By Jim Rueda
The members of the Minnesota State University volleyball team were given a rare treat Wednesday as they got to talk to and rub shoulders with U.S. Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Berg at MSU’s Taylor Center.
Berg was in town at the request of MSU head coach Dennis Amundson who worked with the future Olympian while she attended the University of Minnesota and is also good friends with her father, Dennis Berg.
“Lindsey is just one of those players who gets it done,” Amundson said before his team’s practice. “All her life, people have been telling her she’s too small or too this or too that .... well guess what, she isn’t.”
Berg’s credentials are impressive. She recently helped the U.S. Olympic team to a second-place finish at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She was also a member of the U.S. team that finished fifth in the 2004 Olympics. The native Hawaiian and former three-time All-American for the Gophers has played professionally in Italy for the past few years.
“She spent more than an hour and a half talking to our players (Wednesday),” Amundson said. “I just wanted our team to see what players are like who compete at the highest level. I’m sure they asked her a lot of questions I would have never thought to ask her.”
Berg, who is taking a year off from volleyball while she rehabs her surgically repaired knee, says she’s glad to come out and talk to players and teams and share her Olympic experience. She says volleyball has given her a chance to travel all over the world, plus earn a livelihood, so she takes nothing for granted.
The most asked questions she gets are: Did you meet Michael Phelps? What was it like to stand on the podium? Did you get to see much of Beijing? Her short answers are yes, great and no.
“I got to meet Michael and he’s a nice guy but I’ve never been one of those star-struck people,” she said. “I just appreciated the fact that he worked hard and was able to accomplish some amazing things. All the Olympians worked hard to excel; it was great to be in that environment.”
Berg, a setter and excellent server, is best remembered for her performance against the Italians when she took over the deciding set.
“A lot of people were amazed when she did that, but I wasn’t,” Amundson said. “I’ve seen her do that many times before. That’s how she got to be an Olympian.”
As for the future, Berg is not sure what lies ahead. Once she is recovered from her knee injury she plans to try to play professionally in Italy again. If the knee holds up, she may go out for the national team again and try to play at the 2012 Olympics in London. If she plays in London she’ll be 32 years old.
“A lot can happen between now and then,” she said. “I might not even make the team.
“I know that when my playing days are over, I’d like to get into fashion. I’d like to open up a store somewhere in the U.S. Of course, the way the economy is right now, it might be best to put that on hold for a few years.”
Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at jrueda@ mankatofreepress.com