Brian Bergstrom: From staff to head coach, a new legacy begins

Brian Bergstrom: From staff to head coach, a new legacy begins

Kailey Doeseckle, Sports Editor

After the legendary Tom Sawyer retired after 25 long years at the conclusion of the 2021 Warrior football season, a new legacy would have to begin on the field. 

In January, Brian Bergstrom would become the next iconic figure to step into the spotlight leading Winona State football. 

Bergstrom, originally from Burnsville, Minn., played all kinds of sports growing up but found that a particular passion lied within football and college brought with it excellent opportunities to continue his career in the sport. 

To jumpstart his success, Bergstrom earned both All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and honorable mention All-America selection as a linebacker.  

Bergstrom was also named team Most Valuable Player all while holding the title of team captain and was a CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree as well as the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. 

With this vast set of accomplishments, it only seemed proper for Bergstrom to persist in football. 

“Playing college football just gave me so much more of a passion for the game,” Bergstrom said. “It was the sport I was the most serious about playing, so it became natural to coach it.” 

Bergstrom’s very first jobs out of college were as a strength and conditioning coach, a substitute teacher and a football coach.  

Though, Bergstrom quickly found that his favorite part of the day was the football part, so he worked his way further into the depths of the game and became a graduate assistant at college. 

Bergstrom has since racked up 17 years of collegiate coaching experience and possesses a strong network of recruiting connections cultivated over stops at Augustana University and Gustavus Adolphus College, his alma mater.  

While at Augustana, Bergstrom was a part of a Viking staff that won a part of the 2015 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division Title. That same year, Augustana also earned a position in the NCAA Division II playoffs.  

Bergstrom came to the Warriors from his most recent position as the defensive coordinator for South Dakota State University, where he had been a part of five consecutive Jackrabbit playoff teams, earning three trips to the FCS national semifinals, including a runner-up finish.  

Overall, Bergstrom left his stamp on strong defensive teams, as is a trademark of Bergstrom at all levels.  

While his original intent to coach came from his passion and the competitiveness of the game, Bergstrom soon realized that the true power of the sport lies in its ability to impact people’s lives and football certainly proves to be an excellent platform to help people.  

Bergstrom gladly took up the job offer from Winona State for the opportunity to be the head coach after several years as a defensive coordinator, and with the Warriors’ spectacular football tradition with Coach Sawyer, it was a very welcoming culture for him and his family to merge into.  

“Football’s football,” Bergstrom said. “Everywhere you go to coach there is an opportunity to try and win games on the field but impact their life off the field.” (Joseph Eichele)

“The transition from a legendary coach such as Tom Sawyer into coach Bergstrom and his staff has been one of my biggest accomplishments as a senior,” Corrie King, a defensive lineman, said. “It’s the hardest change for us.”  

As King mentioned, the transition from one coach to another can be incredibly difficult to adjust to, but the team has been entirely hospitable and have come to adapt to the new regime quite well.  

Though the players are not the only ones adjusting to the change.  

Bergstrom comes from several different coaching positions, but most recently, he comes from a Division I school where the players are perhaps, as he mentioned, a little bigger and a little better, but that is simply the nature of football.  

“Football’s football,” Bergstrom said. “Everywhere you go to coach there is an opportunity to try and win games on the field but impact their life off the field.”  

While it was difficult to leave South Dakota State, the size of Winona State has been a rather perfect fit. The Winona community has also been extremely kind to the Bergstrom family and the openness with which they were accepted certainly made it easy to stay. 

With the recent accomplishments that have come with making the playoffs, Bergstrom has certainly proven himself as an excellent coach and an even better mentor. The Warriors are fortunate enough to have a leader that will consistently strive for their success on and off the field. 

With this promising season to hopefully foreshadow his coaching career at Winona State, Bergstrom is taking the field by storm and surging forth to create a lasting legacy that Winona State will remember.