ST. LOUIS – Bradley fans from all over traveled to St. Louis for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, and they were lucky enough to witness the Braves’ victory over Southern Illinois on Friday.
“This is one of my favorite weekends of the year,” said Tom Dermody, an alumnus who and drove from Peoria to watch his favorite team play. “The atmosphere and excitement seeing so many people in red, it’s just a good thing for the Valley. Bradley is always well-represented.”
Dermody studied journalism at Bradley and graduated in 1979.
“It’s a nice get-a-way weekend and it will be nice if Bradley wins, which they will,” he said.
Don Paul, who attended Bradley from 1953 to 1956, was also among the fans in the stands.
He has a unique connection to the university.
“I’ve listened to Bradley ever since they were a polytechnic institute, that was in the ‘30s,” he said. “My son, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter are all alum of Bradley.”
He even had neighbors who were descendants of founder Lydia Moss Bradley.
He said there is one word to describe the atmosphere – “electric.”
“What I’ve noticed here is the sportsmanship from all the fans,” he said. “When you walk around after you win, it’s heartwarming.”
Jennifer Burton, a one-year faculty member at Bradley, is a newcomer to Bradley athletics.
“We’re huge Bradley fans,” she said. “We have season tickets. We love the team. This is my first conference tournament. It’s really exciting.”
She said Bradley fans are amazing.
“When [Southern Illinois University’s band] was playing, the Bradley fans were louder than them. They actually stopped playing. It was a riot,” she said.
Adam Mettrick, who graduated in 2008, came to the tournament with six other alumni.
“I’m really excited to be here,” he said. “This is the fifth year in a row I’ve been here. It’s really great to get together with other Bradley fans.”
Current student Julie Sowa, a senior elementary education major, said this is the first time she’s even been to the MVC Tournament.
“It’s awesome to come out and support our team, especially when they’re not at home,.” she said. “I was a freshman when they went to the Sweet 16, and it could be awesome if they could do it again.”