Tim Bergstraser is the top assistant coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead (D2). Tim was a standout player at St Cloud State University before knee injuries forced his career to end prematurely.
Since becoming a coach, Tim has been named to Under Armour's 30 Under 30 list.
During my freshman year at St. Cloud State University I was fortunate to be a part of one of the best teams in school history and play in the Final Four. It was a blessing beyond measures for a hometown kid, who was supposed to red shirt on a $1,000 scholarship.
Next season, we had high expectations for the squad. And then I tore my ACL & meniscus going up for a dunk in a scrimmage four days before our first official game, causing me to miss the entire season.
During my redshirt sophomore season I was rewarded All Conference in one of the best conferences in the nation. During the first round of the national tournament I was having a career game out in Colorado. I went to deny a pass on the wing & the opponent cut backdoor backdoor.
One severe twist dropped me with the most pain I’ve felt in my life. The most special thing about this story is that my brothers ended up winning that game while I was unable to play the last 6 minutes. I was diagnosed with a torn ACL, microfracture, cartilage tear on my knee cap & tore both meniscus all in one twist.
The next season I returned to play in January, but was no longer able to play how I wanted with the physicality and movement of the game. It took the enjoyment out of it. I ended up finishing the season to find out I tore my ACL and meniscus again in the same knee.
The meat head in me at the time had full intentions of returning to play. Thankfully, I was coached by a legend named Kevin Schlagel, who painted a bigger picture for me.
There is life beyond basketball. You will want to walk & still be active someday & play with your future children.
I didn’t want to believe it then, but actively playing was done.
It ripped my heart out & I cried like a little kid all the way back from the orthopedic doctor.
After this Coach Schlagel granted me an opportunity to coach on his staff as a student assistant.
I had no other option because I never prepared myself for anything else besides playing basketball.
Didn’t know what else I was good at because I never thought about life, period. Just living in the moment.
We all believe that we work harder than others. Some of us truly do while others are more driven for a status because "you in the lab" or "someone is sleeping on you."
What I have witnessed and experienced is that you think that you are invincible at a young age. Control the controllables, while understanding that there are some things in life that you cannot control.
A simple message I’ll always live by, through experience, is to not take one single day for granted playing this beautiful game of basketball. You’ll appreciate it that much more once you have absolutely no control and are unable to play. One wrong twist and your career could be over. Those that take it for granted don’t understand until something catastrophic happens to them.
I would never wish it upon my worst enemy, but you’ll miss all the little things about being a student athlete. The mental preparation before games, warm ups on the floor, introductions before tip-off, tough "And 1" finishes, big defensive stops as a unit, outworking your opponent to hit the ground first for a loose ball, weight lifting, competing in practices, traveling with your teammates to places you’ve never been before…. You will miss it more than you know once it is done. So why not exhaust every piece of energy in your body to respect the game each and every day. You could create a list for coaching activities as well.
I’m forever grateful for the game of basketball and the transition that led me into coaching. I've been able to establish some unbelievable, lifelong friendships with some outstanding players and learn from a group of remarkable coaches.
The injuries were a blessing in disguise, or who knows what would have happened for me in life. I had zero path in mind because I was fixated on just basketball and the social life attached with it.
To the ones who take plays off – Appreciate being on the floor. You never know when that last play could be.
To the ones more concerned about your stat line – This game is bigger than you… WE > ME.
To the entitled ones who got passed up by someone who didn’t take the game for granted and outworked you – Shame on you, you allowed that to happen.
Working hard won’t guarantee you a thing. It will give you a chance to compete vs those who want exactly what you want. Work hard, be a great person and seek constant, never-ending learning.
It's a simple formula. Don’t be the one with regret looking back on a messed up career due to your lack of respect for self, others and the game.