Saturday Sports Q+A: Already a coach and principal, Lake City's Berge motivated to do more
Greg Berge has been the principal and head boys basketball coach at Lake City for the past nine years. He has built a successful basketball program and he is now doing motivational writing and speaking as well.
Greg Berge is in his second stint as the boys basketball coach at Lake City. For the past nine years he has been the head coach of the Tigers and the principal at the high school. Berge has coached at Lake City for 16 seasons overall and has guided the Tigers to a pair of Class AA state berths in the past six years, including a third-place finish in 2019. The 50-year-old has also started doing some motivational speaking and writing. He recently had a chat with Guy N. Limbeck of the Post Bulletin.
Post Bulletin: Lately you've been sending out inspirational messages on Twitter. What is the mindset behind that?
Greg Berge: About a year ago I kind of jumped on board and on the side became a licensed sports leadership facilitator with Jeff Janssen (of Janssen Sports Leadership Center). That’s always been a big passion of mine. Basically what I do on the side is put on sports leadership summits across the state of Minnesota. I’m the only licensed person in the state of Minnesota who can do his summits.
PB: How often and where do you put on the seminars?
Berge: I probably did six of them last fall and I’ve already got seven lined up for next fall. I’ve got a bunch of area schools that I am doing them at. At Pine Island, Stewartville, Zumbrota and some schools in the Cities and up north. I feel like I have a lot to share and a lot of experiences so I decided to commit to writing for a year and just kind of see what happens. It’s been a pretty neat experience. When you write every day, when you think about that stuff every day, it kind of causes you to become a better writer and to think more.
PB: What is your goal with motivational writing and messages?
Berge: I want to make an impact on as many people as I can. Not just my own team and school here in Lake City, but I want to have an opportunity to impact other teams, schools, communities and kids. I think it’s such a needed thing in our society right now, to develop leaders with kids and athletes.
PB: Someone recently released all the boys basketball records in the state for the past 10 years and Lake City was No. 7 on the winning percentage list in the entire state. How does that make you feel?
Berge: Obviously it’s a credit to our kids and our program. The hardest thing to do when you’re a smaller school is to have success consistently. We all have those (good) seasons that come and go. Obviously it’s something you’re really proud of when you’ve had success over a long period of time. Caledonia was No. 1 on that list and they’ve had great success as well. It makes me feel good about the kids and your program and your coaches and the time that you’ve put in. We’ve been fortunate, we’ve had some really good players over that time.
PB: Has there been a key to the continued success for the past decade?
Berge: I would say it’s the culture of our program and the leadership of our kids. That’s been pretty purposeful. Four of those years we started ninth-graders on some really good teams. I don’t think you can start freshmen on really good competitive teams unless you have a really good culture and you have really strong leadership on your team.
PB: You are the high school principal as well as the basketball coach. Is that a tough balance to maintain?
Berge: I’ve been at both for a long time and I’m incredibly organized. You ask anyone who knows me and they will probably say I’m very organized and I use my time wisely. I’ve got good people around me who help support me through that.
PB: What is the allure of coaching for you?
Berge: It’s something I love to do. It allows me to stay connected with kids. I think it’s incredibly positive for our school and I think it’s positive for me and my role. It allows me to connect with kids on a level that most other principals don’t have.
PB: Do you do anything special to relax?
Berge: Honestly coaching is relaxing for me. I love the competition, I love the guys. I have a very supportive family, my wife is a teacher. She’s very supportive and a busy person as well. I like to stay busy … but we boat and I golf. We boat in the summer in Lake City and I do plenty of stuff to stay relaxed.
PB: Long-term coaching is becoming a little more rare nowadays. Do you have a timetable of how long you want to continue to coach?
Berge: I think when I first took over back (when I became) a principal, I made a commitment for at least seven years to myself. … As long as I enjoy it and it fits with what I want to do with my life, I hope to continue to do it. I don’t really have a set date or time. I just know it’s a lot of fun, I really enjoy it and we’ve got great kids in Lake City and have built something that’s been pretty special. And we have some good teams coming up again so I’m looking forward to that.