Bergman making the most out of his final college season
Former South Tahoe High football standout Jason Bergman is feeling pretty good these days.
After being told he was too small to make it in the college ranks, Bergman, a senior free safety at South Dakota’s Huron University, is having the last laugh.
“Being able to play college football for four years has been great,” he said. “A lot of people said I was too small, so it feels good to prove them wrong.”
Since arriving at Huron in 1998, Bergman has seen his Screaming Eagles achieve an abundance of success.
In his freshman year he enjoyed an exciting run that took the Eagles within a win of the national title game and last year the team locked up a conference championship.
This season, the Screaming Eagles are 3-2 and are ranked No. 22 in the lastest NAIA National poll.
“We’re doing pretty good,” Bergman said. “But the pressure is on.”
Pressure comes in the form of the Screaming Eagles’ two early season losses at University of Mary and Hastings.
“If we lose one more, the playoffs will be hard to make,” Bergman said. “Our playoffs started two weeks ago when we lost to Mary.”
Coming off the lopsided 42-3 loss at Mary, the Screaming Eagles have bounced back the following two weeks with victories over South Dakota Tech and Minot State.
The Tech game saw Bergman snare his first interception of the season and make numerous tackles on a defense that held the opposition’s running game to only 10 yards.
“I’m getting my chance to play all the time now, so I’m trying to step up and make plays,” Bergman said.
Since his senior season opened, Bergman has not only stepped it up on the field, but in the locker room as well.
“I’m not the defensive captain,” he said. “But I have a big leadership role getting guys going before game time and showing the younger guys what’s going on … teaching them the system.”
It’s obvious now, those who once doubted Bergman’s size (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) weren’t aware of his strength and heart. He has silenced his critics by logging significant playing time all four years at Huron, including a full-time position this season.
“My size was never an obstacle for me because I was always strong enough to compete with the big boys,” Bergman said. “Maybe my size never allowed me to play in Division I, but it didn’t keep me out of college football.”
As Bergman’s final season and collegiate career winds down he’s taken some time to reflect on his four years in South Dakota, a place he said moves a bit slower and is a lot colder than Tahoe.
“This has been the best time of my life,” he said. “I’m taking away a great education, four years of playing the game I love and four years of meeting people that will be my friends for life. The icing on the cake for me would be a conference title and the cherry on top would be a national championship.”
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Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.