From cop to Corvallis

(Left) Head softball coach Laura Berg cheers from the dugout during the April 15th game against UCLA. Berg had success in her own playing career, winning the 1998 NCAA Championship title for Fresno State. Along with collegiate success, Berg owns three Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004) and one silver (2008).

Amy Schwartz, Multimedia Contributor

From the Los Angeles Police Department to the dugout in Corvallis, head softball Coach Laura Berg has had a career of impact. 

Prior to her return to the game, she spent a year with the LAPD from 2010-11. Both of her brothers are police officers and had spoken about the camaraderie they had with their fellow officers. Berg was intrigued by the concept and calls it a ‘learning experience.’ 

“I talk to the players a lot about teamwork,” Berg said. “Even when you’re done playing softball, you’re still going to be a part of a team whether it’s your family, your husband or significant other. Wherever you’re going to go you’re going to be a part of a team. You’ve got to work together in problem solving issues and accomplishing goals.” 

After a nearly twenty-year long playing career, Berg hung up her softball cleats and made the transition to coaching. The decision was due to the coaches that Berg had during her career. 

“The people who coached me had such an impact on my life,” Berg said. “I wanted to have that impact on other young women’s lives.” 

Berg has learned among the other great coaches at Oregon State University. Berg’s office is in Gill Coliseum, where she shares a hallway with other OSU head coaches such as Pat Casey, Tanya Chaplin and Steve Simmons. 

“Being around all these coaches really helps me learn a lot of things and kind of up my game,” Berg said. “Look at what women’s basketball is doing. I’ve got to go out and pick Scott’s (Rueck) brain and ask him, ‘What are you guys doing? How’d you do it?.’”

Through the Beavers season, many players have credited coach Berg with their success. They have focused on her monthly sit-downs and her coaching style.

“It means a lot,” Berg said. “They’re the reason why I do this job. They’re the ones out there putting the hard work in. They’re the ones with the bat in their hands. All I can really do is lead them. They’re the ones who have to be bought in.”

Oregon State junior outfielder Lovie Lopez has long admired her head coach. Prior to her visit to OSU, Berg had never seen Lopez play. During the visit, Lopez was on campus for just six hours before committing. Lopez credits that to coach Berg. 

“To be able to play for her is my dream come true,” Lopez said. “I had multiple offers and I chose this school just to play for her.”

Berg and Lopez shared a special connection of playing for the same travel ball coach. They are both from Santa Fe Springs, but Lopez wanted to learn from Berg. 

“When I shook her hand, I told her, ‘I want to be just like you,’” Lopez said.

Lopez has appreciated being coached by one of the best softball players in the world. 

“She’s the best slapper outfielder in the world, literally,” Lopez said. “She has the medals to show for it. She means everything to me. Off the field, aside from her being my coach, she’s a great person to talk to. I can go to her for anything. If I need help with anything she’ll be there for me.”

Berg has pushed Lopez as a player to play to her best potential. 

“I think it’s more keeping the constant fight in me,” Lopez said. “Never letting up. She knows my potential, so she’s always there trying to pull it out of me. I really admire that about her.” 

Redshirt senior infielder Sammi Noland transferred to Oregon State from Nebraska. The transition was made easier due to coach Berg’s support. 

“She’s always been super supportive and always made me feel really welcome,” Noland said. “She’s given me some great opportunities and I will forever be thankful for her.”

Berg has learned a lot from her players, including patience.

“Something that may have come easy to me may not come easy to them,” Berg said. “No matter how old they are they’re still eighteen to twenty year olds and away from their families, some of them for the first time and I really have had to be better at nurturing them.”