Sunday, July 3, 2016

World Cup 2016: Spotlight on Team USA South Representative Bernardo Berges

By Talitha Brys

In mid-March, USQ released the roster for Team USA. Players from across the country were chosen by an interregional committee to represent the United States, and these passionate athletes will travel to Frankfurt, Germany for the World Cup 2016 this summer. Out of the 21 rostered players, only one hails from the South Region: the University of Miami’s (UM) very own Bernardo Berges.

University of Miami keeper Bernardo Berges ball carrying at the 2nd Annual Canes Classic. | Photo Credit: Nicole Robson Photography
Berges got his start in quidditch after his freshman year in college. After hearing about the University of Miami’s nationally-qualifying quidditch team, his curiosity got the better of him and he had to check it out. Even though it was stray curiosity that led him to initially look into quidditch, the unexpected seriousness and intensity of the sport caused him to become attached.

That was back in 2013. Since then, quidditch has permeated his life. In the past three years, he has devoted a lot of time to improving himself as a chaser. He played with team members like former captain Sean Beloff and current coach German Barrios, who have played as a chaser and keeper respectively, which forced him to work hard and helped shape him into the player he has become. Beyond the standard training and practices that all devoted players go through, Berges watches footage, keeps track of his team’s stats, and develops strategies to improve his and his team’s skills. The time that he has put into this sport has made a huge impression on how far he has made it today.

Outside of being a captain and chaser for the University of Miami’s quidditch team, he previously worked on the Quidditch Post’s Quidcast South with co-host Joey Galtelli.

“He is very insightful, optimistic, and competitive,” said Galtelli. “Miami has always been a team to me that is ‘work hard, play hard,’ and I think he is a great representative of his team!”

Galtelli is not the only one to speak highly of Berges play. Barrios, who has helped train Berges since 2013, had nothing but praise for him.

“Bernie is a really humble guy who is able to critique himself, and that is why he gets better,” said Barrios. “He knows his flaws and works harder than everyone to correct them.”

Berges’ first season in quidditch was the season of the 2014 Global Games. As he was new to the sport and still learning the rules, he did not apply for Team USA. However, he was on UM’s team when beater Shannon Moorhead was selected for Team USA, and Matthew Ziffbeater for Team USA in the 2012 Global Games – was still active with UM. Being around these Team USA players early on in his quidditch career made the prospect of making it onto the national team far more realistic to Berges. When taking that into consideration – as well as his extremely competitive nature – it really comes as no surprise that he applied and was accepted as a chaser for Team USA this year.

“The team goal is pretty simple,” said Berges. “We’re aiming to win it all.”

But when it comes to his own goals for this summer, things get a bit more complicated. He wants to do more than just win; Berges wants to prove to everyone that there is talent in the South region. He believes people do not give his region enough credit and wants to prove them wrong with his performance in both US Quidditch Cup 9 and World Cup 2016. He is also excited to work with and learn from the top players from across the country.

In preparation for World Cup, Berges originally planned to practice with the Miami team in the South, but he has since been chosen to play for the Major League Quidditch team, the Washington Admirals. He is a keeper for the team, which will be great practice for his chasing position on Team USA. Last summer he partook in Crossfit, which he found gave him an advantage over the competition going into this season. He says he will likely do that again to help prepare for Team USA.

According to colleagues Galtelli and Barrios, Berges has more to bring to Team USA than just skill; he also has great spirit. He brings energy onto the pitch and is always good to pump up the crowd.

“As a player he is aggressive, flashy, and stylish,” Galtelli said.

Barrios was even sure to mention how Berges does the popular dance move, the “Bernie Lean,” after scoring. Anyone watching the games this summer is sure to enjoy his enthusiasm.

When asked who inspires him, Berges could not narrow it down to one single person. There are several people who have pushed him and motivated his progress.

“Coach German Barrios was a major influence in keeping me going,” said Berges. “Many times I’ve been down or disappointed after a rough practice or loss and he’s always been there to cheer me up and motivate me to keep going no matter how melodramatic I get. Beyond him, I have to thank my friends and family outside the quidditch community for supporting me so much on my quidditch journey and not laughing too much no matter how seriously I take this.”

“He has become a leader and someone I always count on to be a presence on the field,” said Barrios.

Being a part of Team USA means a great deal to Berges. It is about more than the amount of work he has put in for this moment; it is about taking this accomplishment and using it to motivate future generations of quidditch at the University of Miami and to show them how their team transcends normal quidditch programs.

World Cup 2016 is being held in Frankfurt, Germany on July 23-24. Team USA is entering the competition as two-time defending champions.

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