By Jordan Murray
While Viterbo senior outfielder Joey Bergles has a passion for baseball, he’s also been able to follow another passion with Viterbo athletics: working as a strength and conditioning coach.
Bergles, a sports science and leadership major from Geneseo, Il., has been working with the V-Hawk women’s soccer team since late November to improve their strength, conditioning, and athletic ability.
The goal of Bergles’ program is simply to make the women’s soccer players better at their sport.
“No strength and conditioning program is successful if it doesn’t make the athletes better at their sport,” Bergles said. “My approach is to make them the best possible athletes they can be. This means improving their speed, agility, strength, power, explosiveness, and mobility. If they improve in these physical skills, they should become better soccer players.”
The team’s improvement in these areas is something that Bergles tracks regularly to make sure progress is being made. After five weeks 15 of the 19 girls had improved their standing broad jump, while 18 of the 19 athletes improved their pro agility times. The pro agility drill measures quickness and lateral movement.
When asked about these results, Bergles commente, “It has been very rewarding seeing the improvements that the girls have made. I’m seeing first-hand the improvements they’ve made in regards to their speed, strength, power, agility, and explosiveness.”
Junior midfielder Nikki Reinart feels that the program is paying dividends for the team.
“Joey has done an amazing job at introducing new and different workouts to the team,” Reinart said. “His training program targeted each individual’s specific weaknesses and strengths and created a comfortable environment to succeed.”
Injury prevention is also an emphasis for Bergles: “Studies have shown that female athletes are 4-7 times more likely to tear their ACL’s than are male athletes. One thing I’m always looking for is their knees caving in when they are squatting, landing, and cutting. The knees caving in is something you never want an athlete to do and can lead to ACL problems.”
With a personal history of knee injuries, Reinart is mindful of the injury prevention benefits of the regimen.
“Personally, after the setback of an ACL and meniscus tear last season, Joey’s training has provided me with the strength and knowledge to prevent any further injuries,” Reinart said. “He helped me create a new sense of comfort on the field.”
Head coach Scott Pirnstill believes that the program may already be paying off for his team.
“The exact benefits on the field are difficult to decipher, but there are a couple of facts that are undisputed,” he said. “We traveled to Hawaii this spring break to play the islands’ top three teams, which represent legitimate Division I and II competition. At that level, the games are much more physical because the players are faster and the collisions are much more violent. We did not get pushed around.”
This type of training is something Bergles would like to make a career out of.
“I definitely see myself working in the strength and conditioning industry for the rest of my life,” Bergles said. “I love every aspect of trying to improve athletic performance through time spent in the weight room, nutrition, and recovery methods.”
Scheduling workouts and practices for a college athletic squad can be a nightmare with limited gym space and class schedules to consider. Bergles, a fellow student-athlete, has found ways to fit the team’s workouts around his class and baseball schedule.
“We usually train at nights after I’m done with baseball for the day,” Bergles said. “I’ve made extra times available during the day that work around my class schedule to give them the opportunity to train in smaller groups, which I’ve noticed helps them get more out of their sessions.”
Bergles is eager to share his passion for training, even starting his own YouTube account to promote fitness. Among the videos he’s uploaded are examples of some of the workouts he’s using with the soccer team.
In the end, the goal for Bergles is to see the soccer team have a successful season in the fall.
“All of the girls have been very committed and some have even scheduled extra training sessions. Although their season doesn’t start for another five months, they are already competing against every team they will play this fall. I’m confident that no team on their schedule is doing the things we are.”