OSU Softball Coach in running to coach Olympic team

Oregon State Softball Head Coach Laura Berg has an Olympic medal from four separate Olympic games, along with multiple other accolades.  

Jada Krening, News Reporter

Oregon State University softball head coach and Olympian Laura Berg has recently been called up for a chance to coach the 2020 Olympic softball team. 

Berg, who played softball for Fresno State, first joined the U.S. Olympic team as a player in 1994, and remained with the team until she retired in 2008. During her time as an Olympian, she won three gold medals and one silver. Then, she became an assistant coach at Oregon State University for one year before taking the head coaching job. According to Berg, the process of selecting the Olympic coaching staff will take place in October while players are being selected for the 2020 team. As the players try out, the coaches do as well. 

Softball was removed from the Olympic games after 2008, making the 2020 games in Tokyo the first in several years to include the sport. In 2008, the last year Berg played in the Olympics, Japan beat the U.S. team and won the gold medal.  

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“I want to be able to bring my experiences from the last Olympics that I’ve played in to the team that will be there in 2020,” Berg said. “Plus, it’s a big deal because it’s in Japan, and we’re trying to win our Olympic gold medal back from them.”

Berg said she has always wanted to be a coach, particularly because she had several coaches in her playing career who made a difference in her own life, including Gary Haning, who “put the thought” of being an Olympian in her head.

“I want to have that influence on others,” Berg said. “There is no better job than teaching young adults. Being able to work with them, to see that light bulb go off when they work so hard at something, and then they’re successful in the game — that’s why.”

Chance Burden, a second-year outfielder on the OSU softball team, described playing under the leadership of Berg as a great experience.

“Day in and day out, she challenges us to be both better athletes and people,” Burden said via email. “Coach Berg exemplifies what passion for the game looks like by the intensity and competitiveness that she brings to the field.”

Kimya Massey, senior associate athletic director for Student-Athlete Development and softball sports administrator, also described Berg as an intense and passionate coach who wants the best from her players. 

“I think her IQ for the sport is very, very high,” Massey said. “She understands the little intricacies of what you need to do to be successful.”

Berg attributes much of her coaching philosophies and attitudes to the coaches she has had in past as a player, and hopes to bring these philosophies to the 2020 team if she is selected as a member of the staff.

“I’ve been really lucky, having played under Mike Candrea at the University of Arizona. I like his coaching style, I like his coaching philosophy. He did anything and everything for us to be up on that gold medal podium,” Berg said. “I’ve also learned a lot from Ken Ericksen, who was also a part of the 2004 Olympic Staff. So I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve brought a lot of tidbits from there to here. It’s been a really cool process.”