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South Kitsap Soccer: Bergie’s candor cuts deep | Column

Eric Bergeson, who guided SK’s boys soccer team to a 110-56-22 record in 11 seasons, recently made critical remarks toward school administrators - Jesse Beals/File Photo
Eric Bergeson, who guided SK’s boys soccer team to a 110-56-22 record in 11 seasons, recently made critical remarks toward school administrators
— image credit: Jesse Beals/File Photo

Eric Bergeson’s record leaves little debate about his legacy as South Kitsap’s soccer coach.

During his tenure as the boys and girls coach, Bergeson guided the programs to 10 state playoff appearances. Prior to his run, the boys program reached that level twice in school history; the girls only went to state once before.

But after 11 years of leading South Kitsap’s boys, Bergeson decided to step down in June. In the weeks leading up to his decision, he mentioned that it was important to spend more time with his wife and young son.

Bergeson was on a family vacation in Chelan when news broke of his resignation, and he declined comment.

A reporter at the Kitsap Sun said attempts to reach him during the summer were unsuccessful.

Fair enough. There wasn’t any need to elaborate further on the decision to spend more time with family.

Until last week, that is.

In an interview with the Sun, Bergeson said that was only “99 percent” of the reason, and he lamented the difficulty of dealing with parents.

His comments were understandable to anyone involved with high school sports.

Too many parents are overbearing. I witnessed one a few weeks ago after South’s football team played Foss.

Running back Sean Allison scored a 68-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left to lead the Wolves to a 29-26 win.

It was an emotional and important win for a team that faced a must-win scenario to maintain its playoff hopes.

But one parent began yelling at coach D.J. Sigurdson as he approached the locker room, questioning why her son didn’t play.

Sigurdson calmly explained that anyone eligible played.

That didn’t satisfy the parent, who questioned his character and integrity before cursing him out as he walked away.

Just about every coach can provide an example of an obnoxious parent, and Bergeson outlined his.

There isn’t an issue with that, and hopefully some unruly parents noticed his remarks and realized they need to back off a bit.

Perhaps they also can be sympathetic toward his remarks about cutting players. It’s not always a personal indictment on your son’s or daughter’s skills if they don’t make the team.

At one of the largest high schools in the state, there simply isn’t room for everyone.

That was the end of the good feelings, though.

Bergeson’s supporters like to remind us not to mistake his “intensity with arrogance.”

But what does criticizing your superiors four months after your resignation sound like? Bitter and arrogant.

Bergeson told the Sun that athletic director Ed Santos needs to be “more protective of his flock.”

“Our AD is great,” he said. “I love him. I would take a bullet for him and he knows it. But you’ve got to have some support.”

Those words were kind in comparison to what Bergeson had to say about principal Jerry Holsten.

He said the third-year South principal “definitely inspired me to be less involved at South Kitsap High School.”

In the article, Bergeson complained about Holsten’s decision a couple of years ago to expel one of his players, who apparently brought a small quantity of a controlled substance to a match.

“To not let him graduate with his class - I know there are some kids that graduated with their class that have done a lot worse — and their files are ... thick,” Bergeson said.

One wonders how Bergeson would have reacted if one of his players criticized his decision-making in the paper?

After all, here’s a coach who often preached about the tenets his athletes had to abide by to become captains ‚Äî citizenship, leadership, scholastic aptitude, work ethic.

Bergeson failed himself on the first two counts.

In a presidential election year, where both candidates talked about the need for support, Bergeson didn’t provide that for Santos.

He said retired athletic director Steve Reischman shielded him from a lot of the outside negativity.

Bergeson should have worked with the man that he claims he would take a bullet for. Maybe if he had done that, he wouldn’t be throwing daggers at him now.

The issues with Holsten also should have been dealt with behind closed doors. If he felt strongly about the student’s case, and the principal was unreasonable, there were other options, such as the superintendent’s office.

Instead, he chose to let the issue fester and then shared it with a reporter long after the fact.

Kind of seems like something one of those obnoxious parents would do.

In the process, Bergeson has damaged his own credibility in addition to the administrators at the school.

He’s noncommittal about coaching again, but does another school want to deal with a coach who criticizes his superiors in the newspaper?

If so, count me as surprised.

At least he won’t have to answer to parents anymore. One coach recently commented that many parents feel they’re better than teachers. It’s hard to imagine parents would be inclined to support administrators when teachers undermine their authority.

Quite a legacy to leave behind.

Chris Chancellor can be reached at (360) 876-4414, or by e-mail at sports@portorchardindependent.com.

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