Senior Abbey Francis still remembers how the first Belmont quidditch practice went when the group started two and half years ago.
“Only four of us showed up at Centennial Park, and there’s a video of it on the Facebook page,” said Francis, the only original member left on the team. “Not our finest moment, but it’s really cool just to have seen us evolve into such a huge thing. To go from four people to having 50 at our first practice this year is incredible.”
The Belmont quidditch team, known as Bruins on Brooms, has continuously grown during the past year in more ways than just numbers. On Sunday, the team will compete for the first time as a member of the International Quidditch Association.
Team captain Brent Gibbons said the team’s overall growth has mirrored other teams’ development around the world.
“A lot of freshmen actually came in this year knowing what quidditch was before. So when we brought it up, it wasn’t the first time they had heard of it,” Gibbons said. “I think that’s contributing a lot to people just coming in and wanting to play. The sport itself is getting bigger, whether it’s because it relates to Harry Potter or if people want to play a physical game.”
Sophomore Chelsea Lee said that the team’s growth on campus came from stronger promotion in the Belmont community.
“We really didn’t do a lot until late second semester last year, but we started really early at BIC fair,” Lee said.
Now, the group has kept roughly 30 to 40 people on the roster. That team will now compete in the league that has nearly 800 affiliate American teams and 14 in Tennessee. Competing in a league this year will be different for Belmont, who played one match last year outside of any league.
“One of the things is we have to prepare for a lot of teams that we won’t be used to. Last year we had one game against one team and that was it,” sophomore Sebastian Baltes said. “This year is totally different because we will have so much more experience to build upon.”
The Bruins on Brooms ultimate goal is to reach the league’s World Cup. In order to qualify, the Bruins will compete for one of six bids in the regional tournament taking place March 2-3 in Augusta, Ga.
“We’ve got to build a tradition,” Gibbons said. “You gotta be good to do that.”
If the team qualifies, Belmont will go on to compete at the 2013 World Cup at Kissimmee, Fla. in April.
While the primary goal is to make the World Cup, the Bruins on Brooms would also like to organize its own tournament at Belmont to help the team establish itself in the area.
“All the Tennessee teams are actually pretty new compared to everything else,” Gibbons said. “There are less tournaments around here, which is unfortunate. We’re trying to look to put together our own tournament here because all the other tournaments are so far away.”
Just a few weeks ago, the Bruins had its first scrimmages of the season against Tennessee Tech. The team lost both scrimmages.
“It was a learning experience for the freshmen we have. We scrimmage a lot but it’s against your teammates,” sophomore Dillon Oman said. “You get used to how we play, and they have a different playing style and more experience. It was just their first notch in their belt.”
Belmont will travel to Murfreesboro on Sunday to face Middle Tennessee State in its first official IQA matches. The double-header will start at 1 p.m. The Bruins will have their first home game on Nov. 18 against the Tennessee Tech Golden Hippogriffs.