed our recent standings on Turo [Rafels] leaving after Altador Cup II.
Me: He was replaced by Larcy Phu as Right Defender, correct?
MG: That's right. Some have speculated that Larcy's tendency to play dirty could even be to blame.
Me: Do you agree with them?
MG: I have to say that I don't. Larcy isn't perfect, nobody is, but he's been on Team Shenkuu for a while and has always had my back. Besides, we received very good standings in the two Altador Cups after that, so I think that the cause is something else that we haven't thought of yet.
Me: Let's move on.
MG: Please! (Laughs.)
Me: What teams are you excited about facing this year?
MG: Of course, we're excited to play Virtupets. It's always exhilarating when you play last year's winner, albeit a little scary! Other than Virtupets, I'd have to say that Krawk Island will be interesting to play. They're always favorites-to-win.
Me: Do you feel confident about this year's Altador Cup?
MG: I always have to feel confident about the upcoming season, or else I wouldn't make a good captain. But more than ever, I feel confident about my teammates. Xana [DiLanche] has gotten a lot more experience, and I think that her nerves won't get the best of her this year. Antola [Maeir] is always great to play with, mostly because of his speed. He's helped score a lot of goals in the past, and I love having him on my team.
Me: Returning to the topic of Turo Rafels... do you miss having him as a player on your team?
MG: This is just my opinion, but I've always felt that Turo was kind of distant. He never really talked at practices and had a nasty tendency to cheat. Plus, he had always been kind of a bully to Xana [DiLanche], just because she was a young player. But he was gone soon enough, so it's not really worth wasting my breath.
Me: How has your training in Shenkuu gone this year?
MG: Very well, actually! I've been working on my weaknesses, building up my strength and the like. My team as a whole has been working on consistency in their plays, and sweet Xana [DiLanche] has been busy overcoming her nerves. I'd say that she's come a long way, and that we should definitely be considered as serious contenders in this year's Altador Cup.
Me: How do you feel about your fan base this year? Do you think that they'll be supportive?
MG: Our fans are always supportive, even when we have a down season. After all, despite our inconsistency, Shenkuu is still a powerhouse! (Laughs.) But I don't like to boast. I know for sure that our fan base will support us and play hard.
Me: What do you think of the nickname that TNT has coined your team? The, er, "Surprising Squad from Shenkuu"?
MG: Are people still calling us that? (Laughs.) I don't really feel either way about it, but it does always remind me of Altador Cup II.
Me: Ah, that's a good memory.
MG: It sure is! But I prefer our nickname on the neoboards; it seems that Neopians have started calling us "ninjas." I think that probably applies to Foltaggio and Antola [Maeir], but not me!
Me: Oh no, Mirsha, I'm sure they're talking about you!
MG: You flatter me.
Me: Do you think we'll be seeing more of the ShenRoo alliance this year?
MG: I hope so! Lilo [Blumario] and I have been seeing a lot of each other during this training season, so I think Shenkuu's alliance with Roo Island will live on.
Me: So, just to clarify to our readers, how did the ShenRoo alliance officially begin?
MG: How does any alliance begin? Shenkuu and Roo Island have always been on good terms. Shenkuu is peaceful and tries to extend the hand of friendship to all other nations. And Roo Island... well, they know how to throw a party. Together, we get along terrifically well. Plus, I believe that if the Rooligans and the ninjas were pitted against each other, it would break up many a neofriend.
Me: I'm afraid that's all the time we have for now, Mirsha. Thanks again for letting me interview you.
MG: No problem! If you ever need a story, I think that Xana [DiLanche] or Lilo [Blumario] would be more than happy to be interviewed as well.