Tourney times two for Bergie

Getting a team to the state playoffs is hard enough. Try doing it twice in the same calendar year.

That’s exactly what South Kitsap soccer coach Eric Bergeson did this year, earning him the Port Orchard Independent’s first South Kitsap Coach of the Year award.

In the coming issues, the Independent will name the High School Male and Female Athletes of the Year, as well as the South Kitsap Team of the Year. All the honors were voted on by the sports staff of the Independent.

Bergeson was tabbed as Coach of the Year after taking his girls team to a 16-3-0 season record and a second straight trip to the Class 4A state tournament.

Six months later, Bergeson’s boys team had compiled an 11-7-2 mark and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament for just the second time in the school’s history.

“I’ve always believed in my heart that they could both get to state through hard work,” Bergeson said. “And once you’re at state, anything can happen. And you combine those two things, and I would never sell any of my teams short.

“Surprising? I guess we surprised a lot of people, including those in our program,” Bergeson said. “If you don’t enter into a season believing that you can accomplish great things, it’s time to move aside and make way for someone who does. You have to have that belief in your team and, more importantly, your team has to have that belief in each other.”

Bergeson took over the boys program seven years ago after having taught and coached at Marcus Whitman Junior High. But it was the turn around in the boys program that got SK Athletic Director Steve Reischman to offer him the girls job two years ago.

And neither Reischman nor anyone else has been disappointed.

“I’ve been really happy with what he’s done program-wise,” Reischman said. “It’s been wonderful and exciting to watch. I couldn’t be happier.”

In two seasons with the girls, the Wolves have made two trips to the state tourney. The boys program, a shambles just seven years ago, has rebounded to the point where the Wolves have made three trips to the tournament under Bergeson’s guidance.

“It’s been so much fun, especially this year, because I’ve been able to maximize my time with the seniors,” Bergeson said. “I never want to see them go.”

It’s been Bergeson’s style that has won over not only players and parents but other coaches as well. When he first took over the program, the boys soccer team wasn’t exactly welcomed in the locker room.

In fact, Bergie, as he is called by players and students alike, wasn’t even given a locker until his second year.

But all that changed quickly as the Wolves became known for their toughness, sportsmanship and never-say-die attitude.

All styles that reflect right back on Bergeson.

When Reischman asked Bergie to take control of the girls program, he was hesitant at first but quickly found a niche.

“I remind myself constantly that no one ever said this was going to be easy,” Bergeson said. “Few things worthwhile are. I remind my teams of that. So at the end of the day, when you contemplate the job you’ve done, if you’ve poured your heart out as a coach, as a player, you can hold your head high. It’s not always easy and it’s not always perfect fun.”

Bergeson has always been first to give credit for both programs’ success to others including the programs former coaches.

“You have to have a tremendous amount of people that support you,” Bergeson said. “Parents jump to mind, my wife Kristin. You have to have those people around you and you have to have some luck.”

The Wolves have had plenty of luck over Bergie’s reign, but not all of it good. The last two years have seen the girls season end on balls off the post while the boys’ incredible run this past month saw some of the same.

But the bottom line, he says constantly, is the kids. They score goals, they win games.

Coaching two teams is nothing new to Bergie but he says there are times when questions if he wants or can continue to do so. But those moments last just a few minutes, he said.

“I’ll definitely stick it out,” Bergeson said. “Those thoughts are always fleeting. They’re not anything I’d ever give serious thought to. Like most problems in life, you sleep on it and the next day, you can’t wait to get back out there.”

And he’ll be coming back. In fact, he said he’s ready for the first practice already.

“It’s fun, winning is fun and I’d be lying if I said anything different,” Bergeson said. “And I don’t know how many coaches out there don’t see it the same way. It’s important to fight and scratch and claw your way to your goals.

“It’s important to realize that hard work is the way, sacrifice is the way,” Bergeson said. “Anytime you get to state it’s rewarding because it takes everything you’ve been teaching these young people and re-enforces it. It’s that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the light at the end of tunnel. It lets people know that there is an end to this and that end is worthwhile.”

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