Bergstrom Finally Finds His Niche

Sept. 27, 2006

It took a few years and a few positions, but Eagle senior Brett Bergstrom has found his niche.

 

A senior who had never attempted an EWU field goal prior to this season, Bergstrom kicked four field goals in Eastern's 19-10 victory at Montana State on Sept. 23. He kicked field goals of 21, 53, 39 and 30 yards versus the Bobcats, with his 53-yarder ranking as the fourth-longest in school history. Three of the kicks came in the first half to give Eastern a 9-0 lead at halftime.

 

So far this season, Bergstrom has made all six of his field goal attempts and all three of the extra points he's kicked.

 

"He's a veteran player and has a strong leg," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "We really feel like we have a player that can help us win games. And he did against Montana State."

 

Not bad for a player who came to Eastern three years ago and went through three positions before finding his calling. He redshirted as a safety in 2004, moved to receiver and even tried defensive end before earning the kicking job. Injuries slowed him in junior college, otherwise, he might have played safety at one of the larger schools that recruited him while he was in junior college.

 

"It was very frustrating because I thought I had a chance at playing as a safety," Bergstrom said. "But things happen, so I changed positions."

 

Bergstrom was a kicker at Mount Si High School in North Bend, Wash., then went to Shasta Junior College in California for two seasons. He kicked there too, but initially didn't ask his Eastern coaches to give him an opportunity to kick until about a year ago.

 

"I never really showed them that I could kick," he said. "But last year I asked them if I could try it, and now I have the chance."

 

The strong-legged Bergstrom specialized in kickoffs in 2005 before edging out fellow senior Sheldon Weddle for this year's placekicking chores. He averaged 61.0 yards per kickoff as a junior with 23 touchbacks. So far this season, he is averaging 61.0 yards with six touchbacks.

 

Kicking camps in Texas, California and Boise, Idaho, helped him hone his skills in summer 2006. His improvement has turned the kicking game into a strength for the Eagles.

 

Entering Eastern's game on Sept. 30 versus Sacramento State, Bergstrom ranked 11th in NCAA Division I-AA and second in the Big Sky with an average of 1.5 field goals per game.

 

"It does feel good," he said. "At first I didn't really like it because it wasn't that much fun. But I finally got into it this past summer and worked hard at it. I have a lot more things to work on and I just want to get better from here."

 

Eastern's field goal record is 57 yards set by Eric Stein in a 1986 game at Montana State. That record could be in jeopardy if game situations give Bergstrom the opportunity.

 

"He kicked a 58-yarder in the rain and wind in our practice at Montana State," added Wulff. "He is certainly capable of kicking it from 60."

 

"It's all about confidence," added Bergstrom. "You just can't have any doubt that you're going to make it. If you do, you are going to miss it."

 

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